Developed by Creoteam and published by Toplitz, Football Tactics and Glory (FTG) is what happens when Football Manager, Subbuteo and Top Trumps are put into a blender. Initially released in 2015 on other devices, it has now found its way to Xbox. Straight from the off, you can see that it looks like it is a 5-year-old game, but as it has an indie feel to it, you can be a bit forgiving.
There’s a bit of back story thrown in too; you are shown to be a star footballer in your playing years, but are caught with a career-ending tackle that stopped you in your prime. However, the skills, ability and knowledge of the game have seen you progress into trying your luck as a football manager. So, you must take your opportunity with your team and win games to earn experience for your players to improve their ratings. If they don’t make the cut then you can do some wheeling and dealing in the transfer market to buy and sell strategically to improve your team. Even if it means selling a star player to gain the funds, the aim is to improve the club by increasing the stadium size or attracting younger and better talent with paid scouts.
A lot of the elements of this game steer it more to being a football manager simulator but Creoteam have added in elements to make the game more unique. You can simulate the match to save some time, or just watch the match play out if you wish. You can also choose to play the match out and this takes the form as what I can only describe as Subbuteo Top Trumps. By this I mean you and your opponent take turns performing 3 actions per turn with your footballers to try and win the match. The actions could be to pass the ball from midfield to attack, have the attacker dribble past a defender and the 3rd action to take the shot. However, each of those actions could be impeded if the defending team is in a position to react. If a defender was in the way of the pass then a dice roll event is played out, the outcome based on the attackers pass rating going up against the defender’s control rating. The number is randomly generated up to a maximum of the player’s stat. So if the attackers pass rating is 20 then a number of 1-20 is generated. Likewise, if the defender’s control rating is 10 then a number of 1-10 is randomly generated. Obviously, the odds generally lie with the attacker making the pass but as the number is randomly generated so is the outcome. These scenarios are played out all over the pitch. Each battle is with the same 4 stats – accuracy, passing, control and defence – being pitted against each other depending on where you are and the action being taken. The skills in the game can give you an edge by allowing you to have an extra action on your turn, though at the cost of stamina.
This is where the RPG dynamic of the game comes into play. Every time you use your footballer to perform an action they gain experience. Then at the end of the game, the experience is added and the player’s stats improve. They can also learn skills or different footballing positions to make them perform better in the game. But gaining experience and learning skills is a slow process and football is a game driven by results. So considering all the factors including the footballer’s age, how long their contract is and how much they are currently worth, you may want to check the transfer market to see if you can sell this player to bring in someone better. Or if you are feeling more longsighted you can sell your ageing superstar whilst he still has a high value and purchase some younger promising prospects to plan for the future.
FTG boasts quite a full customising aspect to it where you can customise the name and looks of each character in your team, the kit and name of the team as well as being able to customise cups and leagues. If you want to introduce some real player names and close enough likenesses or add in friends names then you can form a more personal touch. FTG also offers a multiplayer feature in which you can play a match or a tournament with friends. It’s nice to have the option but the uptake may be low seeing as all the action relies on luck with a number generator. Obviously, there are tactics and strategies involved too, but I would say this game is best played by yourself against the AI.
Bizarrely, the game offers a very nervous save feature. I say this because the game does autosave, but you will never know when or if it is doing so as there is no obvious visual notification of it happening. You may say well why don’t you manually save it then to be sure? Well, simply because there isn’t a manual save option. Considering the game is about football management, saving the game is a key feature to get right as it is not a game to be consumed in one sitting and it could be very frustrating to lose hours of progress. When you are done for the day you can either just turn it off and hope the autosave is up to date. Or what I had to do is just select the option to go back to the main menu and see if the game has been saved. Unfortunately, I came across a bug that I hope gets patched out where if you leave the game alone for too long, it resets itself to the main menu. Just to make sure it wasn’t my Xbox or my copy I ignored it the first time as I was customising my team and stepped away to have dinner. When I came back I was at the main menu and the team I was customising was lost. I shrugged it off but then when I was mid-match and had to step away again I was once again sent back to the main menu. This time, when I loaded the save it took me back to before the match had started so any progress in the match was lost.
Football, Tatics and Glory is a novel football manager game and sets itself apart from the larger franchises by being more compact and allowing you to be more involved in the game with the turn-based action on the pitch. But with a save facility that needs a red card and the action showing more reliance on luck than strategy, this game may struggle lasting the full 90 minutes.