Probably the best new addition to the game is the overhaul of the confidence system. In the past it was often difficult to gauge what the board and fans thought of how you were doing, occasionally resulting in being dismissed despite you thinking everything was going well. Such problems have been eliminated, replaced by a plethora of feedback that help keeps you appraised at all times as well as creating a realistic sense of constant scrutiny.
This process begins at the beginning of the season, where you’re able to set your own objectives and aims for the season. Being more ambitious will allow you more funds for transfers and a larger wage budget, but falling below your own aims will result in a significant backlash. As part of the new system you get confidence feedback from both the fans and board, based on long term expectations, competition performance, finance management, signings and individual matches. You’re even told when fans are concerned about individual players, while your own signings come under particular scrutiny. Spend a cool £30 million on a useless mercenary midfielder – *ahem* Ballack – and you can expect not to hear the end of it.
This, for me, is best change in FM2008 but some praise must also be reserved for the overhauled international management system. Now, this part of Football Manager has always been considered the poor relation to the rest of game, much like it is real life really. However, now international management is a good deal easier and more compelling thanks to the inclusion of a proper scouting system and more media interaction. It’s never going to become the key attraction of the game, but it’s certainly an improvement over the mess that existed before it.
Aside from all this there’s a number of other tweaks and new features to be found in the game: regenerated players and staff now feature computer generated likenesses, while a particularly neat new feature is the ability to allocate unspent transfer funds to boost the wage budget. If you’ve ever wanted to sign a player but been thwarted by wage restrictions, you’ll understand how useful a feature this is. It’s also a pleasantly fast game, running just as well on my 3.4GHz Pentium 4 work machine as it did on my 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo equipped home PC. This is a good sign, especially for those who like to play FM on a notebook.
To surmise then, as is the case with many Football Manager releases, FM2008 is an evolution rather than a revolution. This is no bad thing, especially since past experience has shown revolutionary leaps in the series to be fraught with difficulty. Moreover, the new skin and advances in the confidence system add a lot to what was already an incredibly strong game, while the new advisor system makes it the most accessible version of the game in a long while. Crucially, it seems as though Sports Interactive has successfully avoided turning the game into a feature bloated mess, as was the fear a few years back. As such, it’s safe to say this is the best Football Manager yet, which is all recommendation it needs.
It was the best and still is the best. If you’re serious about the business of pretending to be a football manager then FM2008 is the game for you, there’s nothing more to it than that.