• Football Manager releases latest update – available on PC, Mac and Steam
  • Latest version keeps much loved series ahead of the chasing pack
  • New features include manager avatars and expanded press interaction

Jonny Singer for MailOnline

If you love football, it’s hard not to love Football Manager. 

There is no doubt that in terms of a detailed, immersive, realistic experience of the game, nothing comes close.

The problem is, that’s been the case for years. 

For the best part of two decades Football Manager, and its predecessors, have been representing football gaming better than any alternative out there. 

Football Manager 2016 has struggled to better last year’s version of the game but is still excellent fun to play

Football Manager 2016 is now available to own on PC, Mac and Steam, but mobile version is coming soon

Football Manager 2016 is now available to own on PC, Mac and Steam, but mobile version is coming soon

So when they have to keep producing something new, the challenge of making it different, and better, to last year’s game, is a pretty tough one.

And, I’m afraid, for the first time in a while, it’s a challenge that they have not met this year.

Football Manager 2016 is slick. It has some minor improvements on the 2015 version. And, of course, it has the new updated database. But, basically, it’s the same game with a few unnecessary frills tacked on.

Let’s start with the big new feature – the manager avatars. That’s right, for the first time this year, you can design yourself into the game, a virtual reality you patrolling the touchline. And it’s terrible.

First, there is the process itself. Once you’ve picked one of the seven different outfits you want to wear (the game at this stage feels more like that scene from Miss Congeniality, where they run agents through a dress-up Barbie system, than a football game), there are 53 facial aspects to consider. FIFTY THREE.

I have never before considered the width of my nose sellion, or thought about, on a scale of one to three, how concave my cheeks are. 

I don’t know if my jaw is retracted or jutting. It’s not something I’ve ever given a moment’s attention. And I don’t want to start now.

But nor do I want my representation on the game to look nothing like me. After 30 minutes of trying to create a vague likeness to me, I was left with this picture. It’s not what I look like.

Players can now create an avatar for their manager on the game with 53 facial aspects to choose from
Jonny spent forty minutes trying to find his likeness on the new game with mixed results

Forty minutes of playing around with 53 facial aspects can lead to mixed results

Players will be able to see themselves stalk the touchline as they issue out instructions to their team

Players will be able to see themselves stalk the touchline as they issue out instructions to their team

KEY FEATURES 

Manager on the touchline

Multi-match highlights

Expanded Press Interaction

Fantasy Draft mode

Prozone Match analysis

Football Manager touch – cross-save

Create a Club mode

Set-Piece Creator updates

More realistic injuries

Before, it was fine – there were no pictures of me in the game, unless I added a photo. I was, and am, only there in my imagination, in the virtual reality I have created. This year, however, I have to be there as this imposter, that looks nothing like me.

Then you get into the game and, it turns out, none of that mattered. You barely see the avatar – unless you really look for him during games to gauge your own reactions. 

But then, you know your reactions. They’re yours. All that time spent building, it turns out, was a waste of time.

This shouldn’t be a part of a game that became, and remains, successful on the back of it’s data, not it’s graphics. 

In fact, many of the in-game animations are still so poor it makes you yearn for the all-text commentary, or the 2D pitch of previous editions. 

Creating an avatar of yourself on the latest FM includes choosing between wearing a suit or tracksuit

Creating an avatar of yourself on the latest FM includes choosing between wearing a suit or tracksuit

The gameplay retains its familiar style and camera angle as you watch matches unfold from on high

The gameplay retains its familiar style and camera angle as you watch matches unfold from on high

This is a game franchise that is great in spite of the woeful goalkeeper animations – graphics are its weakest point, and it should not be making them the blockbuster feature of a new edition.

It is a real shame that this is what the makers have chosen to focus on, because there are some nice touches elsewhere amongst the new features. 

The player role suitability wheel makes life much easier when you take over at a new club and haven’t wholly come to terms with your squad. The tactics board is more attractive than ever, and substitution advice is, if not essential, quite useful.

Press-conferences are now more immersive with questions more challening and answers more engaging

Press-conferences are now more immersive with questions more challening and answers more engaging

The new interface, while not radically different, is easier to use than last year, more aesthetically pleasing, and generally a good thing.

The create-your-own team function is entertaining – although not so different to what seasoned players have done before using the data editor – while both Prozone and the new and improved press conferences add to the game, however slightly.

Prozone analysis is now more in-depth than ever

Prozone analysis is now more in-depth than ever

But, basically, this is FM2015 with a really ill-thought-out, botched, facelift. 

If you like Football Manager, you’ll still be able to immerse yourself in this game for days, weeks or months. It’s still miles ahead of any other football game on the market.

But if you have, and enjoy, the 2015 version, you needn’t spend your hard-earned cash on an update that, really, offers very little.

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