It doesn’t do anything revolutionary but this sequel presents its compelling gameplay in the cleanest manner yet.
The Football Manager series has always been about data and managing large amounts of it. It’s also a game of experiences, of late-game turn-arounds and seasonal victories that came out of nowhere. Football Manager 17 captures the essence of that fever while streamlining all of its data for easier access. This is one of the easier games in the franchise to get into while also providing a base for many needed improvements.
From the outset, it should be noted that Football Manager 17 is about data. Stats, graphics, heat maps and just reading tons of data are what will fill the many hours of your experience. The graphics manage to be clean and minimal but they’re not going to compete with the likes of FIFA 17 or Pro Evolution Soccer 2017. Not that it should either because the focus is on the stories and the directions you want your players to take.
In Football Manager 2017, you’re in charge of a team and leading it to victory. When facing other teams, you’re presented with heaps of data to help you strategize. This includes what scenarios your opponents score in, which parts of the field they occupy most and so on. The good news is that much of this information is received in your mailbox and easily discernible. No longer will you need to navigate tons of menus in order to find the information you need. Whether it’s encouraging a current player or scouting a particular replacement, the new mailbox system invites you to make decisions that you’d otherwise ignore.
So is it fun? It depends on what you’re after. Some players are interested in the narrative that can be crafted from executing the perfect game plan or optimizing their team to the best of their abilities. The twists and turns tend to create plots of their own, even as the game fails to really tell its own story. There are some new additions this year like the social media feed and the ability to hire coaches and doctors but they’re not expanded on adequately enough. Press conferences still feel kind of dull while player conversations need a real shot in the arm at this point. As a whole though, the actual stats based gameplay and analysis can be a blast for the strategy-minded.
Football Manager 17 will pull you in like none of the previous games with its easy to grasp interface. Though it doesn’t really evolve its core gameplay or revamp any of its more troublesome features, it’s still the best football management simulation out there. Even for strategy fans and analytics hounds, there’s something extremely compelling about making your team succeed against all odds.
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