GAME REVIEW - FOOTBALL MANAGER 2016
by Andrew Doulton - 16th January
My History with the Game.
I will be the first to admit I have spent a large section of my life playing the various instalments of the Football Manager series and previous to that Championship manager. I remember at the age of just 12 sitting down with great excitement to play the first ever version of the game, which was then called Championship Manager, which was a revelation well beyond its years. It was however the following year when the Championship Manager Italia addition was launched that I have the fondest memories. There was something very different about being able to play a game during the classic years of the Serie A.
I continued to play championship manager right up until just after the Sport Interactive and Eidos split. I started playing both of the games for a short while, but I ended up continuing with just Football Manager who in my opinion had really managed to release a vastly improved game. Now I will be honest and say there was a period of the games history where I did not purchase the title but since 2009 I have been hooked again.
Based on the history I have on Steam and looking back at my school and college days, I believe I will have played this game and its previous title for over a year of my life! Although I took a little bit of time to reflect on this rather outrageous amount of my life that had been consumed by this very addictive game, I am still playing it and following this review I will bring you a season long view of this years addition.
My biggest issue with last year’s version of the game was that with Arsenal I would be 3 seasons in and be unstoppable in all competitions. This was mainly achieved by buying the best young players possible before any of the other teams could make an offer. This is great when you are playing the game but it can make things a little boring, as it is not realistic. With my review of the game using Everton, I hope to see changes that are more realistic with real life football.
I was surprised the moment I first loaded up the game at quite how fast it loaded, so I thought I would time how long the load took. I ended up loading 27 leagues from 10 different countries with a large database on both FM2015 and 2016. So I timed the loading of the FM2015 with exactly the same amount of leagues and it took 5minuts and 25seconds. I then loaded FM2016 and was surprise to see the game loaded in 3minutes and 11seconds. I have looked for reason and admittedly on the large database there are approximately 4500 less players but considering the database was 65000 I am not sure that is the reason. Whilst growing up I remember my old PCs would gradually be incapable of trying to play the next yearly instalment. Even over the past few years’ changes are continuing to be made but the game is loaded quicker, this is obviously a big bonus to fans of the game.
The first thing I noticed is that the colours are so much sharper on 2016 and the screen looked so much clearer. After a comparison between the two games I discovered that the teams colours now surround the menus on the page, but they have also removed allot of the boarders that surround many of the boxes providing a much classier finish. By removing the boarders from each of the data boxes on the screen and shading the screen darker the visual experience is now much better. This work has also allowed what appears to be an increase in text size without compromising the amount of information on the screen.
I have had a look through the main menu screens and have found the following
The Home Screen
The home page has been improved on the previous version by adding player details that show the top stats and board confidence, I was having to use the menus for this info on FM2015. This has been achieved by the removal of the Transfer section, which is only really beneficial during the windows and the inbox overview, which in my opinion was of no benefit.
Now at a first glance there did not appear to be much of a change to the inbox screen, however I then noticed the addition of two menu options at the top of the page which were Leagues in Focus and Around the world. Now on previous version I would generally search through the other leagues to see how the other big clubs were performing so this is a big plus. As for the around the world option, this shows international detail which again I used to have to search around for when an international job comes up so this could also be advantageous.
There a couple of changes on the home screen and most notably for me are the way that the darker shading on the background and the slight increase in font size really makes the screen clearer.
The other change that is visible is the addition of some new tabs within the squad depth. By adding them to the menu it cuts down on using the menu on the next page.
U21s and U18s Screen
There are a few additions to tactics menu option that allow you to view the smaller elements such as throw-ins, free kicks and corners. There have also been new additions to the report menu so that you can break further down into the reports. I think the main addition to these squads is the menu option for Staff, which shows a coaching team overview displaying various useful stats. There is also a Medical team overview, which give a similar break down. There is now also an option to get advice from the coaching staff, which seems like a good feature.
I could not see much in the way of changes visually on the tactics screen. The main change was the removal of the football shirts and replacement of coloured squares, which I have to be honest I was not sure about the first time I looked at it. However I soon noticed why this had changed, as it is now allot simpler to change aspects of that position on the pitch in just a smaller hover box.
The Staff Screen
The first thing you notice when you load the staff screen is the very good visual displays that were present on the u21s and U18s relating to coaches and medical overviews. In addition to these views there is also a scouting and transfer team screen which looks good, and I am sure its use will be come clearer as I play the game.
The main change that I can see on Training Screen is the layout as on 2015 the boxes were different sizes. On the 2016 version they have managed to make the screen much cleaner by lining up all of the boxes, which makes it easier to read.
There are a few changes to the finance menu options, which add further detail to the football manager experience. There are two new menus that have been added that show a simplified version of the debts/loans and also the Sponsors and Others. In addition the two different screens related to wages have been incorporated in to one, which seems to make sense. The use of pie charts should make it easier for young fans to understand the finances easier.
This is the most improved of all screens for me. They have managed to use up free space that was used up by boxes and boarders and displayed allot of useful information that was previously contained within drop down menus. A part that I really like is the break down of the player roles and duty, which makes it really easy to see how to best use your players. Another very good feature is the coach summary at the top of the page, which give a brief overview of the pros and cons of the players.
I have to be honest as soon as I realise I have left the sound on for Football Manager I nearly always hit the mute button as it seems pointless. I am not saying the game needs commentary as I believe with the amount player names and scenarios it could well be near impossible. There is however one thing that could be improved on, and that is the noise the crowd makes during the game. For example on the Everton Career I am reviewing you get the standard crowd noise throughout and then a raise of noise for a chance or some booing or whistling from the home team. I think a big improvement would be to have some sort of recognizable cheering from the teams supporters. Now I know most of things are copyright now days when it comes to football games, but surely something can be done to improve the match day sound by incorporating local chants.
As always with football manager you will never see as many leagues and players on a football game. The most notable license issue relates to club crests for clubs in the Premier League and the Bundersliga. In addition to these restrictions there are also the same regular license issues for the German and Japanese national teams. Although I have done it so far this year there is normally an option of amending the files so that the national teams are corrected.
Match Day Engine
The match day engine for Football manager has improved allot in my opinion. I generally play the match on the key highlights so the new view of player ratings and actions zones on the pitch a big improvement. Also I feel the graphics have been improved slight on last year although it still keeps the classic FM view. I feel that the camera movement with the action has improved on last years game especially on set pieces.
Football Manager Lite
Football manager lite is exactly what it says a light version of the full game. Gone are the clean colours and lines that make FM2016 visually a very nice game to play. These are replaced with more of a spreadsheet feel within the menu options. This obviously speeds the game up and I can see the advantage if you are either all about playing the game at speed or may you processor is struggling slightly. Other features that seem to be missing are some of the interactions that take place on the detailed version of the game, in some ways this is not a bad thing. This may be a good option for young fans playing FM for the first time as this option takes out allot of the more complicated activities. So overall the lite game is ok, but for me I have followed FM through from the begging and I am now used to the more detailed aspects of the game, so I am unlikely to play the lite version of the game.
Football Manager Online
I attempted to join a couple of open online games but I could just not get them working or I was removed by the admin. I will attempt to use this feature with friends in the future, as I am sure it will work better this way. But for now I am not able to write a fare review against the online game.
Create a team
I was not sure what to expect from the create a team mode as you are loading a team in to the game. What surprised me is that you need to write over a team on the game and you then take on that clubs budget, squad size and players if you want to. You are able to edit the name, place, stadium name, players, kits colours, staff, relationship and the style of the club. There are some aspects of the side that you can not change such as the size of the stadium and other details of the club (although the editor could be used). So if you wanted to manage in the Premier league you would need to write over one of the clubs already there. If you wanted to go for a more complete team you could just load the editor and create everything from scratch, I will confess that this is something that I once did in the past.
One thing you can always say about Football Manager is they give you the option to edit pretty much the whole game. I have spent plenty of time in the past scrolling through the editor trying to keep up to date with transfers or just to amend financials at some of the clubs following takeovers.
The Issues I found.
There are probably three things that I have decided call out following a season of playing the game as Everton, that could be improved going forward.
The first problem I encountered within the first week as taking over as Everton. I had interest from both Manchester and Chelsea for Stones, Barkley and Jagielka and as soon as an offer came in for each of the players they would immediately become unhappy. I obviously did not want to sell any of these players so here is how the conversation was played out;
seems very difficult to keep players happy even at a club of Everton’s stature. I feel there may be could be easier options that will make these conversations easier with different outcomes.
My second observation has to be the lack of changes that have been made over the years to the games sound. Now I do not expect commentary as I mentioned before, as there are so many players on the game how would it be achievable even on key highlight mode. What could be improved is the crowd interaction rather than dull cheering and slightly raised clapping when there is a chance created or thwarted. I am sure there are allot of copy write rules when it comes to stadiums themselves but surely it would be possible to include supporters chants even it they were slightly distorted it would still improve the experience. Instead I have grown accustomed to playing FM on mute over the years, which when I think about it does seem strange for a game in 2016.
The final problem was a small one but I thought I should break down in to the detail for at least one. I was looking through the MLS and I noticed that the Canadian teams who participate in the MLS have their nation described as the United States. It may seem a small thing but I am sure if you are fan of Toronto or Vancouver you could be a little unhappy.
Yet again this years installment of Football Manager is a fine game that has yet again improved on its predecessor.
They have improved the whole visual of the game by removing needless outlines and boxes from the previous version. On FM2016 the visuals are allot sharper and the text appears bigger even though there is more data included on some screens.
For all FM fans out there like me you will appreciate how the match engine has improved over the years. I especially like the box between highlights that now shows your player ratings but also the action zones on the pitch.
I would like to see more options when dealing with unhappy players and also changes to the way the crowd act during matches.
If the interaction and the crowds during the match were to be improved this title would be an easy 10/10. However we would highly recommend this year’s version of Football Manager and will score it a very strong 9/10.
Keep following this link for updates on how my career is going with Everton. I am aiming to keep this career running for some time so that I can compare the game to its predecessor.
Thanks for reading I hope you enjoy my FM career.