Monday, May 08, 2006

An Overview

When it comes to football games, there really are only two types. You've got "arcade" titles like PES and FIFA, which let you have control over the team and play the matches, and there are management titles like Football Manager and FIFA Manager, sitting you in charge of the team, making signings and generally trying to earn your sheepskin coat.

Come to think of it, why don't managers wear sheepskin any more? Losing a part of history, we are.

Anyway, either system tends to be somewhat flawed. Arcade games lose their way in single player by not offering sufficient challenge or options. The best way to play PES is undoubtedly competitively, and as good as the Master League is can anyone argue that a convoluted points system is better than the tried and tested transfer market of classic management games? Speaking of which, a management game can often descend into a frustrating affair when the team start losing and you can't fix the problem. The games are still enormous fun, but they're not "perfect".

What would be perfect, really, is a merger of the two. And I know I'm not the first person to think of that, or even in the top million. Videogame Hell is full of failed attempts - Onside Soccer, Kick Off World and more. The closest any game has ever come has been Sensible World of Soccer, so it seems only fair that I dissect it, suck its juices and see what sparkles.

SWOS is an arcade game. Its focus is entirely on its superb matchday experience - the actual management options are, in truth, dire. No clubs make transfers other than you, signing players is about money and nothing else, and there's precious little management. It's game after game, and you can improve your squad. That's it. Which is actually why Sensible World of Soccer is so good. Jon Hare and company knew where the faults lay, and they refused to highlight them.

Combination games have failed because it is extremely difficult to marry the two components together whilst keeping the scales balanced. You don't want to result in a situation where a gamer can be successful by being good at the match portion - otherwise the entire management section is worthless. Similarly, you can't place too much emphasis on management and tactical selection without making the match day a frustrating chore. You've got to be in control... while at the same time being up against the odds as a lower league side in the FA Cup. How do you do that?

That's the problem faced with The Complete Football Game, which I assure you is still a working title and not the name of the real thing. A game that not only presents you with some arcade antics, but lets you get down and dirty with plenty of management aspects, including in-depth tactical options, man management, media handling and more besides. Having your players working together on the training field, you'll want to take that into the match and put your plan into action. You can't just show up on the day in real life, and you can't do it in the game.

Like SWOS, there will be an entire world to be a part of, with leagues as famous as La Liga, or as obscure as the Isle of Man Football Combination. You want to be a part of a living, breathing football world full of ecstasy, pain and chaos. You want to embark on a career as a manager, a player or a chairman, each with your own personal goals. The football world is your personal playground.

Each fortnight I'll expand on these various elements, how they should shape up, why they are as they are, and their impact on the overall game.

Or alternatively, as it has panned out, I won't.

But I can pee all by myself, so it kinda works out well in the end.

No comments: