It’s that time of year again. Time to press the suit for FA Cup Final day, host some pre-season press conferences from your bathroom & arrange a technical area around your desk. Football Manager 2016 has been unleashed.
Football Manager has become something of a phenomenon with a massive cult following which is increasing every year, and when we say cult, we do mean absolutely maniacal levels of dedication (including this writer who has put 150+ hours in already!). Once you start, it is literally impossible to drag yourself away from the virtual world of football management.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the presence is relatively simple. You pick a real life team within the world of football. That could be your favourite team, the fallen giant, the lowly minnows or take up one of the many fan-favourite challenges dreamt up by other players. You become the manager of that team. Taking up the most dreaded role in football (apart from being a referee) it is your job to steer your chosen club to success. You make the transfers, you choose your staff, you look after the finances, you pick the tactics and you take the flak if & when it all comes down around you. The difference with Football Manager, unlike FIFA, once you do all this and it comes to game time, that’s where the majority of your control finishes. You can make substitutions, give in-game instructions & make tactical switch-ups but for the most part it is all down to your decisions as a manager.
With the 2016 edition of Football Manager, Miles Jacobsen & Co. have managed to take the franchise to another height with a myriad of improvements on last years model. While on the outside, it may look like the same old FM, the devil really is in the details. There are so many tweaks, changes and tiny new features that we would need an entire book to traverse them.
The match engine has been drastically improved. With FM15, there were many complaints of rogue goalkeepers and other random happenings that for quite a number of managers, this made it unplayable for them. While with any simulation, bugs & glitches happen, however many of these have seemingly been eradicated bringing together another layer of realism to the game. The game runs a whole lot smoother & faster than before too, making the sickly amount of hours you will put into the game a less laggy experience depending on your system.
Another major improvement has come in the form of a fix for another major FM15 complaint. Injuries. For those who played the 2015 edition of Football Manager, you’ll have very painful memories of Balanta doing his cruciate ligament in his first game or Aguero and those awfully dodgy hamstrings missing most of the season when he should have banged in 30+ goals. While there are still probably more injuries in comparison to some of the older editions, they have become much more realistic in nature. You will also find with minor injuries, the player may well be perfectly able to play without further risk of injury. Food poisoning, viruses, or even twisted ankles will leave you with making sure you take the player off after 60 mins rather for fitness rather than watching him be stranded on the sidelines for longer. Monitoring your player’s fitness levels & looking after them has become more important than ever.
Football Manager 2016 has also seen a good overhaul of the transfer system. Much like real life, the transfer market is still a cruel and unforgiving place, but it is much easier to traverse this season especially for bigger teams. Aim for a wonder kid and rather than have to fork over £50 million or watch a rival pay £10 million for the same player when you give up, you can now play it a bit more clever. You may still find Anderlecht look for an astronomical fee for Youri Tielemans (they bloody did, cheek!), but by being persistent, you can get him for less than £15 million with a few reasonable add ons & a friendly. A more persistent manager might even be able negotiate a better fee if they are a bit more stubborn in nature!
The tactics screen has also seen a revamp. While it is not the sliders of old, it is a system that is not too far off, allowing you to finely tweak certain areas of your game plan a bit more than previously. A lovely addition also is a clearer indication of when you give an instruction, playing to the flanks for example, it has ruled out the ability to instruct your players to play through the middle. After a bit of tinkering & meddling, you will know exactly what plays contradict the other and those managerial cogs in your head will be turning rapidly plotting success.
Of course, having a good back room team in Football Manager is just as important as a world-class first XI. This has now become easier to assemble. For those who are maybe not so astute with the 1-20 attribute rating system, coaching staff now has a rating system just like players do. Click into the profile of a staff member, and it will highlight which stats are important for each particular role that they are eligible for. Something newcomers to the game will certainly enjoy as they dip their feet in the murky waters of addiction that Football Manager brings.
Football Manager 2016 has certainly nailed it’s intentions to the mast & solidified itself as one of the better games in the franchise that we have been gifted with so far. With the addition of the Fantasy Draft & Create-A-Club modes adding even more playable hours onto the game, you better book a week off work The game that has been proven to cause divorces & break-ups is back with a bang. For those who held out due to the negative feedback FM15 received, don’t hesitate to jump on this years vastly improved model. Newcomers? What the hell are you waiting for?
Football Manager 2016 is available now on PC, Mac & via digital download through Steam & other reputable outlets.