Football Manager Mobile 2016 Review
Text sims and mobile devices are a natural fit. In the most recent pairing, Football Manager Mobile 2016, you have a genre that doesn’t rely on graphics and controls; obvious areas of weakness for even the most powerful phone. Text sims don't play in real time -- though they can occupy very real amounts of your time -- making them perfect for commutes and moments of downtime.
Football Manager Mobile 2016, a portable version of the highly regarded football/soccer sim on PC. Coming in a $9, an app price that’s becoming increasingly less absurd, is Football Manager Mobile 2016 worth your time and/or money?
Football Manager Mobile lets you control a team from one of 14 playable nations (you can run up to four nations in a game at once). You have control of the roster, transfers, basic finances and tactical decisions. All of this is done, of course, through a vast array of menus; wise decisions will come as a result of pouring over loads of stats and data.
Between adjusting your roster, you’ll be whisked into game sessions, where the menus dissolve into a top-down look at the pitch. Players, officials, and the ball is represented by a small colored dot. Game highlights are nicely animated (again, just dots) and effectively communicate what’s going. The ball’s animations in particular does a good job of reflecting its speed and trajectory. Despite the low-tech retro feel of the animations, game highlights are fun to watch (though too fast on default speed).
When not looking at the field view, games play out through some basic commentary and statistic displays. Again, while minimalistic, these screens are functional. It’s easy to follow the game’s narrative as it unfolds.
Also functional are the tactical options, which enable you to specify roles and responsibilities for each player. Formations can also be modified, all the way down to positioning individual players. In all, the game provides a lot of options for budding managers, especially when you take in account the limited abilities of the platform.
Football Manager Mobile contains it share of options, although it’s a bit clunky looking. This doesn’t often distract from the ability to do something, but it might take you a while to get used to where things are. In other words, I didn’t find it as intuitive as some other mobile games -- which is too bad, since navigating menus and screens is a core part of the genre.
One nice touch is the newsfeed, which compiles all of the important information in one place -- including links to any mentioned players’ info pages. These hotlinks make it easy to find data on whatever player or team is mentioned.
Menus themselves are less impressive. They are colorful and easy to read, but don’t always take you to where you want to go. Your team info is buried a few buttons deep, while league information -- not necessarily your league -- is front and center. These menus quibbles are rather minor, and after some time you’ll be navigating with some efficiency.
Elsewhere, the game looks polished, if not quite as slick as a big budget mobile or PC games. Some players have nice crisp pictures, while many are simply silhouettes. Some official logos help make things feel, well, official.
Like many text sims, Football Manager Mobile 2016 will appeal to a small crowd; namely those already interested in soccer management. You can play through a career, take over an existing team, or create your own team--so there are various ways to experience the game’s depth.
For newcomers, an assistant coach helps guide you in what to do next (an onscreen tutorial helps as well). That said, if you are totally unfamiliar with the operations of a football team, you will most likely feel lost and overwhelmed.
A bevy of add-ons provide more options, though I didn’t try them. An additional $9 purchase adds an "in-game editor". Still, the “vanilla” version contains enough depth and options to keep you going for a long time.
As a mobile text sim, Football Manager Mobile 2016 does a lot well, and justifies it's slightly higher price. My issues with the menus aren’t insurmountable, and there are enough options to customize a game to your liking. Sure, it’s not as big or deep as its PC brethren, but it will certainly kill time with the best mobile games out there--as long as you are already interested in the subject matter.
One final caveat: a few fan reviews indicate that this version hasn't changed much from 2015, other than a few improvements and a roster update.