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While it is true that this year’s Football Manager isn’t expecting any star signing (and shining) there’s been adequate augmentation to keep it running.

The setting off of the three-dimensional match engine last year was probably Football Manager’s most significant and apparent innovation. Unfortunately, the engine was still a bit rough around the edges; and overall, there wasn’t many enhancements done to the rest of the game that would have persuaded fans of the series to purchase the then new version. This year is different, however, There’s a marked improvement in that new engine; now sitting at the core of a game that’s a lot stronger than before, gratefully because of other across-the-board enhancements as well.

The game’s hub still remains the same, though and you still start by gaining control of your chosen team at the pre-season outset and going about the managing of you squad through the forthcoming seasons. Of course, you also get the option of watching your team play a training match, which would give you the chance of both handling your players and learning the nuances and match day controls, especially if you’re new to the game. The “assistant manager”, which is actually a bunch of helpful pop-ups, can guide you in handling player interactions; and if you’re feeling a little out of your element, it can even set the formation for you.

There really isn’t anything in the pipeline as big as the new engine, but there are enough enhancements and fine-tuning done in most areas of Football Manager 2010. The most noticeable upgrading is the game’s overview screen, which is a far cry from previous home screens that customarily focused on the mailbox. The new screen bring in together news feeds, league tablets, upcoming fixtures transfer information, in-game mail and even the summary of your current team status. The old mailbox still exists, though but more like a hub for most of your game interaction with players, fans, press and the management. Not much has changed on this angle.

Also much improved are the help and assistant-management systems, being more approachable to new players and much more involved with those who are more familiar with the series and have played before. Supplementary help takes the shape of superior transfer and system for scouting, not so much in the manner of scouting but more on the presentation of individual player reports; which make all information a lot clearer, allowing you to make informed choices over signings.

The 3D match engine which debuted last year is now sporting new coat and paint; which are actually among the more significant changes, giving the game a better appearance and appeal. And although some think that the match engine still looks positively hideous, at least it doesn’t endure any of last year’s snags, minor as they were. Apart from the physical enhancements, augmentations were also done during the game matches, giving you the option to change tactics using the touchline fly and shout specific instructions in the same way that you can also tell players to switch positions through accessible options from the match-day TV.

Unlike before, you can now do these two iterations without the need to keep going back to the main tactic menu. The main menu options are still very much there, of course, and you still need them when you want to make huge substitutions or some extensive tactical modifications; but the touchline interaction add-on absolutely works better, too.

It’s a shame that they haven’t come up with an in-game MP3 player to get your own tunes. Poring over statistics or waiting for screens to load would have been more enjoyable with customizable music. Another thing that can do with some fine tuning is the way crowd effects are carried out – just a little more variation and “synching” the cheers at goals and gasps when you rattle the woodwork; after all, you don’t really need those during an intra-team training game, now do you?

If you’ve been dreaming of managing your own fancy team or been imagining managing a new franchise in the Major League, Football Manager is the closest you can get to it. While the additions this year can hardly be called revolutionary, they have made the game more accessible to newcomers and have added more depth for the veteran players. It is simply a great game for anyone with the slightest interest in football wherever they may be in the world.