Well, well, well. It’s a funny old world. There I was yesterday, completely in the doldrums, as dejected about the (frankly) piss-poor next-gen PES2008 as I’ve ever been and declaring myself down on all football games.
I spent the day mooching about on the computer. In mid-afternoon I was happy to receive a confirmation e-mail from Amazon telling me that my PSP copy of PES2008 has dispatched.
At least that’s something, I thought. I have high hopes for the PSP version of the game—maybe it’ll save my PES year. Something’s got to save it, because next-gen PES2008 might never see the inside of my PS3 again. Seriously.
So the approach of the PSP version was a bonus. I felt slightly cheered up, and then in the early evening I received another email:
About four months ago (not ‘recently’ as the mail claims) I put my name down to be a Beta tester on the forthcoming Football Manager Live. And then promptly forgot all about it. Until yesterday afternoon, when the above invitation landed in my inbox.
As well as the expected Terms & Conditions (please don’t ask me for a download link and a password), there was a pdf. guide. The first paragraph contains a very concise, in-a-nutshell description of what FM Live is:
I downloaded the client—a very quick download and a trouble-free installation. A couple more emails and secret passwords later, and I was playing. I was playing Football Manager Live!
At the time of writing I’ve only spent about 40 minutes in the game. I plan to spend a lot more today and over the weekend.
That 40 minutes was long enough for me to set up a manager profile; choose a team and customise its name, appearance and home stadium; acquire a full 22-player squad; choose an initial formation and some basic tactics; and, of course, play a friendly game against another human opponent. (The full competitive season doesn’t get underway until next week.)
My human opponent was a Dutchman who, like me, had received his invitation email less than an hour previously. We sent our teams out onto the virtual pitch and watched the action. Attentive readers of this blog will know that the regular Football Manager game is a little too taxing for my PC and causes it to reboot at random. So I was worried how FM Live would perform, especially during the 2D matches. But the FM Live client seems to be a touch ‘lighter’—in terms of system resources used—than its bigger, older sibling.
I won my game and went back out into the game world lobby, which was rapidly filling up with new and excited players. Doubtless I was one of several hundred new Beta testers, most of whom would be discovering their invitation emails and logging on over the course of the evening.
Anybody who has played any recent version of Football Manager won’t have any trouble finding their way around the FM Live menus. Everything from the main game is in the online game. The tactics screens—for the team and for individual players—are exactly the same. Ditto the player transfer screen.
All in all I am very impressed. The FM Live interface is clean, intuitive, and compelling. You want to do more, discover more, see more. Unlike most MMOG experiences, the other players seem to be a sensible, mature lot. I’m not saying that I dislike the kids who inhabit most other MMOGs that I’ve played. Just that their brand of ‘OMFG u suk!’ interaction isn’t to my taste…
It was perhaps the most intriguing 40 minutes I’ve spent on an online game in a very long time. I’m looking forward to sampling some more of that world later today and over the weekend. And with a bit of luck my PSP version of PES2008 will turn up in today’s post. After being almost in the pit of despair yesterday, happy days are here again.