Following my demo play of Football Manager 2009 with Newcastle which resulted in this preview, I have decided to start it all over again following the game’s full release and took over Inter, with only one goal in mind: to win every possible competition in the world. You’ll find out if I managed to do it and how much fun I had playing it by reading our Football Manager 2009 review.

My first big surprise after starting FM2009 came when I noticed that the game moves slower than the demo version – I indeed started the game with a large database and three selected full leagues (English, Italian and Spanish) but still, having in mind that it runs on the same system I play Fallout 3 at maximum graphical levels with no problems, I find the slower pace strange. But it was no deal breaker and I moved forward.

The thing I really could not digest in the demo was the 3D match engine and how the match looked like played in 3D. After downloading the 9.01 patch and installing it, I was happy to find out that things were changed in good and the match looked and felt a bit better. I still see issues with the player movement, some AI problems, especially for the goalkeepers, the same strange ball physics that makes the football jump around like the dudes in the House of Pain video… but things were improved and overall the 3D match day looks better.

Still, I was not able to get myself used with it and I still switched to the classic 2D view which, even though changed a bit, still seems like the best alternative, at least until Sports Interactive sorts out the numerous glitches in the 3D match engine and makes it a bit more eye-catchy.

I was still not able to find the perfect “no worries” tactic even though I was playing with Inter and I had some real quality players – they still have a tendency to love hitting the crossbar from every position and possible angle (my players hit the bar at least twice per match) and they still seem to lack power in attack, even though I play an offensive formation and I did my best to tweak it as good as possible.

However, I did notice a wonderful thing I missed during the preview: in this year’s version of the Foorball Manager game, players’ stats do seem to be reflected in what they do on the pitch. When my goalie got an injury and I had to use my reserve keeper, with a poor aerial ability combined with poor handling and low tendency to punch, things got worse: he was simply unable to do a decent catch of the crosses and he always missed interceptions or decided to go for the ball in the most unfortunate ways. Following the same “skills matter” pattern, if you set your players to hit long shots you’ll see some hilarious shots if they have low ratings, unlike previous versions of the game where everybody seemed to be able to bend it like Beckham. Or Roberto Carlos. Or whatever…

A huge problem noticed in the preview was the Football Manager 2009 came with lots of injuries during the match – nasty, serious ones that made my poor Newcastle team play with the youngsters quite a few games. Things got tweaked a bit and now injuries do not occur that often anymore, but they still happen – I still finished one game with four players injured, but they were all in a dreadful physical condition from the beginning of the game, so this might be the explanation. Otherwise, I never had the feeling that “it’s just too much” regarding the injuries.