Unlike the name suggests, Football Director is a traditional football management sim and has little to do with the Director of Football role found in a number of European teams. The more straightforward name of “Football Manager” is owned by Sports Interactive, and their recent entrance into the iOS market with Football Manager Handheld has proven to be very successful; which means that Football Director needs to do something special in order to stand out.
Unfortunately in its current state (version 1.1) it’s hard to find a reason other than the lower price tag for you to choose this game over the Football Manager franchise.
Football Director is based entirely around its Career Mode in which you pick a team from a possible 15 international leagues. This includes the top four English leagues, a single Dutch League and two leagues from Scotland, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Due to licensing issues, only the English and Scottish leagues feature the correct team and player names, whilst the other leagues have to make do with close alternatives (e.g. Madrid Whites instead of Real Madrid). There is always the option of using the in-game editor to customize the names to your liking and I guess if you have a few hours to spare, even try to manually insert all of the correct names. Compare this to Football Manager Handheld which includes 36 fully licensed leagues from 12 different countries and offers a short-term and more difficult Challenge Mode alongside its standard Career Mode.
Once you have chosen a league and a questionably named team, you’ll be presented with an interface that is actually very easy to use, even on the smaller screen of an iPhone. You’ll also notice that there is a whole lot of information available from the very start which I imagine may seem a little intimidating for new players, but is very welcome if you’ve had past experience with sports simulators. Football Director even lets you take a look at your club’s finances in some detail although you can’t really do a huge amount to improve the situation other than the management of player transfers and wages.
There’s not a lot of surprises in how you play Football Director and between matches you’ll spend your time managing your squad’s line-up, formation, match tactics and training regimes, as well as keeping an eye on the development of your youth squad. Once you’re ready to play the next game, you can skip forward to the appropriate date with a tap of a button. The match will take a few seconds to load and then you watch a static football blink around a pitch, which indicates a shot on goal, a free-kick, or a foul. It’s very difficult to keep track of what’s going on and unless you pause the game and examine the statistics it’s impossible to tell if your team is actually playing well or not.
To be fair, Football Manager Handheld also has this problem to an extent, but it is lessened by the inclusion of player ratings that change as the match goes on, and this gives you some indication that you may need to adjust your tactics. This is sadly missing from Football Director and is probably one of my biggest complaints with the game. Without these ratings, there is far too much guesswork involved and it can be frustrating to lose a game but not know how to try and improve your team.
In past years I’ve sometimes purposely avoided games like Football Manager because I can easily find myself getting addicted to the gameplay, and yet I found Football Director for the iOS repetitive and a chore to play after the first few matches.
+ Less than half the price of Football Manager Handheld
+ A touch-friendly user interface
- It doesn’t offer anything new to the football management genre
- A lack of licensing for player and team names
- A confusing and uninteresting way of displaying the matches themselves
- Difficult to judge how well individual players are performing during a game
This game doesn’t offer anything new and doesn’t outperform its competition. Avoid it!
Football Director is out now for £2.99/€3.99 from the App Store for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and is apparently launching soon on Blackberry PlayBook, Windows Phone 7 and Android. Soccer Director is out now on the App Store in the USA and Canada for $4.99.
It does seem like a strange time to release a Football Management game as the 2011/2012 season draws to an end, but developers Sports Director Limited promise that a free update for the 2012/2013 season will be available if you choose to purchase the game now.