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Game of the Week: Football Manager, realism, and the need to leave some gaps

Pass into space.

Official FM24 screenshot of the in-match engine showing a team scoring a goal in front of a blue-and-white coloured crowd.
Image credit: Sega.

I've been thinking a lot about realism recently - in part because I've been playing an awful lot of Football Manager 2024 (probably a lot more than I really needed to for the review, but keep that between us), and FM is nothing if not an attempt to make very fake looking football feel very real.

It's also a very specific kind of realism, though, a kind we don't always get in games. Or maybe a kind we do get quite often, but don't always value as much, or talk about as much, as the other kind. Typically we think of realism, I've found, in two ways. One is appearances, which is natural for a medium that's as visual as anything, and also utterly infatuated with raw graphical progress: how realistic are Naughty Dog's animations? How close a recreation of downtown Düsseldorf is this, from my bird's eye view in Flight Simulator? How taxing on your graphics card is Geralt of Rivia's hair?

This one's at the front of my mind too because, skipping ahead to next week, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is on its way, with the campaign already live for some. For all its faults - of which the CoD games will always have a few - the faces of this new Modern Warfare trilogy are extraordinarily good. Industry-leading good. Industry-leading faces! Only in video games, and maybe modelling agencies?

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