Reviewing Football Manager 2014
Well, its that time of year once again when our eyes turn to the latest version of Football Manager.
This is the tenth year that Football Manager series has been in existence since its transformation from the halcyon days of Championship Manager.
So, does it live up to its 10 year maturity, aging like a fine wine or does it fail and give up like a 10 year old learning algebra for the first time?
Opening up the BETA version for the first time we notice the plain white skin that seems intent on burning holes into our retinas, is this a ploy to deter FM fans from noticing bugs or errors in the game? Lets press on and see.
Looking around the leagues I have decided to choose the German 3rd tier and start with Regensburg.
They are a recently relegated club with limited financial resources and a weak squad, I do like to go for a challenge in the game and typically I will shun the instant gratification and the unending riches playing as the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City.
No FM Classic for me either, I like the full bodied version of the game, I want it like I take my coffee.
Off we go then, my team is chosen lets look at the interface.
The menu has changed a lot from FM13 so it will take some time figuring out the nuances and updates to it. Not to fret though, its simple to follow for diehard FM fans. Its much more manageable to use than previous versions, colour coded and news items pop up when you need them.
Staff positions are mostly the same with some ambiguous ones added such as “other staff” I am assuming you can add who you want here without restrictions from the Board.
In the EPL and English leagues there are no longer the reserve teams, abandoned in real life in favour of a developmental squad. You can still choose several older players for each reserve team though, much like the Olympic squads.
Several new positions are available for teams now, Enganche, False Nine, Flank Forward Shadow Striker, Limited Full Back, Complete Wing Back, Half Back and Regista.
This will certainly add some new dimensions to the tactics and player selection.
Keep in mind that the “sliders” and classic tactics are no longer available in the game, much to the annoyance of the FM purists who believe that was an integral part of the game for them.
However, upon further inspection the tactics system has been improved so much that its become enjoyable to make and tinker with the tactics. Finding the best roles for your players has never been more fun.
The Transfer system has been revamped with the ability to talk to other managers when your player is out on loan, they can also talk to you. I found that out the hard way when I was playing a loaner out of position, much to the annoyance of Mr Schneider the Stuttgart manager. After a brief chat we are back on good terms and the player is happy.
Overall, its a much better transfer system though, masking real life situations. Although, realistically I don't believe David Beckham would join Regensburg as a coach in real life. Its still the BETA version though and there are always some bugs that need addressing.
On to the match engine, with thousands of changes to the game did we really expect to see any improvements in the engine and the look of the game? Well, there are changes, albeit some subtle ones such as various colours of boots for the players to the fan wearing the wooly hat in the stands. For me, the introduction of the “closer” camera option is my personal favourite. This is where we can see some more of the extras such as arm bands and sweat bands that the players are wearing.
Being one of the seemingly rare FM players that actually plays and watches each and every game in 3D, the more realism that can be introduced into the game the better.
Again, as in FM13 there are menu options to be able to change the video rendering depending on if you have a desktop or a laptop (without video card). For those with lower/medium end laptops use the software mode setting.
For me, the game processes very well, no jerkiness or glitching. The system requirements are much the same as the were for FM13 so it should be no problem for those that are thinking of purchasing the game.
The added “crossplay” this year is also a great idea, with fans being able to buy one copy of the game that works on either their PC, Mac or Linux. The ever popular Cloud save technology has also been introduced for users to save their games to play as they travel, or for future playing.
So, as I sit merrily in second place in the 3rd tier of German football pushing for promotion, I am actually enjoying using my newly made tactic, employing both a Regista and an Enganche for my team.
Overall, I would like to say well done to Miles Jacobson and his team of engineers for making the best version of the Football Manager game to date and we all hope to see you next year for FM15.