The new Football Manager game is released today. It ruined my GCSE results back in its Championship Manager days, I spent too much time playing it at university, and my Set The Tape output will probably suffer until Christmas.
The highly addictive football management sim, which has blown all competition away over the years, is back with new features. Over the years it has added new gimmicks, modes and features. We have seen the good (3D match graphics, a challenge mode and a fantasy draft), the bad (endless press conferences that are just boring) and the stupid (Brexit being put in to the game with three severity levels despite not knowing how Brexit will affect football). The game has become incredibly detailed; so much so that it now offers a stripped back, more basic version for those who do not have the time nor inclination to hire 13 data analysts for the under 18’s.
So what is new for 2018? Unfortunately nothing to shout about really, although the game is as near perfect as it can be so why reinvent the wheel? The big improvements needed, like the game being fully licensed with the correct club badges, kits and so on, would be welcome but are not possible.
What we do have is improved match graphics and animations meaning that for those of you who like to ‘watch’ the game live (I am a traditionalist and stick to the live text) you will see a better quality, which has, apparently, been achieved using motion capture. Although there is no sign of Andy Serkis playing Wayne Rooney.
Little detail has been revealed about other changes or improvements. SI Games have stated that scouting will be improved and made more true to life, but as long as my scouts stop recommending me Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar I will be happy, and while you can hire data analysts, sports scientists and all manner of background staff on FM17 they will actually have more of an impact in the game rather than a more passive drain on the wage bill like they have now.
Fans will now react differently to loan signings compared to permanent ones. I have yet to meet anyone who reads the social media posts made by the fans or journalists of Football Manager so it does seem a completely cosmetic change and one that will make little difference to peoples’ enjoyment of the game.
Most recently revealed is that players will now be able to come out as gay (virtual players, that is, and not the actual players of the game). This will not be the digital versions of actual players, but the regens – what are essentially the computer-generated new players. This has no bearing on the game itself whatsoever. Gay footballers and why only one top flight player across the globe – LA Galaxy’s Robbie Rodgers – has come out while still playing in the last couple of decades is a hot topic within sport and much debated. Whether it is a nice touch, an encouraging sign and attempt at breaking down a taboo from within Football Manager, or a political point being made by the game’s creators is not known.
Regardless, the reasons why are unlikely to make much of a difference as this new version of Football Manager is an essential purchase for fans of the series.