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Football Manager 2016 Review

by William Schwartz

Addiction. Talk to any fan of Football Manager and you’re more than likely hear about how they’ve been sucked in. They’ve skipped school, university, work, a gathering with friends…everything has been sacrificed to sneak in one more match. You’ll hear tales of their journey to turn Basingstoke into European Champions, or an against all odds FA Cup victory with Torquay. And that’s what Football Manager has always done so well. It possesses this inimitable quality that makes it so hard to put down. Football Manager 2016 is no different, and an array of new modes and a host of improvements ensures that it’ll be just as hard to walk away from as its predecessors.

Football Manager 2016’s Career Mode lacks a single blockbuster feature that really helps it stand out, but there are a ton of incremental improvements. To a Football Manager veteran, it’s the little things that are immediately noticeable. There are more options for almost everything; new ways to talk to your players, board and the press; various interface changes on player profiles; you can even send a foreign signing on an intensive course so that he picks up the local language. The devil is very much in the details, and I’m confident in saying that there’s a lot of nice touches that I’m yet to see.

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In terms of the back of the box features, the biggest is arguably the partnership with Prozone, who provide unparalleled statistical analysis on sport. For you, the player, it provides an even deeper look into your team’s failings (or success). Taking plenty of shots but not managing to score? Check how many are landing on target, or where you’re shooting from, and adjust your tactics. Receiving too many crosses? Adjust your defensive line and close down the man And then there’s possession, or passing statistics – you’ve got an endless amount to study, and, consequently, more help and realism than ever before.

FM 2016’s other major addition to the overall game is a set-piece creator. This does, well, exactly what it says on the tin. You can create and implement strategies from dead ball situations: dictate player positioning and the direction of a free-kick or corner to turn your team into a force to be reckoned with from set-pieces. Of course, the same applies with the defensive aspect, too. Position your players how you want and where you want.

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The Career mode might be without a new killer app, but FM 2016 has two new modes to play around with to help compensate. The first, and best, is the Fantasy Draft Mode. Here, you’ll compete online in either a Knockout Cup of up to 32 players, a league made up of 2-6 teams, or a head-to-head league between you and a friend. You’ll create yourself a brand new club, choose its name, badge and kit, and release it unto the world. But every new team needs players, and it’s signing those players that is at the heart of what Fantasy Draft Mode is all about. Starting with a pre-selected budget of either £20M, £50m or £250M, you and the competing players must populate your squad.

It’s a mode that tests more than just your tactical prowess. How well do you know your players? Can you pick players that adhere to the system that you want to play, as well as play well with each other? Finding that balance between youth and experience, potential and guaranteed quality, all while negotiating within your means and under a strenuous time limit is great fun. It’s a mode that adds even more longevity to a game already brimming with depth, as well as a nice competitive edge.

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Create-a-club is Football Manager 2016’s second new mode, and it too is a heap of fun. You’ll choose a base team to model yours after. As you might expect, you can personalize your team’s name, badge and kits, as well as other miscellaneous info, such as their rivals and their most beloved past players. But the most fun comes from picking your squad.

Want Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the same side? That’s absolutely fine, so long as you’ve got the budget for it. Alternatively, want to challenge yourself with an amalgamation of poor players, or even none at all? You’re more than welcome to. It’s a mode that offers an incredible amount of choice. Set yourself scenario after scenario, challenge after challenge, and shape your experience exactly as you like it; never has a Football Manager game given you so much autonomy.

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In fact, the only real blemish that on the overall experience is the technical issues that plagued my game on more than one occasion. In both the Football Manager 2016 beta and the full game itself, I was privy to a fair share of glitches. The odd crash or technical hitch can be forgiven, but consistently losing progress became incredibly frustrating. Bugs such as being unable to progress through the game, and having to reload as a result, while not the worst problem in the world, certainly hampered the experience somewhat.

The Verdict

Football Manager 2016 is another great addition to an already excellent series. Credit must be given to Sports Interactive who, despite lacking any serious competition in the genre, continue to innovate and iterate. While the Career Mode might lack a killer feature, the litany of little details only serve to heighten the sense of realism, and the all-new Fantasy Draft and Create-a-club Mode will be enjoyed by newcomers and veterans alike.

"loved"
loved

Football Manager 2016

  • Available On: PC, Mac, Linux
  • Published By: Sega
  • Developed By: Sports Interactive
  • Genre: Sports, Simulation
  • US Release Date: November 13th, 2015
  • Reviewed On: PC
  • Quote: "With two new modes and a ton of improvements and additions, Football Manager 2016 is another great entry into an already stellar series."
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The Good

  • Create-a-club & Fantasy Draft are great new additions
  • Incredible attention to detail

The Bad

  • Some bugs
  • Career Mode lacks standout features
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