The Sports Desk – Taking Control With Club Soccer Director 2018
You've been checking your phone every two minutes hoping there is transfer news for your favorite team, so why don't you do some of your own team business while you're waiting? Club Soccer Director 2018 allows you to guide a club, from decisions during matches to transfers and financial considerations. I tried out the free iOS/Android title – featuring real teams and players – and found some satisfaction in gaining promotion for Piacenza, a third-tier Italian team.
Running a club at any level isn't easy with so many interconnected parts, but the game's email system and interface makes things manageable. You have weekly wage and transfer fee budgets, expectations from the board, and sponsorships to bring in cash. My first season I was pretty mindful of not going crazy bringing in a boat-load of players or blowing a hole in my budgets – my primary concern was simply having able bodies at every position should a starter go down.
Naturally, I didn't get all my targets (the game's helpful search/filter/suggestion functions to find players), but I was able to run a club on a shoestring budget. I didn't have the funds to upgrade my facilities as I would have liked (which would have brought in more money and made the club more attractive to outside players), nor did I hire the best staff or even concern myself with the ticket prices.
I focused on the match tactics, where I not only found success, but where got sucked into the game. The match day experience is simple: pick a squad, formation, and the general attitude of the team when they're in and out of possession (attacking, balanced, etc.) and then start the sim. Once the match begins you can toggle different speeds and presentations of the action, but my favorite was the default view that shows the flow of play via real-time arrows.
Frankly, I have no idea how accurate this depiction is of how the sim is actually figuring things out, but when you see that you're having trouble getting out of your own end for minutes at a time or the other team is marching down the field and getting chances repeatedly, naturally you feel the itch to intervene.
While your manager is a part of your staff who has his own preferred formation, playing style, and views on the squad (including transfers in/out), you're really running the show. I liked tinkering with my squad when things weren't going well during a match. Is your opponent keeping possession and driving down field? A high press might solve that. Can't mount your own attack? Perhaps you're being overrun in the midfield and a change of formation with more bodies there is the answer.
I can't say for sure I knew what I was doing, but once I made a formation and pressing change that immediately resulted in a goal and locking down the rest of the match. That was the moment that I felt a rush of intoxicating power.
Of course, I wasn't a genius and we struggled to even get into the promotion playoff, but it's these kinds of moments that helps you keep coming back to the game. Since Club Soccer Director 2018, you can spend real money to get coins which open up all sorts of doors for you, such as being able to instantly manage better clubs, cash infusions for transfers/facilities upgrades, etc. Because the finances are so tight at clubs, I suspect that the deeper you go it's inevitable you'll spend some real money to keep the club's lights on, but you can always skip to another team and effectively start over. I don't begrudge the developer this since you can at least play a season for free and everyone needs to make money for their efforts.
The game could do a better job of giving you feedback from the manager on the effect of your match-day decisions apart from simple stats like possessions, shots, etc., and the manager was similarly uncommunicative during the transfer window. I was told by the board to sign some players, and I did, but then in the middle of the window the manager suggested a specific player for the position I just signed. Couldn't that have happened before the window opened?
Anyone interested in tinkering with a club (you can also create your own) and believing their management can move mountains should check the game out. It represents the financial concerns of football without getting too bogged down in them, and when you feel you had a hand in getting your team a win, that's a great feeling, too.
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F1 2017'S CAREER MODE TAKES ANOTHER STEP FORWARD
Last year's F1 game by Codemasters did a great job reviving the series' career mode. Previously it had been shallow, but 2016 gave it depth. The developer is taking things a step further for F1 2017 (out now) with an extensive tech tree for your race team.
There are four departments of the tree: aerodynamics, chassis, durability, and powertrain. Some of the categorical upgrades (bought with your resource points) in these departments correspond to a specific part of the car, such as the front wing end plates, while others are passive. For instance, the HPP Factory Efficiency 1 upgrade reduces the resource cost of powertrain upgrades by 10 percent. Naturally, some areas of the tree require purchasing certain upgrades first, and manufacturing and installing the physical parts takes time (in weeks) versus the instantaneous passive upgrades.
You also have to make sure your power unit, gearbox, and tires are in good working order. They degrade over time (the power unit also has its own components), and while you have backups on hand, a well-run team keeps on top of things to make sure you're not left in a lurch. You can see the parts' expected lifespan and how you can prevent beating them up too much. For instance, the Kinetic Motor Generator Unit of the power unit is strained more when you repeatedly use a rich fuel mix.
These additions make gaining resource points even more important, putting even more weight on performing well versus your teammate, executing the pre-race practice and qualifying programs, and keeping up with the progress of the other race teams. It's another great turn for a career mode that has already started pulling ahead last year. I highly suggest you check out F1 2017 to experience the mode and its new upgrade tree for yourself.
MADDEN 18 REVIEW RECAP
Madden 18 is finally out, and I've had a variety of thoughts about the latest iteration of the franchise. In case you've missed it:
Everybody's Golf (PS4) - August 29
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, 360) - September 12
NASCAR Heat 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) - September 12
NHL 18 (PS4, Xbox One) - September 15
NBA 2K18 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, PS3, 360) - September 19
Project Cars 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) - September 22
FIFA 18 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, PS3, 360) - September 29
Forza Motorsport 7 (Xbox One, PC) - October 3
GT Sport (PS4) - October 17