Football Manager 09 Preview (PC)

It's rare that Sports Interactive feels the need to shout from the rooftops about its most prized asset, but 2009 should mark a watershed year for the series. The usual raft of refinements and upgrades are wrapped around some core changes that'll polarise opinion in long-term fans, and with the Xbox 360 version taking a much-needed hiatus, SI is free to concentrate on the PC to deliver a long-awaited revolution. Not that we wouldn't have bought it anyway.

The most striking upgrade comes in the form of an overhauled and fully-3D match engine. Extrapolating 2D movement data to form the basis of a dynamically-realised 3D encounter is no easy task to achieve, so SI has wisely enlisted the help of Sega's Virtua Striker team to provide the motion-capture legwork - with early results showing considerable promise through some rough edges. Ball movement is believable and relatively realistic, with a minor disconnect between animations that we're promised will be ironed out before release.

The FM Live DVR-style timeline bar also makes a welcome appearance, allowing 3D highlights to be rewound and viewed from any angle perfect for those of you that want a closer look at crucial tactical gaffs. It's an intuitive system that'll be familiar to users of Windows Media Player or any other similar video playback system, slotting neatly into the tactical overlay and available at any stage in the game. Good stuff.

For all the visual pizazz, player movement and behaviour is still governed by the same underlying calculations as previous iterations, with the 3D visuals simply slotting in over the top. With motion-blending and over 100 animations to add to the final release, we're expecting marked improvements in the coming months, but have no doubt that this is a feature that'll make or break the enchanting spell that characterises Football Manager. At this stage we're hoping and expecting it'll be the former for most players.

Complimenting the upgraded visuals is a brand new assistant manager service, offering up a suite of pre-match and in-game advice to help outwit your opponents and minimise tactical errors. As ever, the assistant is fully customisable and can be tailored to specific skill levels, useful for both new players and long-time fans alike, and if the expanded and improved media interaction is anything to go by, you'll want to use it often. Reporters will now harass you over quotes made in the heat of battle months before, with pre and post-game press conferences featuring for the first time. The media circus is looking to be as brutal as real life, something of a sad indictment for our national pastime.

Rounding out the list of improvements is an expanded board confidence section, players that cite preferred moves, updated competitions featuring over 350,000 players across a total of 5000 teams, widescreen support, realistic country-specific financial models for each team, and the ability to play as a female manager for the first time in Football Manager history. The underlying code for the transfer system has also been re-written from the ground-up for improved speed and accuracy, something fans have been clamouring for in the previous few seasons.

Provided the animation comes together before release, FM 2009 is shaping up to become more than the expected annual evolution with improved stats. As a series that reinvents itself visually every 3-4 years, this is perhaps the most comprehensive update yet, and will no doubt attract a similar level of ire and confusion as the initial release of Championship Manager 4. Lest we forget, that turned out to be the fastest-selling PC game of all time in the UK, so no matter how alien the alterations seem at first, we'll trust SI to deliver the goods this coming November.

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By sfabobby03 (SI Veteran Newbie) on Sep 04, 2008
I have never really cared much for soccer games but after watching a lot of it on the olympics I am considering getting a soccer game. This one looks like it is going to be pretty good!
By RastaKid (SI Veteran Newbie) on Sep 04, 2008
I'm really looking forward to this game.I've played other Football Managers but this one actually looks like it's the best one.
By RastaKid (SI Veteran Newbie) on Sep 04, 2008
I've played a lot of Football Managers but this one looks like It's the best one.I'm looking forward to this game.
By breakdancingindian (I just got here) on Sep 05, 2008
I´ve actually played Football Manager (back when it was called Championship Manager (or only cm)) from the very very beginning, the first game on AMIGA, and I am incredibly excited about this new 3d-engine. Not that I think they HAD to introduce it, but because it´s a giant leap forward from the "old" 2d. This version of the game seems more like a "new" game than an "update." I hope the new transfer-system will also be better than previous ones. Can´t wait!
By sunny3220 (SI Newbie) on Sep 06, 2008
really looking forward to it.
By sunny3220 (SI Newbie) on Sep 06, 2008
really looking forward to it.
By enthusiast (SI Newbie) on Sep 06, 2008
Eh not my kind of game.
By red-devil-la (I just got here) on Sep 25, 2008
the football manager series has really been excellent and i really do think this will top them all
By TorinoFC (SI Newbie) on Oct 17, 2008
The game looks very good but i hope that they will remove some bugs like easy gools from corner or importance of good goalkeeper who is the most important player of each ream in the game.
By raydenvm (I just got here) on Oct 28, 2008
Latest and hottest news about Football Manager 2009 are available at:

It's quite interesting to read there the independent opinion about FM 2009 features.
By King of all (I just got here) on Nov 04, 2008
King of all
My God I’m going to Pee my pants with excitement………….AAAAAAaaarrrrr to late!!