Football Manager 2017 review
As is to be expected at this point, buying Football Manager 2017 represents you essentially taking on a full-time job for no pay, let alone annual leave or other benefits. If you happen to have a job already or be in full-time education, sacrifices are going to have to be made. Managing a football club (digitally, in this case) will creep up and consume you swiftly, and before you know it you’ve chalked up 500 hours of deliciously stress-inducing micro management, contract negotiations and incendiary cup ties.
This is strategy at its best, really, and we don’t use that word to describe Football Manager enough. For all the delight it takes in forcing you to pore over stats, spreadsheets and your email inbox – because, clearly, you don’t do that enough every day as it is – this is a reactive, logical experience much like a more traditional strategy title, real-time or otherwise. Decisions made during down time midweek, during the regular pre-match press conferences (that do, admittedly, become a little tiresome as the season wears on) and mid game will directly impact your success.
Most of the time, that is. We experienced a few odd results in the time we spent with the game – playing as AFC Bournemouth, we went from being hammered in the cup by a lower league side to beating Everton 7-0 at Goodison Park within a week of the first game. Later in the season, we were 5-0 down to West Ham at half time, before changing a couple of tactics and miraculously winning 8-5. Eight goals in one half. Strange things happen in football, but we suspect there’s more scripting going on in Football Manager 2017 than meets the eye.
Still, we’re nitpicking, and this veiled scripting doesn’t rear its head so much as to spoil the experience, and there’s so much of this game that’s completely under player control that it would be harsh to deny the game a modicum of control of its own. In this vein, the game often only throws up seemingly random events to challenge you in the same way that real life would. There’s no way to predict when a player might get injured or Bayern Munich decide to outbid you for your top transfer target.
This is all part of Football Manager’s considerable charm. The standard Career mode is as complex and accomplished as ever – although some of you might worry about the lack of real changes since last year’s outing – and a fairly recent addition, Fantasy Draft, is a superb way to kill a few hours with a friend online, pitting you against each other following a lengthy draft on a set budget. There’s a lot to see and do, and eternity to do it in. Get used to not having time for anything else.