FIFA Soccer Manager
Windows - 1997
Description of FIFA Soccer Manager Windows
The soccer management games genre of PC games has a very interesting phenomenon- one game has been ruling it for over two years now. For two whole years, in an industry where a new generation of hardware appears every 8-12 months, one game is still the established king. I am referring, of course, to Championship Manager 2 , that, although having quite a number of substantial failings, had managed to strike the exact spot where difficulty and frustration on one hand, and playability on the other, balance out, making it one of the true legends of PC gaming.
It has been so successful, that it inspired a host of similar games, and made many game companies aware of that sadly forgotten genre. It is the Doom and Myst of soccer management sims. Sierra were the first of the big companies to try their luck, with USM2, which was quite good indeed. Another notable contribution was PM97, the successor to the very successful Player Manager series. Still, none managed to touch the hearts of hundreds of thousands of soccer fans like CM2 did, and still does today.
And it always seemed weird that Electronic Arts, the established ruler of PC sports games companies, certainly in the number produced, never approached the soccer management genre. Their virtual stadium technology, to have appeared first in Fifa Soccer 96, somehow always found its way into discussions, in the form of "hey, if only EA took their technology and put in on a management sim"...
So it was greeted with much enthusiasm when rumors began to appear of an EA sim that included virtual stadium. None of these rumors were backed up by EA themselves, but like rumors do, it grew its own wings and was repeated over and over, in newsgroups, in mailing lists, and in private discussions.
A new contender
The demo released by EA did even more to fuel the rumors, because EA chose not to include the match view in it. Well, Ill cut this rather long intro short now, and tell you that no, Fifa Soccer Manager does not have a match view straight out of the Fifa Soccer series. It isn't even close. And as match views go, PM97 's flashier, prettier, and easier on the eye. I'm saying nothing about usefulness, mind.
Now, when you got over your disappointment, let me try and help push your feelings in the other direction somewhat. If not for one major failing, a failing that in my opinion is so huge, it makes this game unworthy of an award, FSM is so good as to be on the same level of CM2. No, it isn't better, but it is comparable. I can now recommend it to true fans of soccer management sims who want something else. If only it wasn't for that one failing...
Mouth open, tongue hanging. No, it cant be. Can it?
Curious? The above was my reaction when I understood that FSM does not, in any way whatsoever, support a multiplayer option. Now, if you are like me, and think that one of the biggest attractions of this type of game is playing it with other humans, then I suggest that you stop reading right now and go back to the greenish screens of CM2. If not, read on.
I got the pre release version of FSM, a gold master final beta thing that says "reviewable software". It came with a photocopied manual of the actual game, which was somewhat lacking in material. I also received another CD, with the demo screenshots from the game, something that helped me immensely in writing this review. Why am I telling you this? Because it shows the kind of attention to detail that appears everywhere through FSM. I am talking about those little things that make life generally easier, things that grant more accessibility to a game. It starts with a hierarchical, two-level menu system that is easy to use, and spans through to tiny graphical representations of each player's assigned tactics on the tactics screen, something that helps you avoid having to look at each player separately while running a match. More on FSM 's user interface later, though.
Installing FSM is easy to do. It requires DirectX3, which it will install if you ask it to. A typical installation runs about 65MB on your drive, which falls within accepted standards today. It doesn't have any noticeable bugs, except once when it crashed on me unexpectedly and dumped me back to Windows.
You have the option of playing one of five leagues- England (all four leagues), Germany, France, Scotland and Italy (the top two leagues in each of last four). You can also install the game using any of those languages. You can have as many games as you like- there isn't a limit on the saved game slots. This isn't as helpful as it sounds, as you cannot save a game in progress- FSM saves your game for you. No more exiting if your two star players get injured for two years during a match. I don't like this, because in rare times, this sort of cheating can help you avoid a lot of frustration, but I suppose it is more realistic. As a sidenote, you cannot change to another game while playing- you need to exit and start over.
The interface is very graphical. Where CM2 uses a business-like front end, with a green background and a lot of text, FSM takes a different approach. There are icons for every action, and graphs, and stadium pictures, and lots and lots of colors. It could have been totally confusing, but EAsomehow managed to keep it simple enough to use, the main reason being that every icon has a textual description which appears clearly on the bottom left of the screen when hovering over it. As it is, its a refreshing change from CM2 's somewhat boring interface, and I believe that many people would prefer it (I don't myself, but then again, I am a UNIX, as opposed to Windows, person). I must note that FSM 's interface is not too cluttered with useless info- there is just enough on each screen to make things meaningful while easy to understand.
The role of manager is rarely glorious
Running your team in FSM is quite detailed. The first menu is the Squad menu, where you prepare your team. You can decide on team level tactics, like all out attack or time wasting or even change defense, midfield and attack "zones", and individual tactics, like whether to concentrate on passes, long balls, running into open spaces, shooting on sight and others. You can even give biases to your players, for example biasing your star striker into dribbling the ball more, or telling your tough central defender to rush more into tackles. In here you also buy and sell players, decide on training, get graph analysis of your team's performance, and get detailed reports on each of your players.
The second menu is the Facilities menu, where you decide on pitch maintenance and stadium expansions. The former is done simply by spending money when you get warning signs (like an announcement from Fifa that until the pitch is repaired, you wont be able to use it in their tournaments). The latter allows you to do everything from expanding specific stands to buying land around the stadium. You can even watch your stadium from its four sides, and admire your work. And to top it all off, the stadiums appear as the background for each pre-match screen. Heh.
The Finances menu is where you control the monetary aspects of running your team. This included player contracts, which conveniently appear in the form of pay-per-month/months left. You can also control concessions, like a burger bar, taxi rank, sports shop and others. You can make loans, control the level of available merchandise and its prices, and determine ticket prices and availability. You can have financial analysis, in the form of a color coded graph where you turn features (like ticket sales) on and off to your hearts content. One aspect I liked very much is the way FSM tells you how well you are succeeding, in that on the player value table, there is each player's original value, current value, and the difference. Wanna know how much that 22 year old youngster you brought 3 years ago from the third division has gained in value? It gives you the number right there. No need to go look in any career history, like in CM2. Nice.
The last is the Events organizer menu, where you can see results, divisions, cups, tournaments etc. One very interesting feature here is linked with the match view. After every match, you are asked whether you want to save the replay. If you do, then you may, at any time in the future, watch this match again using the archive from the Event menu. This is such a wonderful feature that I think it needs to be inserted into every such game from now onwards. Here you can also see your latest match report.
Yeah, I know. Stats.
And now we come to what many consider to be CM2 's strongest- stats. Well, what can I say? FSM is just as good. Every player is described using 24 different 1-100 stats, which are conveniently grouped into "super-skills". This means that you can, for example, look at a players technical ability by looking at his skill level, a single average rating, or expand this to show all five "sub-skills" which comprise the set- Shooting, Heading, Passing, Control, and Dribbling. This is so much more better than anything else on the market- yes, even CM2 - that it allows stat freaks and easy gamers both to enjoy the game together. You like detail? Expand the sets. Don't like too much numbers to juggle? Look at the averages instead.
But wait. It gets better. You can sort through your players using any skill or sub-skill, or averages of different ones. Just click on a skill name, and it will be highlighted, and all your players will be sorted conforming to that skill. Wanna sort them using Heading (a sub-skill), Power (a "super" skill-set, which included a number of skills), and Awareness (a standalone skill)? No problem. Click all three, and your players will be instantly sorted using the total average. To give you an idea how easily accessible this makes the game, it took me less than 15 minutes from when I ran the game for the first time, to decide on my best lineup. It also makes looking for new players to buy much, much easier.
One more word on stats. I don't know if there are any hidden ratings- I suspect not. FSM also lacks CM2 's detailed in-game stats- it uses the well known "passes-shots-tackles-form" method. But since the match view is good enough for you to understand what your players are actually doing, I cant hold this fact against it. Yes, FSM is just as good, statistically, as CM2 is. And considering the much expanded ability to decide on team and individual tactics, I daresay that it even exceeds the latter, as you can take much better advantage of any player's skills.
Breezing through the seasons
The game is played on a day-to-day basis, again much like CM2. It doesn't stop, however, unless there is a major event- like a game to be played, or a player agrees to join your team, etc. It runs about much faster, which makes me suspect it generates other games' results differently from yours.
There is quite a lot to do, and there aren't any assistants, but you can choose default options almost everywhere- team tactics, finances issues, training... you can actually run FSM almost without human intervention. This goes a little too far at times, with the most striking demonstration being your inability to schedule friendlies. Or, at least, I found no way of doing so. I strongly suggest actively checking every option once in a while to see if the mysterious forces of team control behave as they should.
Deciding on a team before a match is a joy to the eye and mind. You have the customary "team view", with every player represented using a tiny shirt on a small field. Each player has his own shirt number, which does not change. Every player also has minuscule icons attached showing specific tactics he is using, saving you a lot of traveling through menus. But the biggest improvement in this interface over any other is the way you decide on team formation. No, there is no "default" formation available. Actually, there isn't even a formation menu available. Instead, each player has a position, accompanied by an appropriate stat, that decides where he plays and appears in the formation. Click on his position, and you will get a list of all positions he can play, with their relevant stat level. Change his position, and his position on the field will change accordingly. This saves tons of hassle and eliminates many possible errors- you wont be fielding two right midfielders by mistake since it would instantly grab your eye. You will also not put your striker in the goalie position, since his POS rating will look so low. Subs' shirt appear on a bar to the side, again easily accessible. Changing players is a matter of dragging and dropping their shirts. In a mere 20 minutes, I fell in love with this interface.
The transfer system is still not better than CM2 's- another of the latter's incredibly strong points- but again, it is comparable. You can make offers to any number of players. You can change the purchase sum, the length of contract, and their weekly wage. You can loan players. There aren't any scouts, but you can define search criteria, like age, position, price etc., and you also have a hotlist. A small innovation is the fact that an offer stands until it is withdrawn- that is, even if someone says "no" you will need to actively withdraw your offer or he will keep saying "no" to you each week (and become annoyed). Players and teams respond in many ways (I especially liked one response, when a player said that he wouldn't like to join right now, but he was flattered by the offer and would like to be considered in the future). Response times vary, but are generally around one week. One thing that was missing was a "cap" put by your managers- for example, as a Man. Utd. manager I hired a third division player for 1 million pounds a month, and nobody said a thing. Of course, I got sacked two months later when my bank balance went down the drain. But your board IS keeping an eye on you- I bought an expensive player, and to draw him in, I gave him a rather high salary. My board then warned me that they expect good performance from this guy, because he cost so much, or else I will get the sack. This makes for much more interesting buying and selling decisions than in any other game of this type. Again, kudos to EA. A player who agrees to an offer joins your team instantly, by the way, so take care not to leave unwanted offers standing.
I know, its a long review. Bear with me for a few more minutes, as I now come to the thing that sparked the rumors- FSM 's matchplay. Well, it is relatively OK, with a look which is between USM2 and PM97. You get a three-quarters look, which you can rotate 180 degrees or change to an overhead look, and which shows about two thirds of the field at any one time (entire field in overhead mode). Players have different skin and hair colors, but are generally too small to have any substantial differentiating details. But the view is clear and easy to follow. You see the player holding the ball's name at the bottom, and as things move rather slowly, it is possible to read without being distracted. You have the options of replay (up to the entire match), change tactics/subs (which waits until there is a stop in play, and in the meanwhile shows you a blinking icon at the top left), and running twice as fast. Players generally behave reasonably, although there are some glaring errors (like keepers who almost never advance out of their goal, or defenders running away from an attacker with the ball for no apparent reason). You do see a difference when you change individual tactics, and also in physical attributes- a faster player will run quicker than a slower one. And, of course, a better shooter will always have a higher percentage on goal, and a more skillful player will use the more flashier moves (yes, I have seen a goal scored from a bicycle kick). A game typically takes about 3-4 minutes, and always ends up "on the second".
A minor problem is with in game announcements, like cards. In these cases, the offender's name is shown in a popup window, along with the card, but it disappears almost instantly, leaving you wondering who it really was. Oh well. You can always go and look in the game stats screen and check it out. Its annoying, but this might have been solved in the released version. The game results seem consistently realistic, without the PM97 7-1 type inflation.
Its a draw. Finally, its a draw
I will finish as I opened- I will not play FSM any longer, because of its lack of a multiplayer option. For me, this is a crucial matter, especially as it is so easy to add. I play CM2 solely with a friend, and FSM is not good enough to cure me of the habit. But if you don't care so much about it, or enjoy solo play just as much, then I am tremendously happy to say that CM2, while not being removed from its respectable place, now has a joint leader. FSM is just as good, being better in some areas while staying under in some others. But, overall, if you prefer to see your matches, and flashiness does not annoy you, this game might be your ticket. Oh, EA, why not multiplay?
Now its time for me to sit back and await the flames from CM2 devotees.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
1111111111111111111 2019-11-28 0 point
Put the MENUS.EXE file or any non-archive file into the “games” folder.
Open the game, first run MENUS.EXE archive or any non-archive file, and then will automatically quit the game.
Enter the game again and run your own archive.
Good thing have happened：
After watching the match, there will be no black screen.
Bobby Robson 2019-11-16 0 point
Fantastic game! Match highlights (although not particularly amazing graphics even for the day) are the best of any footie management game. Stadiums and their locations are based accurately on their real life counterparts. A damn good game. Just remember to install the official update patch, as otherwise the best players in the game get older and older & no new ones appear.
Crazy e 2019-10-09 0 point
is there any way past the needing of the CD? I looked to amend via registry but cannot find how to get into the registry
Karim 2019-05-06 0 point
Hey PCEM, the official 97/98 patch on ES´s ftp site is not available anymore, do you have it? Maybe you could upload it on this site or send it to me if you can? (also if someone found a patch or solution for the 3D engine crash, plz let us know.
FIFA Soccer Manager 2018-12-12 1 point
Designing and building stands / stadium makes this different to most
Steven 2018-08-28 -1 point
Mounting the CD with Daemon Tools (IDE Drive) worked for me, but I had to go into the registry and look for FIFA Soccer Manager and change the CD drive letter to where my image was mounted. In my case it was i: Then it worked, unfortunately, under Windows 7 all the colours are messed up.
Bot 2017-11-02 -2 points
Hey Robot, did you ever find a fix for the crash directly after 3D match engine?
RoBoT 2017-10-12 0 point
Does anyone have a fix for crashing directly after 3D match engine?
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