It’s that time of year again where I go into full football mode. The time when I shut myself away for days with minimal food and water, turn all the lights off and become manager of Alfreton Town FC. Each game brings with it the experience of all the previous games. The guys at SEGA/Sports Interactive have got a pretty good formula going, so why stop now? First impressions are good. There are a handful of new features compared with last years game but the gameplay hasn’t changed at all, if you’ve liked previous FM games then you will like this one.
There are more options when it comes to creating your managerial profile, in truth, there are more options for pretty much everything in the game, you could argue that this is a good thing to allow each player to customise a career that is unlike anyone else’s. But to me this is becoming one of its biggest issues. This leads me to the following questions.
Is it getting too complicated?
I’ve played football manager games my whole life. Whether it was championship manager, total club manager or football manager, I’ve owned them all. But it seems as though every single year there are 10 new big features that weren’t in the last one and all the old features are still prominent and necessary to creating a successful football club. I understand that you could argue about the enhanced level of realism created every year but I would say that all it does is take some of the fun out of it. No longer can you just start the game and get straight into a match as it takes a good 30-60 minutes to get everything set up. You have to do all the starting meetings/interviews, meet staff, meet players, ensure you have the right staff, buy new players, set up team training, set up individual training, create match tactics and so on and so forth. For me, this usually means that by the time I come to play my first game I’ve either got to go and do something else or I’m bored of the soul destroying set up.
You may argue that I’m being harsh and lots of people may enjoy the game getting more and more complicated but it will be a major problem when it comes to attracting new players to the franchise. In most games new players will be able to pick up a controller, play through a tutorial level then be up to speed on how to play it. There is a tutorial feature in FM17, however this will take days to somewhat master. New players won’t stay interested for that long and they’ll buy the game to end up never playing it again.
Is it struggling from lack of competition?
As the saying goes ‘Competition breeds excellence’ and I think this is what is causing the series to plateau. It has completely monopolised the market. There is no other football management game that even gets close to the football manager series. Their main competitor used to be the Championship Manager series but now they stick to just releasing mobile games and not full blown pc games.
The problem with creating games in this genre is that to make it feel realistic you need to use real clubs, players and staff and to do that requires licences. Lots and lots of licences. Each licence costing lots of money. Lots and lots of money. Which means that indie devs or recent start up studios cannot hope to compete with the franchise and its too much of a risk for established studios to spend money to enter a market that is already so heavily monopolised.
For that reason, there is no point in me continuing this review as it comes down to the following: If you want a football management simulator, buy this game. If you don’t want a football management simulator, don’t buy this game. If you want a football management simulator but want don’t want FM17, well then you’re sh*t out of luck.
Reviewed on PC by Danny Pursglove