The Sports Desk – Football Manager Touch 2018 Strikes The Switch
There aren't enough sports titles for the Switch, but thankfully developer Sports Interactive is helping the situation courtesy of one of the genre's premier franchises. Football Manager Touch 2018 is now out for the system via the eShop for $39.99. The Football Manager series is the go-to if you're interested in a soccer management sim, and the Touch version gives players plenty of options including transfers, injuries, training, and manager tinkering during matches. The Switch version is a near-port that isn't perfectly suited for the system, but nevertheless fulfills the series' promise.
The Switch version doesn't have manager interviews, multiplayer, and doesn't have the power to process more than three nations in your league's setup. It also doesn't have any cross-compatibility with any of the other versions or their saves. However, one of the main questions I had regarding this port – it's usability – is more than satisfactory. It's easy to control the many aspects of your club even though the game uses a free-moving cursor you control with the left analog stick. The attached Joy-Cons' trigger and bumper buttons let you page forward/backward and bring up supplemental menus, so you're not always using the cursor. After about 15 minutes I was fully used to the hybrid system even though it's an adaptation of the regular Touch 2018 title. There is touchscreen functionality, but there is so much on your screen that I wouldn't recommend using it.
The game lets you control lots of little details of your club, whether you decide to take over one of the giants, bring up a smaller club, or try a preset scenario like staving off relegation, but there are assistant coaches to handle what you don't want to bother with. Your youth team, scouting, transfer dealings, and much more can be taken on or avoided as much as you like. Similarly, during matches, you can setup your lineup and strategies and let the game take care of the result, or you can watch the highlights from comprehensive (a full match should take 15 minutes or so) to only a few key moments. While the match is going on, you can alter your strategy as you see fit. Whether you just want to handle your subs or actually drill down into which areas of the pitch to attack and whom should man-mark whom, it's up to you.
Of course, you can punch in instructions and yell at the screen like you're standing in a virtual technical area until you're blue in the face, but as in real life, the players in the match are going to behave their own way and make mistakes. Football Manager Touch isn't flawless in its tactical execution – nothing is, not even real life – but it's thrilling to see tactical decisions play out in front of you like when you have your team apply a hard press or have forwards underlap on the attack. It's a fine line between micromanaging situations and making smart decisions, and overall the game gives you enough tools to get the job done.
During games the action isn't always silky smooth; there is lag when selecting options with your cursor, and the loading between menu actions outside of matches can vary depending on how many nations you setup for your career, but I wasn't overly annoyed by the title's performance.
Football Manager on the Switch is, thankfully, what you'd expect it would be – a bookish simulation title with sometimes an overwhelming amount of options balanced with joyous moments when your plans come together. I would have liked to see more accommodating options for this Switch version, given there may be people who've never played the series, like tutorials, an exhibition mode to practice on, and a more system-specialized menu system, but by all means don't be afraid to dive in. Glory is there for those who take it.
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A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week
EA Sports Sims The NHL Playoffs Using NHL 18
AO International Tennis Coming on May 8
Check out this features/announcement trailer.