The ever-popular Football Manager series continues with a new installment. As a yearly release, it’s unsurprising that Football Manager 2022 doesn’t much alter the basic experience; it’s essentially the same game, and only die-hard fans wait for the new version every year. Aside from that (extremely sports game-centric) drawback, FM22 is one of the best recent releases in the series. Advanced analytics, notable improvements to the match engine, and a beautiful graphic redesign are all included in this edition, all of which enhance the experience. With deeper day-to-day front-office mechanisms, FM22’s matches look better and play out more realistically than ever before (namely improved Staff Meetings, Transfer Deadline Day, and the new Data Hub). Is Football Manager 2022, which costs $54.99, the best PC game ever? Yes, in a word.
Football Manager 2022 features graphic and mechanical upgrades in several areas, making it the finest series entry yet. No one release from an annualized franchise revolutionizes the gameplay experience, but it is the best series entry yet.
- One of the most comprehensive simulation games of any kind Slick design, upgraded match engine, and animations that enhance the in-game experience
- The new Data Hub is impressive, and the statistics are advanced.
- Long-distance running mechanics have been improved in a positive way.
- A substantial learning curve is present.
- There are no comprehensive licenses or logos.
- Some simulation quirks still exist.
FOOTBALL MANAGER 2022 (FOR PC) SPECS
|Games Genre||Simulation, Sports|
|ESRB Rating||E for Everybody|
An Overview of Football Management
The primary appeal of this simulation series hasn’t changed: You establish a manager profile, join a club as the new manager, and take direct control of tactics, training, and player transfers while attempting to accomplish the club’s goals. Depending on the size of your team, there are different elements to choose, such as objectives and budget, but the common thread is regulating the minor details and watching simulated matches play out according to your orders.
Football Manager 2018 was the first game in the series that I reviewed for PCMag. I talked about Football Manager‘s general minute-to-minute gameplay and appeal, as well as its potential as a vehicle for emergent storytelling. Check out that review if you’re unfamiliar with the series and want a deeper knowledge of what you do in these games, or if you want to read my entire assessment of what the games have to offer. These are among of the most detailed simulations of any kind, with an incredible amount of real-world data (including genuine scouting of players to inform ratings), real-life club workers, and minute minutiae.
Because the basic game remains unchanged, each annual iteration focuses on enhancements to features, the user interface, and the player database. As a result, I’ll focus on what’s new in 2022. Upgrades to the match engine, improved implementation and presentation of complex analytics, and new versions of Staff Meetings and Transfer Deadline Day are among the highlights of this year’s edition.
A short word for new players: The tooltip and walkthrough-based tutorials do a fantastic job of explaining things, while there is a lot to take in at once. Despite being a seasoned player, I gave these a shot to see how far they could go, however it was tough to separate myself from my prior knowledge of the systems. I appreciate that this game appears frightening from the outside, but the basic duties of controlling and progressing are not as difficult as they appear.
There is a learning curve in FM22, but there are few ways to completely wreck your squad other than canceling a bunch of player contracts, which is extremely difficult to do by accident. The most common source of trouble is losing track of where a certain menu or option is located, or forgetting the easiest way to make a modification or check contract information. All of this comes with practice, and in my experience, you won’t remember when the options were strange in the first place.
The (More) Lovely Game
Football Manager‘s simulated games are powered by the match engine. You never have direct control over the action as a manager; instead, you observe it unfold in simple 2D or 3D field views. Your players try their best to follow the formation, tactics, and roles you’ve established between matches, and you can disrupt the flow of the game with substitutions or a change in style during a match.
The game’s engine is simulating the outcome depending on your players’ qualities, fitness, morale, and how well your tactics fit your players’ (and the opposition’s) setup. This is reflected in your players’ motions and decisions, and the match engine has been updated to provide more varied and realistic images than in previous iterations.
There are more animations available, such as first touches, spins, and passes. When you don’t know what to expect while watching a play, it adds to the intrigue, so a little flair goes a long way. Even if the aesthetics are still on the plain side overall, the player models and animations look a little more human when they play and handle the ball, which goes a long way.
Players make even more errors, but I’m not talking about bugs or strange match-losing situations. They imitated common faults made by real players, such as overhitting the ball and failing to be robotically flawless. This is especially true as weariness sets in, as developer Sports Interactive altered the efficiency of presses and sprints when players are exhausted. The digital athletes are still largely successful in carrying out your methods when they are applicable, which is an improvement over previous editions, but the simulation is a little more organic.
However, there are some quirks. For example, despite a narrow, through-the-middle play style and directives from my wide players to cross less, one of my teams was hell-bent on spamming crosses. Furthermore, the players do not square the ball in the box for an easier shot often enough (even when it is the obvious alternative), opting instead for a bad-angle attempt.
Still, the match engine looks and performs better than it did previously. Even if it doesn’t revolutionize the series, it’s a win as one of the key themes of this year’s update. Unless the core systems are radically redesigned, few particular features will survive. Over the following several years, the series is far more likely to improve iteratively.
A Deep Dive into the Data
The new Data Hub, which is accessible in a tab on the left side of the screen, is the most major addition outside of matches. In real-world football, advanced analytics has blossomed, both internally at clubs and externally in terms of fan consumption on broadcasts and social media. A leading measure, such as Expected Goals, is significantly more common to see on Premier League broadcasts or hear managers discuss in news conferences. Clubs engage internal teams or consultants to analyze massive amounts of data about players both inside and outside the club, which they can use to improve set pieces, alter tactical systems, or identify transfer objectives.
All of this is to imply that failing to include a digestible and versatile data system in the game would be a major flaw, and you can go deep in Football Manager 2022. The Data Hub contains a variety of analytics, as well as individual player stats, concerning your team’s patterns on both sides of the ball. You can assign comparables to players to evaluate how they compare, and you can ask your analysts to pull data for you to review later.
None of this is required to play the game, but it is indicative of the kind of richer experience this franchise provides in comparison to FIFA’s career mode. You can dig into the statistics to see if there’s anything wrong with your attack, or you can just take it all in and make sure your results aren’t a fluke (for instance, your players really are creating high-quality chances with consistency, meaning that your tactics are working). Expected Goals was introduced in a previous iteration, but this year, it and the other metrics are far more digestible and configurable, and they pervade the game’s menus. There’s more to data implementation than I’ll cover here, but it’s useful as a tool to recap what’s happened as well as project what you can or should do better in the future.
Management that is more streamlined
Finally, an annual entry wouldn’t be complete without a UI refresh, and this is one of the better entries in terms of appearance and functionality. The default skin has a black backdrop with purple and pink hues that are attractive to the eye. Most key menu pages have had modest layout changes, making them the smoothest and most navigable they’ve ever been. Recent editions have introduced too much clutter, and this appears to be the ideal compromise between old and modern aesthetics.
Transfer Deadline Day and Staff Meetings are the two greatest individual beneficiaries of this year’s update. Neither is necessary, but they are both better versions of what was previously available. Transfer Deadline Day (the final day of a transfer window during which teams are authorized to purchase and sell players) is more utilitarian than an unhelpful media day, and it comes with a suitably dramatic new wrapping. You can cram additional conversations into this day to finish up any last-minute business, effectively moving one hour forward each time you push the continue button.
This is an excellent picture of how teams squeeze deals in on deadline day, which happens all the time despite the months of planning and conversations they had beforehand. You won’t need it every time a window opens, but sometimes a late opportunity presents itself, and racing against the turn-based clock to close a deal is strangely satisfying. It’s a solid, unique experience, especially when combined with the bespoke deadline day visual treatment.
Staff meetings have occurred in a variety of formats in the past, but this year’s are particularly thorough. These meetings are set up on your calendar as often as you’d like (until you turn them off entirely) to discuss various parts of the squad with your team. Your coaches—then the recruiting and player development teams—bring you issues and advise based on their own research and analytics.
Specific training emphasis for athletes, new staff recruitment, and who merits a new contract are among the proposals. You may take action on these right away from within the meeting with a single click of a button, which is quite convenient. You have the option of ignoring it or having them remind you in two weeks, making the entire process personalized. I found myself skimming through more than I did at the start after a couple seasons with a consistent team. Even so, you have a feeling of what you can skim through, and all you have to do now is act on what you desire. All of the recommendations aren’t required (or good, frankly).
A Bigger Picture
Because these are the new features in this year’s version, they’re the natural topic for an annual release review. That may come out as simply positive praise for FM22, but my viewpoint stems from the fact that the base product offered by Sports Interactive is already of great quality, and these improvements improve it. Some of the series’ flaws remain as well; I’m not going to pretend that this year’s edition is ideal by focusing solely on the new additions, but the flaws aren’t unique to this edition. The majority of prominent complaints are pre-existing, with the exception of the aforementioned quibbles.
One of the major disappointments, albeit an acceptable one, is the lack of most licenses, badges, and player portraits. These are extremely expensive to obtain, and are typically held by much larger game companies as part of a deal. The majority of player profiles lack an actual player photo, club insignia are replaced with generic lookalikes, and several competition names aren’t exact replicas of real-world competitions (there are some instances where the developers have the rights to photos and official names).
On the whole, the animations and engine have improved, but there are still certain in-game occasions where a player makes a questionable decision that has little to do with their stats. Even if any top-flight player would square the ball or not pass 30 yards backward in the middle of an attack in real life, these things nonetheless happen in games. These occurrences are less common in FM22, but they are still aggravating.
Any game AI that is focused on negotiation or relationships has its own set of idiosyncrasies. Even if you’re performing well in the broader picture, your board has some unusual, often severe readings of the situation based on one or two results. Players, as has been the case in the past, can get overly concerned with circumstances that do not affect them, putting themselves in positions they would not otherwise be in. These situations, as well as other insistences from your players to play more (often despite starting frequently), or to seek a new contract shortly after signing one, can be aggravating to micromanage on a regular basis.
The transfer AI is generally rather strong, and this is likely the most significant aspect. Improvements in this area have been acknowledged by the developers, and I can attest that they are noticeable. Clubs are hesitant to let top players go, and they frequently reject any deal, just as they would in real life. The same is true for young stars, who in the past could usually be enticed away with a reasonable offer—clubs now demand exorbitant amounts for their star prospects. It can be excessive at times—after all, as a smaller club, are you really going to take a €80 million offer for a 19-year-old?—but it makes negotiations more difficult, and it’s not as easy to swiftly acquire a group of stars.
However, with a little perseverance at a wealthy club, you can create something resembling a fantasy team in a few seasons. Did I mention you can immediately try to arrange a free transfer for Kylian Mbappe? Soon after opening the file, I may or may not have enticed him to join my Chelsea team. This is part of the appeal of playing for a big, wealthy club, but it may make saves feel the same across clubs because the finest targets are all reachable. That’s when it’s probably time to take on the role of a lower-league team and compete for promotion, which comes with its own set of challenges and rewards.
Is your PC capable of running Football Manager 2022?
Football Manager doesn’t appear to be a difficult game at first glance, but appearances may be deceiving. Although you don’t need a discrete or unusually powerful GPU to execute the game’s relatively simple visuals, lower-end cards cause the game to look fuzzy and lack clarity. It’s not necessary to have a high-end gaming machine (the lowest GPU needed is an AMD Radeon HD 3650, Intel GMA X4500, or Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT), but it certainly helps.
Because the simulation crunches a lot of numbers, your processing power will make or break your FM 2022 experience. The game requires an AMD Athlon or Intel Core 2 processor, however if your PC just meets those requirements, you’ll have lengthier sim wait times. A minimum of 4GB of RAM is required, although additional RAM results in considerably higher performance. In addition, the game requires a minimum of 7GB of storage and the Windows 7 operating system.
My high-end gaming machine (Intel Core i7 CPU, 32GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU) is more than capable of running FM 2022 at its highest settings, however even with that capability, the in-game simulation speed rating wasn’t reached. Sim forwarding was still rather swift, and the speed rating is dependent on how much a player and staff database you load for your game. I also tested the game on the couch with a gaming laptop and a laptop with integrated graphics, and it performed admirably on both. However, anything that is too old will struggle. Furthermore, because the resolution of the game has a significant impact on performance, dropping it to 1080p if you’re using a QHD or 4K PC should keep everything operating smoothly.
Form that has won a championship
Football Manager 2022 features the same highs and lows that have made the game so popular with players all around the world. To some, the incomprehensible string of menus, graphs, and figures may appear to be the polar opposite of what they anticipate from a sports game, but it more than compensates for your investment.
I understand why people don’t engage in every release of a yearly series—at its foundation, each entry is much the same game—but this edition is one of the stronger entries in recent years on its own. Whether you’re an annual buyer, haven’t upgraded in a few years, or are a first-time player, the clean aesthetic, better match engine, and advanced data enhancements make this a deep and comprehensive simulation.
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