Football Director iOS Review
It’s easy to watch the beautiful game and postulate ‘how it should be down’. But how easy is it for you to manage a team of egos, to balance that talent, forging these elements into a squad of untouchables? Will you be a Saint Pardew or a soon to be ousted King Kenny? Football Director steps to the fore, allowing you to answer such a question yourself, wherever you may be.
Whether it succeeds in doing justice to the experience in an accurate and fun manner is sadly not much of a debate, but things do begin in the most promising of manners.
As a mere football management sim, Football Director initially does many things right. The user-interface (UI) is simple, subtle and effective, plus the font and cell-shaded photo effect is very well-done and really stands out on both iOS platforms. For people new to management games, this is a simple, hope-inspiring and unobtrusive introduction to the experience. Menu layout is inspired, and those familiar with Manage Your Football Club will feel right at home as the game (and database) is the same; the only detail that has changed here is the re-branding of the title taken from the Nintendo DS release of the same name.
Unfortunately, there are a plethora of issues with the game and these rear their head throughout. Squad selection is cumbersome, players numbers are not the same as those in real-life and the numbers confusingly correspond to the position, not squad number. This is irksome especially when your entire team (in my case, Manchester United) is effectively out of position. Formation settings for the team don’t fair much better either; you have a choice of seventeen formations varying from your standard-fare 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 Att. There’s no way to edit or enhance these tactic like Football Manager Handheld readily allows. Diluting the experience in this way is a shame, as taking this element of control away from the player really impacts upon any immersion.
Playing matches is a simple affair; however, the lack of proper tactical options, along with the feeling that any changes you make have no impact on anything of note, further impede your enjoyment of the game. Going 1-0 down against Wolves, I wanted to be able to chastise or say some words of wisdom to my players as their performances were not quite up to par. It turns out all and any communication beyond notifications are not a factor in Football Director. There are nice touches, such as the ‘Home’ screen which is the hub for all information relayed in the game. Due to limited screen space, certain information is omitted to sub-menus (or eradicated completely), though there are little touches such as seeing the reason that one of your players is injured is a result of a nightclub assault.
Such instances are interesting moments of exposition, yet it’s a shame more couldn’t be done with them. It would be great if you could have any form of relationship with your squad and staff; unfortunately, this has been overlooked along with other facets of the managerial experience. During play, I kept getting a notice from the coach informing me “team morale is low, we should spend more time training them as a squad.” Attempting to fix this issue, I adjusted the ‘Team Training’ slider to 100%, but the coach’s advice still came. Much of this game baffles and the lack of options and choices really seem to compound the frustration as the game progresses.
Transfers are conducted with ease. The other negotiating party has their say depending on your bid and inclusive terms, and the simple options allows the process to pass fairly painlessly.
I’d have said the same for contracts until I was notified a youth player was ‘too old’ for the youth term and I needed to offer him a contract. I wasn’t able to view his stats, or any information before choosing to offer him terms. I ended up offering all youth-team players contracts, selling them the moment they hit the first-team squad.
Sound is minimal (which is a good thing). The only effect of note in the menus is the click when you tap a button, and in matches you have the whistle of the referee and some crowd noises. Thankfully, there’s no dodgy sounding background music.
As an aimless way to pass the time when on the train, bus, or in the office, this is a harmless game. But it’s massively devoid of anything that would keep you wanting to play any extended length of time, probably due to the game crashing as happened to me often whilst playing and also due to the lack of any believability in the actual results in the game. In my first season, I bought the likes of Lionel Messe (Messi) and R. Van Persie, yet I couldn’t finish anywhere higher than 10th. As someone who routinely takes teams from the lower divisions to the Champions League on Football Manager, this was more of a frustrating, annoying experience than feeling involved in what was happening.
Football Director is a resoundingly poor example of a football managing experience and I couldn’t recommend it to anyone, even a beginner. What it does, UI aside, it does without attempting to flesh out the experience and there are much better examples out there with the only disparity of a few pounds between them. Sure, it is only an app and a diluted experience of what the desktop computer can provide, but it doesn’t mean it should be any less ambitious for it.