Thanks to SEGA EUROPE for the review code
Title: Football Manager Touch 2018
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 04/13/2018
In this management sim, you take control of a coach that must help his team win the world championships! Really, the only stories to speak of come from what’s provided in the challenges on offer along with the details of how your season is going, since as a sim this isn’t much of a story heavy game outside of what you create.
This game is all about the presentation, and I mean all, since there’s not much gameplay to speak of. Don’t go into this expecting an experience like FIFA or anything of the sort, (the title should give that notion away but rather think of it like a complex management game like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, just with Soccer instead of war games and a lot more injuries. Of course, in such management games, the key to a good experience is a smooth, silky UI, and unfortunately the Switch version of Football Manager Touch doesn’t have any of that. Obviously with a game with Touch in the name, the game is vastly, vastly superior when played in the Switch’s handheld mode over the docked mode. Don’t even think about playing this in docked mode, as the controller emulates a cursor and it moves painfully slow beyond belief, which combined with laggy menus and long save/loading times makes the game a chore to play in docked mode and even in handheld mode to an extent. (the lag and loading times aren’t fixed in handheld) The menus are even worse, being clunky and convoluted messes that the game makes little effort to explain for newcomers or even returning veterans interested in the new stuff.
Sometimes you’ll be able to watch your team play a soccer match, sped up, and during these segments the roots of it being a mobile game are blatant. Static crowd images, players lacking facial features entirely, and a dull grass texture all make the action not that fun to watch, but at least it goes by rather quickly. As for the music? Well, outside of a pretty crappy vocal song, there’s nothing else to speak of outside of crowd noises. Most of your time in menus is spent with silence.
With all the discussion of the UI out of the way, how does the game actually work, what’s the goal and is it accessible to newbies like myself? Well, considering how the touch versions are meant to be abridged, mobile-friendly versions of the traditional Football Manager experience, it does feature less than the full-fledged counterparts, making the general goal of leading your team to victory easier to grasp, and the game does offer multiple ways to start a team that can lead to the early bit of your career being a bit easier. With all that said, the game’s first and biggest problem is made apparent right away: There’s no guidance to speak of. Little outside of “use these to do these” and “don’t let your team’s health get too low so they don’t suck”, and as a newcomer this led to massive information overload, especially when I was dumb enough to do the challenge modes first which are even tougher than the main campaigns as they task you with specific teams they want you to fix and improve over the course of a year or more. Needless to say, this led to the game feeling like I was doing random crud that didn’t make any sense to speak of, and I didn’t feel like I even had control over my team with them randomly getting injured and whatnot, so I reset and did a basic campaign which led me to at least understand more aspects of the game.
For one, you need to make sure that your players are even capable enough of doing tasks that you assign to them on a field, and this is indicated by a star system. The less skilled the player is at a task, the more likely they’ll screw up come game time. Likewise, even if they’re skilled, they need to be well trained and maintained so they don’t get worn out, although sudden injuries can cause players to be abruptly taken away from your roster for a bit without warning. Once I understood this, I did eventually get places in the game, but that brought me to another big problem…
The UI is horribly slow, and I don’t just mean in docked mode like I mentioned earlier. Menus lag when opening up, they sometimes need an extra press to even show up, loading times can be a pain in the ass along with saving times, and the game chugs from time to time, which is insulting considering that this is a menu based game. I looked at footage of the iPad version and also asked fellow peers who were big fans of the series if it was better in other versions, and outside of the loading times I was informed that yes, the UI and menu are supposed to be much better than this, silky smooth and easy to navigate. Unfortunately, when your menus barely work and the wait for things can add to the immense boredom alongside checking your in-game email, it makes the actual matches a pain to sit through due to how things chug, even though the matches are typically at a fast pace due to a speedy timer. (And how you can skip to the end result of a game altogether, a godsend)
In conclusion, Football Manager Touch 2018 is not a good starting point for the franchise if you’re a newcomer, or even a good port of the game if you’re a veteran. Not only is it double the price of the Mobile version (coming in at $40 over the mobile version’s $20 and the steam version’s $30) for no real reason at all, (there’s no retail version out, at least not yet) but the interface is significantly worse and it’s just a pain to deal with so many laggy menus in game focused entirely on them. Even if you get the hang of the basics like I did and it does click with you, this still is not an acceptable port in the slightest, and I feel they could have done a lot more to make it more friendly for the switch and at least fairly priced/responsive. For a console debut, this is extremely average at best, which is a shame as it could have been done a lot better.
I give Football Manager Touch 2018 a 4 out of 10.