Another year passes and with it comes one of the Nintendo Switch’s now mainstay annual releases. After never having a single Football Manager game on a Nintendo system before 2018, it is now a nailed on release. Each year, Sports Interactive manages to add enough new additions and tweaks to make it a worthwhile purchase. Does this version follow suit?
As has been the case since 2018, the Switch gets the ‘Touch’ version of Football Manager, designed for people that do not have the time to fully immerse themselves in everything the game has to offer in the main PC version. It effectively cuts out all the fat and leaves the trimmings. This might seem like a major downgrade (and let’s be honest, it kind of is), but it is for people like me, as I do not have the time to dedicate so many hours to one game, as it would mean I would never get to play anything else. Football Manager 2021 Touch is, by default, the next best thing, then.
Seasons can be completed in a fraction of the time compared to the full PC version. There are still plenty of things to do in-between matches, but a lot of the things present on the PC version are either missing or massively scaled down here, such as the tactics, it’s nowhere near as in depth. In general, it is still as engrossing however and the ability to simply pick up your Switch, make a signing, have a match, and then put the console back to sleep is very convenient indeed and is something you cannot do on PC.
I have been playing a little bit of Football Manager on other platforms recently for comparison, mainly due to having access to them through Games Pass on Xbox and PC. Over on the Xbox, they have a version that is practically identical to the Switch version, albeit with no touch controls, but vastly superior load times. The biggest gripe I have on Xbox is how bad the controls are. The button controls just simply do not work that well (and the same can be said on the Switch when playing solely on TV). Overall, I think the Switch version trumps the Xbox release here, purely because of the controls and ability to play away from your TV screen.
As always, however, it is the full-fat PC version of the game that is undoubtedly the best to go for. It comes with a very large caveat though, if you simply do not have the time to pump into the PC version, then you are not going to get the most out of it, so then Football Manager 2021 Touch is the way to go if you’re one of those people.
The controls on Switch, as alluded to above, are decent, but nothing more. Playing solely with button controls is a major no-no, as they are super clunky. If you mix in both touch controls and button controls, you will find that after a while, you will start to get used to them and feel that it does work half decently. The overall interface has seen some improvements this year, but nothing drastic. If you have not enjoyed the controls or interface in the previous games, you’re not going to here either and I can’t see them radically changing it in the next few years. If Sports Interactive wants to get it perfect, a major redesign is required, but as it is, it is passable.
This year’s version comes with a few new and improved features. Probably the biggest one is the completely revamped match day experience, which allows you to see and do more of the important stuff, without it looking too cluttered. You can now also use ‘Shouts’ during matches in the Touch series for the first time. This is something that PC players have had for years and it allows you to communicate to your players whilst the game is happening.
One of the best aspects about Football Manager, is that when starting a new game, no two saves are ever going to be the same. For starters, there are hundreds upon hundreds of teams to pick, all with different players with different strengths and weaknesses, different goals to fulfil, coping with different budgets to buy and keep hold of players, dealing with injuries to key players. The list goes on and on. It really is an infinite amount of possibilities.
As has been the case in previous years, aside from the normal career mode, you can also partake in pre-set challenges that give you something else to think about. How about a challenge where you take control of a team unbeaten, with 11 games to go, you must win or draw every game until the end of the season. Alternatively, how about one where you are languishing in the relegation zone and need to steer your team to safety?
Of course, certain challenges aren’t particularly difficult if you use an already great team. For example, if you were to use a team like Bayern Munich in the avoid relegation challenge mentioned above, it’s nigh on impossible for you to actually fail because that team is so much better than every other team in their league.
Simply put, if you have limited time and only want to dip your toes in, rather than fully submerging yourself, playing Football Manager 2021 Touch on Nintendo Switch in handheld mode is the best way to experience the game. Aside from the revamped matchday experience, there is not a great deal to differentiate this from Football Manager 2020 Touch.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by SEGA