The Biggest Failures of 2009

Written by Joe Martin

December 28, 2009 | 11:12

Tags: #2009 #event #fail #flight-sim #flop #games-for-windows #gfwl #larrabee

Companies: #bit-tech #christmas

Clive - FIFA Manager 10

When Joe handed me this DVD box I was intrigued – managing FIFA (the governing body for football) would be a lot of fun, I thought. Perhaps I could match Sepp Blatter’s brilliant hypocrisy of demanding equal rights for the women’s game while suggesting that perhaps if they played in hotpants and tight tops there might be more demand for the broadcast rights.

Alternatively, I was wondering if I could model myself on Michel Platini and try to prevent the best teams in Europe from competing in the Champions League and unfairly scooping up all that prize money for their skill and tenacity – perhaps I could try to pass a ruling that would ban all four quarter-finalists from next year’s competition. Unless they were French, of course.

But no, FIFA Manager 10 turned out to be just another football manger game and not even a very good one at that. It’s full of bad ideas, like the notion of using a sticker album to record all your honours as a manager – much like those Panini albums we all remember from school. I was looking forward to seeing if I could swap three FA Cup dupes for a Champions League title with Fergie, but didn’t quite get that far.

In fact I didn’t get very far into the game at all. It all started so well too, with the EA Trax music player firing up the theme to Grandstand automatically as soon as the game launched. That made me grin more than the first time I saw Cesc’s kick-off goal against Spurs, and that’s a lot of grinning. Alas, the other tracks on Trax are rubbish and annoyed me immensely, so I took a trip into the options menu to see how to turn it off. Turns out you can’t. Worse still, Trax can’t browse into folders, so you can’t point it at your main music folder and have your own tunes play- you can only play one album at a time. Unfortunately, you can't turn Trax off either - all I could do is slide the volume all the way down, but this still meant that every three minutes Trax would pop up into the main screen announcing another crap song that I couldn’t hear.

The Biggest Failures of 2009 FIFA Manager 10
Click to Enlarge

I ploughed on regardless though, to the ‘customisable avatar’ section. Yep, if there’s one thing I really care about in a football manger game, it’s what I look like. Unfortunately, all the many options and combinations only resulted in either an East-end thug or Dobbie from Harry Potter. I settled on the latter, and dressed myself in a suit rather than tracksuit or Harry Redknapp homage short-sleeved shirt.

In the next stage, I could select a profile picture from me – either Dobbie-in-suit or an image from my hard disk. However, you can’t just browse your hard disk from within the game – that would be too easy. Instead, if you want to use a custom image, you need to exit your game (losing the Dobbie-in-suit avatar I’d spent the last ten minutes creating), find the image, crop it to a bizarre aspect and then save it to an obscure folder in the game directory. That done, I re-started the game, resurrected Dobbie from his force-quit death and could finally…

Set my background story. As well as a page that wanted to know such details as my name, date of birth, first-, second- and third-favourite team and player and other such trivia. The next stage of my profile background had me specify my marital status, how many children I had and what level of interest my progeny had in the beautiful game.

This will apparently have an effect in the game, as troubles in my virtual private life might affect my focus on the pitch. After half an hour ‘playing’ what felt like The Sims 3: Fantasy Job Application I could actually select a team to take control of and start doing something football-related.

The Biggest Failures of 2009 FIFA Manager 10
Click to Enlarge

Once I’d landed the job I needed to negotiate my contract and budget via two of the most boring screens I’ve ever seen. Then I was dropped onto the desk screen, complete with customisable widgets to show a bewildering range of statistics and numbers, as well as a central area of squad players and all their stats. As everyone knows, the first thing to do when starting a new game of Football Manager is assess the squad and see what needs improving. Except that I couldn’t. Nowhere was there a filter to see each position and the players I had; I couldn’t even work out how to show the reserve team to check whether I had a gem of a youngster to promote.

Undeterred, I tried to set up an interesting formation, only to be offered 10-15 standard formations with little customisation options. Choosing the basic 4-4-2, I then tried to at least find out who my best first-team player was for each position. I started at left-back. For some reason the defensive stats are split over two screens – Defensive 1 and Defensive 2 – so it’s almost impossible to determine which is your best player without the use of a large piece of paper and a pencil.

This is where I gave up and switched back to Football Manger 2010 which is far superior. I didn’t even have the patience to see if the ability to control a player during a match was any good – the game is a pig to play, and just not worth the time.

I was given FIFA Manager 10 for free; had I bothered to play it any more than I did, I would have been paid to do so; I hated almost every minute of my time spent with it. These three facts should combine to discourage you in the strongest terms not to buy this game. If you already have, apologies – I would’ve blogged this earlier, but only Joe’s polite reminder that he had this feature to put together gave me the motivation to relive my experiences.
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