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Football Manager 2017 Review

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Football Manager 2017, developed by Sports Interactive and published by Sega, is the ultimate football management game. Since 2004, there has been annual releases in the franchise. That’s over a decade of iteration, building systems and refining the gameplay mechanics; but is it actually fun to play?

To be fair, I’m not the biggest football fan, but I have been supporting Leeds United and Everton since 1998. Although not my favorite genre, I do enjoy a good management sim, for example Prison Architect. However, for all the amazing control and deep systems Football Manager 2017 does offer, I couldn’t help but feel as if playing the game was like watching paint dry…

The game is not for casual football fans or even general fans of the management sim genre. Instead, it is only for the most hardcore of football fans who also happen to love looking over statistics in a spreadsheet and reading hundreds of emails a day. Even though I didn’t fit the bill for players who might enjoy the game, I jumped in head first for 16 hours; it was the most mind-numbingly boring gameplay experience I’ve ever had.

Creating my 3d avatar was admittedly enjoyable. I chose a fat, short and balding guy that looks like he has been stress-eating due to the pressures of being a manager of an English Premier League team (Everton).

You have a wide range of options to choose from in character creation, but unfortunately some aspects didn’t work correctly. For example, the first half of the “Height” slider worked perfectly, but when I tried to make the shortest guy possible, I saw minimal difference between average and very short. Be that as it may, I choose to begin the game as the coach of Everton (and a second one with Leeds United).

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The game also offers a range of options while creating your character’s ideal start. Not only can you decide if you want to start the game as unemployed or recently hired, but you can also choose exactly how much responsibilities you would like to have; the AI would handle the rest. I choose to be in almost full control, except for scouting for young players.

The goal for me was of course to win the Premiership, heck, maybe even the FA Cup as well. I had high hopes of becoming a legendary manager and pushing Everton to a double or even a treble. I had to do so by answering emails, looking and a VAST amount of player statistics over and over again and speak to the press and club representatives, handle player transfers and much, much more.

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It felt like work, not a videogame to enjoy. One thing that I do enjoy about the gameplay is choosing my reactions and general attitude in team meetings, transfer meetings and staff meetings. That’s a lot of meetings, but I generally tried to stay as calm as possible in each. In meetings with the media however, I choose to “storm off” when asked a difficult question.

The game gave me a lot of control during the spreadsheet-like gameplay; maybe even a bit too much as the amount things I had to handle became overwhelming. Further, having to read through hundreds of emails and text-based scenarios actually gave me a headache. Never have I had to read that much…and never do I want to again. Even the match-day feature, a 3d simulation of how an actual match plays off, became mind-numbingly boring after the first couple of matches.

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All you do is sit there and watch as the AI plays out the match based on choices you made, the simplest examples being team formation and which players to field. You do have some small amount of choices to make during the match, for example if you want to substitute a player or change the team’s level of aggressiveness. It takes roughly 10 minutes to get through a match even at the highest highlight and match speed, which as it turns out becomes a chore to watch.

When the match is finally over, you are greeted with another massive set of statistics; and of course, several emails and notifications you have to read through carefully and answer. I also feel like something was wrong with the game’s simulation. For example, even with a strong team my players missed five meter passes while worse players on the opposing team took long-range shots at goal to near perfection. Further, it didn’t look like my instructions really made a big impact on the game. I was more of a helpless spectator than the actual manager.

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The first several times I ran the game during Beta and full release, I double checked if my Windows sound was on or if my cat didn’t unplug my headset again. To my disappointment (and relief) my sound was working perfectly, so why didn’t I hear anything in Football Manager 2017?

Because there is a lack of meaningful game audio. There is almost no sound. Even in matches, all you hear is a lowly kicking sound and the referees’ whistle. No music in the menu or even a sound prompt when clicking on a settings option means the game is so quiet; almost like you are at work. Which is exactly what I previously mentioned Football Manager 2017 feels like.

There isn’t much of an excuse for the lack of almost any audio. The graphics are decent. When I say decent, I mean about the same quality as FIFA 2011 or maybe even older. There are some graphical glitches, for example pieces of the stadium flickering in and out on, even with the latest NVIDIA drivers installed. To be fair the 3d match graphics isn’t really what the game is about.

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It is about the management aspects after all and therefore watch a match in 3d could be seen as somewhat of a bonus. There is no visible exit button, which meant I had to Alt+F4 out of the game. Thankfully, doing so did provide me with a prompt to save my progress.

Football Manager 2017, just like all those before it, isn’t for everyone. I’m finding it difficult to recommend it to anyone but the most hardcore football fans. Further, there isn’t really any game-changing additions from the previous title in the franchise. Therefore, the R499 price tag on Steam is simply too high for a game that could have been a player and club details update for Football Manager 2016 or even an older game in the franchise.

A few bugs and glitches coupled with mind-numbingly boring “gameplay” which I can only describe as spreadsheet and email management, makes Football Manager 2017 a game that I cannot recommend.

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Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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