Football Manager Touch 2018 Review
Anyone familiar with the Football Manager franchise is all too aware of the addictiveness that it can wield on innocent football fans across the UK and beyond. For those who’ve been following the evolution of Sports Interactive’s unparalleled football management simulator will have been involved way back when it was called Championship Manager, published by Eidos through the 90s right up until 2005 when they made the switch to Sega and the game had a slight makeover as well as a name change. What hasn’t changed in this time is that the franchise is the definitive football management game the world over — detailed and complex, packed full of every conceivable statistic, Football Manager is gaming crack to a diehard football fan, its sales popularity only limited by the need to play the game on a decent PC, with two failed Xbox 360 console outings condemning it seemingly to the PC crowd. This was of course before our mobile devices reached the point where they were more powerful than the majority of PCs which were used to play the title from 1992—2010 and beyond. This evolution of handheld tech and the associated increase in processing power and memory has seen the title launch successfully in its mobile guise on both iOS and Android devices. Step up to the plate the Nintendo Switch; a handheld console with enough juice to run Zelda or Mario would seem like a perfect fit for your average football fan who doesn’t enjoy an evening in front of a computer.
Football Manager Touch 2018 landed on the Nintendo Switch with literally zero hype as a result of a surprise launch, coming just hours after the publisher announced it was coming to the platform. A scaled-back version, naturally, of the much loved PC title, giving wannabe managers across the country the ability to lead their favourite team on a train, bus, park bench, well anywhere really — taking advantage of the Switch’s reasonable horsepower and its touch screen — this could potentially be a match made in heaven.
Starting up the game and choosing your team is simple enough, options for multiple leagues are present but it is wise to stick to the one to avoid excessive load times which can really bog down the experience. As you progress, the full depth of the simulation reveals itself and whilst not possessing as much depth as its PC-based counterparts this new touch version is no slouch. Every aspect of team and indeed club management is available to the player through a series of basic looking but fairly intuitive touch based menu screens. If you want to move a player up from the reserves, change a training regime, scout for a new player, switch up your youth team, offer a player a new contract, or implement a new style of play for the entire team or a certain player, you name it, you can do it. For a handheld game the depth really is something and sets up the player for hours upon of hours of armchair management fun.
Matches take the form of a mix of a flat data screen containing some live written commentary along with all the live data you’d find from your average sports scientist on the sidelines at any decent club mixed with some basic 3D renderings of players playing the match out in real time, a first for a console, showing you key moments in the game and bringing a little bit of life to an otherwise fairly consistent flat stat-based game.
However, whilst it is fantastic to be able to manage your team in the FA Cup final whilst on your way home from work after a long day Football Manager Touch 2018 is not without its problems, in fact there are quite a few. The aforementioned loading times throughout are a continual annoyance and can last quite a while depending on what activity you are undertaking, for example, starting a match. In isolation they wouldn’t cause too much fuss but as they are fairly consistent throughout the game, after a few hours play you cannot help but feel like a reasonable percentage of that time was wasted waiting on loading screens. This feeling of speed or lack thereof isn’t helped by the sluggishness of the user interface (UI) — not only are the touch controls a little hit and miss, with button presses not always registering first time but fairly often solid finger presses don’t register at all resulting in you having to repeat the action, sometimes several times. Again in isolation, an annoyance more than a deal breaker, but along with the general speed of the simulator in general it all starts to add up.
The other two issues were less issues and more user experience comments. Firstly whilst we absolutely appreciate that this title is called Football Manager Touch 2018 and is available on a handheld console with a touch screen however it’s also a console that can be docked and can be played on a big TV with a pad. In this regard Football Manager Touch 2018 is really poor to play — the mapping to the pad isn’t particularly intuitive and it becomes really tricky to navigate through the game’s statistic-heavy screens. As it stands at the moment if you intend on buying this one to play when chilling out in the lounge on your swanky 55” TV we cannot recommend it for that experience, it’s too fiddly and unresponsive. Secondly aside from briefly when you boot the game and again while a match is taking place the game has no sound — not very little sound other than mentioned, none, nothing, zero. Again we note that it’s a Football Manager title and as a rule they are a series of colourful data screens with little to no audio outside of a match on other formats but this is the Nintendo Switch — moving from playing something like Golf Story or anything really and booting up Football Manager Touch 2018, a lot of users will find themselves checking if the game is actually working a number of times during a play session. Some simple UI audio along with some background music would go a long way to livening up this one.
Football Manager Touch 2018 was, on paper at least, the perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch. A game like no other on the console, one which has been hugely popular with the generation which these days has the most disposable income and due to life might have had to move away from being slumped over a PC every night; sadly however it’s a shadow of its much bigger brother. Slow with a clunky, sound-free UI, dubious touch controls and poor pad mappings make this one more of a miss than a hit.