Review: Football Manager Mobile 201701 Dec 2016 7
Review: Football Manager Mobile 2017
Released 16 Nov 2016
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and an annual release of Football Manager. I have been a slave to the monolithic spreadsheet machine ever since I was able to boot up a PC – poking and prodding at my Manchester United team, spending reckless amounts of money on the likes of Ronaldo and Roberto Baggio, just to start the game over again and buy Gianfranco Zola. It is startling to go back and look at the drab layout of the Championship Manager series and see the transition to the sleek and shiny setup that is Football Manager.
I have found myself moving further away from the mainline series, though, as the sheer level of attrition that goes into the main title – mixed with a lack of time to invest – has caused me to lose interest. Another reason was back in 2010, when Sports Interactive released an iOS port called Football Manager Handheld 2010, a streamlined version that cut off the corners to give a more accessible game to the less ardent football fans out there. Since then, they've continued to release mobile versions of the main game on iOS and Android, and today we're bringing you a review of Football Manager Mobile 2017.
For the uninitiated, Football Manager is a management sim game where you aim to take over a football club of your choice and lead them to glory. Along the way you will go through the trials and tribulations that come with such a job – minus the scrutiny of the media (though that does exist, partially). You will have to rotate your squad to keep harmony amongst the frail egos of your players, deal with injuries, manage your finances, curate tactics for your best set of eleven players, and so on.
The best thing about the mobile series is the time investment/reward. Taking Oxford United from League One to the lofty heights of the Champions League would take a solid six months off your life. Here, if you know what you are doing – and with a fair amount of luck, such a feat could be accomplished by the end of the weekend.
One thing that feels different from last year is the difficulty increase in cultivating quality players. FM2016 made it laughably easy to acquire several teenagers, all with five-star potential during each transfer window for anywhere up to a million pounds. During the fifteen seasons I hammered out, I managed to go through five different squad transformations, as I could sell players as they hit twenty-one with an extra thirty million added to their price tag, while bringing up the new talent. In the three seasons I clocked up in preparation for this review, I struggled to find three genuine world-class outfield-playing teenagers, with a further three being goalkeepers.
To add to this difficulty is the highly scrutinized inclusion of the United Kingdom’s proposal to leave the European Union. The permutations of this differ from one experience to another, and it is fascinating to see some of the scenarios laid out in different articles on the subject. Even better, reading angry tweets from pro-Brexiters who were unaware of the consequences of their vote and have been illuminated via a Football Management sim.
I was faced with art imitating life, as England ditched the EU and Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales deciding to join us for the ride. Now I have to deal with work permits for European players, which can end up being a pain when you wait for the transfer window to open only to have the work permit fall through for a player you intended to sign three months prior. The algorithm for how this works seems wholly random and enjoyment of this will vary from person to person. I personally felt added investment in scouring the world for top-tier players and the satisfaction of acquiring them and the added pressure of trying to find a backup striker when both of mine succumb to injury.
To add to this, Sports Interactive has expanded on the depth of your staff room. By no means is it to the level of the main series, but the three types of staff you can buy: coaches, scouts, physios, are all fleshed out a bit giving you a little more customization around who you want in your club and what specific roles you want.
The 3D engine used in last year’s edition, which felt like an unnecessary gimmick, has been removed for the more traditional ‘circles pretending to be players’ known to the series. Thankfully, it should be added that the game has been stable for the most part, whereas FM2016 was prone to freaking out for no particular reason and crashing. Another removal is interaction with the press, which, quite honestly, added little benefit to the overall experience and is best left for the main series.
The UI is still big and chunky and feels satisfying to navigate around. You could argue that there is little difference to last year’s design, but quite honestly Sports Interactive have nailed the UI to be as smooth an experience as you could possibly get. Perhaps being able to customize the home screen to your own personal interest would be nice, along with scrolling tables in said menu but these are minor suggestions.
A neat feature included this year is the challenge mode. You can choose from a number of different scenarios, whether it is being slotted mid-way into a season battling to stay out of relegation, or attempting to remain undefeated for the rest of the season. They are enjoyable, bite-sized pieces of the overall experience with several locked behind a paywall for a paltry sum.
If you wish to take the experience of the main series to your touchscreen device of choice, Football Manager Touch 2017 is currently available, but be warned, reports have been suggesting that it is prone to crashing and needs a significant amount of work still. If you have the management sim bug, Football Manager Mobile 2017 is most certainly the way to go. It will feel very similar to anyone familiar with the series, but sometimes it is better to not fix what is not broken.