Published on December 1st, 2015 | by Gary Mullen0
Review: Football Manager 2016
Another season rolls round in the world of Football Manager, the time where the armchair managers take a stab at running a team, albeit in a virtual world. A game which can go from chilled out to stressful in a micro second. The question is what does the new version of this hit game offer us? and is it enough to upgrade to the latest version, or does the game shoot and miss the target?
The game comes bundled with the normal game, the “touch” game (previous known as Football Manager Classic) and a challenge mode (as if the normal game was not a challenge enough). The touch game allows cross saves to keep playing the game on your mobile device if you have Football Manager on it, however, as this comes at the expense of lacking some of the features of the main game, so due to this we are going to focus on the main game as this is where most people will find themselves living for the next few months.
When you launch the game you get the option of playing standard mode where you are a manager of your chosen normal team, or a fantasy mode where you create a team and replace a team in one of the leagues, allowing you to work from the bottom up and build you new team to the glory of world champions. The addition of the mode is a great feature as there’s nothing worse than letting the club you supported all your life down and being relegated in the virtual world, or was that just myself that suffered back to back relegation along with my P45? Both modes allow you to either use real world names or random names, which is very handy as you’ll find you have opinions on players based on real life and not their ability in the game.
So once you’ve chosen the mode, you are then giving the option of how much you want to control and how much of your job you wish to palm off to the assistant under his growing lists of duties, meaning you can be as much or as little involved in the day-to-day running of the team as you want. Say you just want to play the season and focus on the matchday game, then you can set everything from running the youth team to running training to the assistant manager. Initially I set myself up for full control however it became apparent that perhaps I was trying to juggle too many balls, resulting in what I felt was a very slow game. Once I started dropping some of the jobs onto my assistant manager the game flew past at a more enjoyable rate, while still retaining enough tasks to keep me happy and the wide control of what to task him with allows you to get the game experience to meet your needs.
The game engine itself for in-match is rather well done, showing a top down 3D view of the match with anything from just highlights to the full match. This allows you to see where the team are struggling and adapt your tactics to suit that. now I must be honest, I have not played one of this series of games since the introduction of the new game engine a few years ago, but I did at times find the UI to be a tad annoying during the game. When my team is losing and trying to find the screen to manually set my tactics rather than use one that was pre-saved and practiced in training was confusing at times (in hindsight perhaps that was by design as in the real world you would change your team to a tried and practice formation not just “winging it” as you went along).
Many people have complained at the level of injuries in this game, however, after playing 5 seasons back to back of the same team and comparing the injuries my team got in the game to the real life same team for the last 5 years, it was a surprise to see my virtual team on average came out better (apart from one freak injury that lasted over a season due to a set back in the first game back for him, howeve,r this is not beyond the limits of possibilities).
After the match came the press, which after a few matches just got boring and repetitive, so much so that for my own personal amusement I started slagging off every other manager in the league for giggles. Now in the real world this is not something I would do as a manager, so the question is why I decided to do this in the virtual world and I think purely it was due to the nature of the questions. At lower league football you lucky if any newspapers want to talk to you, nevermind half the media, so it seems in the world of Football Manager club status does not play a part into how much interest there is in your club. This was rather a let down for me and after I upset most of the managers in the league I sent the assistant to all future press conferences and this became part of his every growing list of jobs.
You be thinking that my complaints of this game are minor, but I do however have one major issue with this game which came about after my first season, the day after the transfer window opened. Stories emerged of a takeover of the club that I was the manager for, and because of this the game decided I could not sign any players at all (free or paid) until this matter was resolved. The weeks went past, and two days before the transfer window slammed shut the takeover happened and I was free to buy players again, I had at this point missed several players I had been keeping tabs on, and was left getting the scraps of players no one else wanted. After this trouble of signing players I thought surely I would get some slack from the new board of directors, however, despite all the issues the new board of directors set the target as if I had a full summer to get my team sorted and left me struggling to meet the goals set out through no fault of my own.
When bringing in players it’s very easy to compare the actually stats to current players using the compare option, and on top of that you can send a scout to watch a single player and report back to you.This is quite good, as there was some players I was interested in and I sent my scouts who came back with some concerns that was not obvious from the out start such as the player was very injury prone, which made me rethink my plans on signing him.
This leaves me in a weird situation, as I can’t deny that I was not hooked into this game when looking back at the number of hours I’ve played it for. There are just simply many things happening in this game that would not happen in the real world. The amount of press pressure for lower league teams, the blocking of signing players due to takeover plans all took a little away from the game. The engine itself however works really well for the game, withthe movement and control of your team is great in regards to things like telling them to tackle hard on certain players and overall those aspects perhaps do make you see past those others issues mentioned. That and It’s not going to be every year that your club will get taken over, and you can always send the assistant to deal with the press.
Summary: Are you the Jose Mourinho or the Jose Nobody of the virtual football world?