Football Manager 2019 ushers in a new era for Sports Interactive and the franchise’s fanbase. This year’s edition of the soccer management sim has undergone a radical overhaul, and it is attempting to offer the most innovative and modern entry to date. And that’s a high bar, given how successful past titles have been. Football Manager 19 has some big cleats to fill and due to some smart UI changes and mode improvements, yet it fits into them snugly.
Football Manager 2019 Review – Tactics and Training Triumphs
This isn’t some rehashed, stale version that may have drawn criticism in previous installments. A revamped UI with a purple aesthetic, and the ability to click and drag parts of the left-hand menu—depending on what sections of the game you deem more important than others—has been implemented to good effect. The game feels polished and more modern, and that’s before you take a deep dive into the specific areas that have been completely overhauled.
Football Manager tactics and training have been rebuilt from the ground up. Gone are the days of trying to put your own custom tactic to work and the lazy feel of training sessions, which some users didn’t even give a second look. In their place are vastly improved components that deliver a more realistic experience. You can now select predetermined tactical styles, formations, and player roles on the tactics screen, and these lead into how your team performs on match days, how to go about taking on opposing clubs, and whether you’ll achieve victory or taste defeat.g
You can also follow your AI assistant manager’s lead on thorough training schedules, which coaches to assign, and what players are deserving of a starting berth based on their training rating. You’re still completely free to customize both of these areas to tailor them to your playstyle and take 100 percent control over them, but the advances to both sections have allowed for a genuine experience of real-life soccer management.
Football Manager 2019 Review – Welcome Changes Across the Board
It isn’t just a fresh lick of paint and overhauled gameplay mechanics that FM 19 has going for it. The scouting department offers a better analysis of transfer targets in card or list form, the match engine features more than 500 new animations, and the welcome addition of a fully licensed Bundesliga means that managerial spells in Germany don’t feel futile due to the series’ previously made up club names and badges.
A greater emphasis has been placed on the mentoring aspect too. Rather than instructing one established player to work alongside one youth player, groups of individuals can now be assigned to work together and learn from one another. Football Manager‘s “regen” player function allows new fictional soccer players that emerge through the youth ranks each season to extend the lifespan of save files. It may not seem important but it’s another big switch that pays dividends.
Parts of FM 19 that haven’t been modified to a great extent, such as the medical center, haven’t needed to be adapted much either. If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it, and Sports Interactive has done well to rein itself in and not switch things up just for the sake of it.
Football Manager 2019 Review – Some Improvements Required
Not everything about FM 19 is perfect, and there are still gripes that could be ironed out. Despite match engine changes, games have a similar feel to the past few installments of the series. Goalkeeping animations still leave a lot to be desired, and parts of the UI in this area may feel clunky, especially if you’re a newcomer to Football Manager.
Those who may buy FM 19 for its realistic matches are looking at the wrong series, and would be best served buying a different soccer title. If Football Manager wants to be a truly authentic soccer game, however, revamping areas of the match engine should be the next big issue to resolve.
The revamped sections, whilst much needed, can seem daunting too. The addition of a “managerial induction” mode (an in-game advisor who runs through the changes to each area, if turned on at the beginning of a save) offers a good overview of what’s new and what’s been altered. This can even feel overwhelming even for new players. Sports Interactive wants to draw younger fans to the franchise, and for this it should be applauded. Some of the more thorough aspects of the game, however, should be turned off due to the sheer amount of information and gameplay mechanics being thrown at the user.
Player interactions, press conferences, and team talks require more unique responses as well. Interacting with the game’s AI will always be restrictive, based on the level of detail that Sports Interactive can control in this area. It’s an area that is sorely lacking in invention.
Football Manager 2019 Review – A Worthy Champion
Football Manager 2019 is a defining moment in the franchise. The sweeping changes that have been incorporated make it feel like the freshest, most in-depth edition in its history. The modernization of tactics and training, in particular, are a breath of fresh air for a series that was beginning to feel a bit stale. Adding other new elements to gameplay to aid players of all skill levels is welcome too, as are the other much-needed tweaks in other areas.
But as a game, it isn’t perfect. There’s still work that can be done to ensure that the Football Manager match engine can be as authentic as possible, and improvements to coding in this area may help. Football Manager‘s spreadsheet-esque gameplay isn’t a gaming marvel, but it’s also an example of the kind of criticism it continually has to fend off if it doesn’t update in future versions.
There’s plenty to admire about FM 19 though. The improvements are a hugely positive step in making the Football Manager series the most realistic version of soccer management. There’s been no finer version of a Football Manager game, and it could be a few years before we see an entry as innovative as this one.
Football Manager 2019 was reviewed on PC via a digital code provided by the publisher.