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Review background and structure

First of all, I think it is almost impossible to review a Football Manager (FM) game without considering the series as a whole. It is a game with a steep learning curve, advanced algorithms and usually only minor changes with each new version. But since the game is so advanced, even relatively minor changes can make a huge impact on the playing experience. Therefore, I will do this review by comparing my experiences with FM up to its current version. In the end of the article, I will also talk about its performance on Snoost.

I have been a steady fan of Football Manager since the 2010 version. According to my Steam account, my amount of hours invested steadily grew from 150+ in the FM2012 edition to 400+ in the FM2015 edition. But in FM2016, something happened. I only have 19 hours registered for FM2016, which obviously, from a mathematical perspective, is out of sync. I am, however, back on 200+ hours on FM2017.

However, I believe I know why the game first took my in-game hours soaring before the ultimate downfall. As I mentioned before, even minor changes can alter the experience of a complicated game.

Minor changes with huge impact

I believe the reason my game time increased from 150+ hours to 400+ hours was because I felt the minor changes that were implemented were, despite being small, vastly game improving.

When playing Football Manager what I cherish building up new squad of young players. Finding the right scouts, setting up scouting locations, signing new talent generated by the game and watching them grow is by far my favorite aspect of the game.

This is where FM2012 to FM2015 did it completely right. They introduced a better training system both in terms of coaches and players, they introduced new tactical aspects such as more individual players instructions and more player roles. All this fit perfectly into the way I like to play the game.

But the good done by previous FM's was ruined by FM2016 due to mainly two factors.

First of all, they dumbed down training. They removed the possiblity to have a specific player focus on top of general training. You could now only train the general role or a specific stat. I have no idea why they implemented this besides making training more simple. It's not unrealistic that a real life footballer trains to specifically improve his free kicks or heading on top of whatever position they play on the field.

Secondly, they introduced a new scouting system I was initally very excited about. They introduced more uncertanity to scout's reports on potential abilities in order to more accurately reflect real life. In previous FM's, you were almost guarenteed that a 5 star potential player had the algorithmitcal/game coded capability to become one of the best on your team as long as you developed him correctly. However, that obviously made scouting less realistic, since countless examples in real life show people exceed- or fail to live up to expectations.

But FM2016 failed on their good intentions since they made the scouting too uncertain. Even with 20/20 stats scouts they could still not determine whether a youngster would become a 2 star or 5 star player. That neither realistic nor fun. My main way of determining a player's value came from considering the asking price of his club. If they wanted a lot of money, he was probably good. If you could get him cheaply, he was probably a two star player. I also tested this by using the game's editor. And even 200/200 potential players could be scouted to be between 2 and 5 stars even if scouted as much as possible. While there may have been doubt about how good a 15 year old Messi was actually going to be, I don't think the world's top scouts said “Well, for him its either Barcelona or the Slovenian first division”.

FM2016 thus managed to ruin exactly what I loved most about the game, which had steadily been improved by the previous versions of FM:

New content and changes in FM2017

So how does this compare to FM2017? Well, as you have no doubt seen, my four star review of FM 2017 is obviously better than how I would review FM2016. This is because FM2017 reverted a lot of the changes made by FM2016.

On top of my mind, what FM2017 did is correct a few of the catastrophes from FM2016. It reintroduced the option to make specific player training focus in addition to the player's general training. It also made the scouting system a bit less obscure, with projected star values actually being relatively representative but still with some unsurity – which is the way it realistically should be. It improved a bit of the interface on the squad screen, made it easier to sub players and general annoyances like that from FM2016. They brushed up the new UI introduced by 2016 to feel more natural.

However, FM2017 itself only included very little relevant content to me. Face scanning tech for your manager avatar. Honestly, I could not care less about face scannings to make my avatar look like me. A social media aspect to the news screen. A social media screen with hashtags and what not to look like a Twitter feed, While this actually might be very representative for a lot of players, I rarely use Twitter, so for me it only disturbs my screen. One thing they did get right, however, is that the media comments usually both shows “Dreadful performance from the team tonight” and “We were unlucky, we were definitely the best team on the pitch” if you've suffered a defeat. Promisingly, they did also add two new new roles to the game. The sports scientist and data analyst. However, these roles are never explained in game and, as far as I have figured out, have no stat requirements for their roles unlike any other staff member in the game. That is just lazy and poorly implemented by a game that boasts itself on having some of the most advanced algorithms in the gaming industry.

Summed up / Too long didn't read

FM2017 feels to me like the way FM2016 actually should have been. Or only a patch to the 2016 edition with a few minor inclusions of relatively useless content. The development from the 2012 edition the 2015 brought major overhauls to the training system and tactical aspect by introducing more options, thus making the game more complicated.

FM2016 dumbed the game down (especially the training system) and made the scouting system more obscure, which to me was a catastrophe in terms of the things I like about the game. FM2017 has reverted some of the worst changes, which is good, but it hardly has anything to contribute to the series on its own.

Overall, FM2017 is a decent installation to the series and is very playable, but it should have been much better than to just making up for the hickup that FM2016 was. Still, FM2017 puts the series back on track and is recommendable, and it gives me renewed hope for FM2018 as well.

Cloud Gaming and FM2017

FM actually demands a lot on the CPU in order to run smoothly and without long loading times, and the GPU is surpisingly affected by the games mediocre 3D animations during matches.

After my stationary PC decided it was time to shut down forever, I was very annoyed by FM2017 because it loads immensely slow on my current, old, Acer PC. Even playing with only a small league and small player database makes the game load forever between clicking space, and thus a season takes frustratingly long.

I must say that the game is perfect for Snoost. The in-game loading is incredibly fast even with huge databases and depite the fact that my internet is not completely stable it does not interfere with my experience with the game. When my internet runs a bit slow, I sometimes experience a microscopic delay on my clicks or commands, but it's barely noticable and doesn't really matter in a game like this. Neither do I personally need a Full HD plan to enjoy the game, since the graphics are not a driving force behind the game's gameplay.

On a sidenote I have also played Civilization 6 and could say the same about that game. Snoost reduces the annoying loading time in between Civilization's turns and it is not a game where you feel annoyed by an occasional microscopic delay or are dependant on graphics for a fun experience.