Review – Football Manager 2020

Some people prefer FIFA. Some people prefer Pro Evolution Soccer. I’ve always been the outlier. I enjoy playing my good ol’ footie simulators like anyone else, but I’ve always preferred the tactical side of the sport. The management and economical side of the sport. Maybe it’s the boring business school alumnus in me taking over my personality, but I always look forward to the yearly releases of the Football Manager series, not only because it always comes with updated team rosters and stats for more than 350,000 (!) real-life players, but because they always feature one or two new quality of life improvements to justify their existence. Football Manager 2020 is no different.

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Compared to my NBA 2K20 avatar, this is almost lifelike.

Just like any other version of Football Manager, I took my time before actually starting a save in this game. I actually talked for days with other friends of mine who are as pathologically addicted to the series as I am, discussing which team to pick up, which national team to train, which ludicrous objectives to attempt, and which players their stats should be updated on the game editor. I also waited for the phenomenal FM community to release their handmade license fix patches, picture and logo megapacks and extra leagues, as I’m one of those nutters who likes to set up a brand new save with around 150 leagues from 110 different countries right from the getgo. You can find those mods here. Thankfully enough, my computer did withstand the ridiculous amount of RAM the game demands with such a ludicrous “script”, and it even runs better than in previous versions.

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An improved club vision section with short-term and long-term goals.

I took my time to start off my save, but once I did, I was pleasantly surprised with the subtle, but excellent quality of life improvements I could notice right from the getgo. The graphical engine has been vastly improved, with my virtual manager actually looking like a human being for once. Sports Interactive’s facial recognition system is still not very good, but it’s leaps and bounds ahead of the abysmal tool featured in NBA 2K20. The players and stadiums look better than ever, as they now look they came straight out of a PS2 game instead of a 3DO game. Baby steps, I guess.

Some small additions, such as talking to the club’s chairman and the backroom staff even before you can access the inbox, the addition of a code of conduct, the possibility of copying and pasting your training schedule for the whole year at once, hirable loan managers, and an improved club vision subsection, were also very welcome. It makes things a bit more realistic, a little less bureaucratic, and more fluid once you set things up. Football Manager 2020 takes a little bit longer to get going than in other versions, but once you shift gears, it starts running like a cheetah. I can actually see myself playing a save up until the 2030 World Cup this time around. Yeah, I’m one of those.

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As always, I try to include as many nations and leagues as possible. My PC hates me.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t flaws in this game. I actually didn’t enjoy the brand new UI, as it makes player faces and club logos too small onscreen. While the 3D graphics look better than ever, the same can’t be said about this UI that shoves a ton of info onto your face, making Football Manager 2020 look even more like the “spreadsheet simulator” non-fans say it is. Maybe it’s something I’ll end up getting used to in the future, as I’m sure I’ll play this game for hundreds of hours, but I still think FM15 had the best UI of them all. The sound design, or lack thereof, is still an “issue” as always. All that Football Manager 2020 features in this department is a handful of crowd noises and whistle samples. Then again, FM is the kind of game you play while you’re listening to a podcast or your Spotify library.

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While Football Manager 2019 looked like FIFA 97, Football Manager 2020 looks like FIFA 2002. A significant improvement!

Football Manager 2020 is yet another phenomenal title developed by Sports Interactive, with just enough graphical and quality of life improvements to justify its price and yearly release. It’s a hard sell for those who don’t like the more tactical side of football, but it’s an addictive experience for those who do. I’m more than ready to spend literal thousands of hours in this iteration, trying to achieve something as ludicrous as taking Solihull Moors from the Vanarama National League to the UEFA Champions League or qualifying Suriname to the World Cup.

 

Graphics: 6.0

Although I’m not a big fan of the new UI, the in-game visuals and character models have been vastly improved.

Gameplay: 10

Just like its predecessors, the gameplay is based on clicking buttons and opening menus. It’s as simple as simplicity can be, and there are some new quality of life improvements in order to make things run more fluidly.

Sound: 2.5

The ridiculously limited soundtrack is gone, so Football Manager 2020‘s sound department consists entirely on stadium chants and whistles once again.

Fun Factor: 10

A series of quality of life improvements, as well as a slightly improved overall performance, make Football Manager 2020 stand out among its peers. It’s more than just a roster update.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Football Manager 2020 is available now on PC and Stadia.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Football Manager 2020 was provided by the publisher.

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