Football Manager 2015 (PC) Review
- As great a footie simulator as it ever was
- Life suckinginly deep gameplay
Not so much?
- Needs to bring something fresh to the series as it's becoming stale.
- Feels like, more than ever, just a roster and stats update
Another season of football, and of course that means another year FIFAs, Pro Evolution Soccer’s and of course Football Manager. Football Manager 2015 has been out for a number of months now and in reviewing this game you need to really experience an entire season as well as all its new features. Having played Football […]
Another season of football, and of course that means another year FIFAs, Pro Evolution Soccer’s and of course Football Manager. Football Manager 2015 has been out for a number of months now and in reviewing this game you need to really experience an entire season as well as all its new features. Having played Football Manager since 2009 and racking up almost 2000 hours of game time, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Football Manager 2015.
Football Manager allows football fans to try and emulate some great managers such as Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, it gives you unlimited control over team selection, training, formations and transfers. Football Manager has an extremely large player database put together by scouts all over the world. A database which is now being used by actual clubs to find players for their clubs.
I started my season unemployed looking for my first job, and after months of applying to the teams in the Premiership and being laughed off (teams actually laughed at me applying for their job!) I decided it was time to perhaps try and apply to a lower division team. Up step Tranmere, who gave me my first chance in management. But before you even get your foot in the door the board want to interview you so if you start saying the wrong things then you won’t get the job, this was first introduced in FM2014 which has been expanded upon with more topics to discuss such as past playing experience and your history in previous roles or lack of experience. This adds a sense of realism to the job process. I came in half way through the season and morale was low, we were at the wrong end of the table and not a lot of time left to right the ship. By the end of the season we finished 10th and the following season we were promoted into Sky Bet League 1!
This is the beauty of Football Manager and the reason it has such a loyal fan base, players make a connection to their team and club. You spend hours buying and selling players, tinkering with tactics, setting training and match preparation, scouting players and the list really does go on. And this is why Football Manager has been so popular over the years, but unfortunately it feels as though you are now paying for an updated squad list and a few features thrown in the entice you into parting with your hard earned cash.
Before you even begin your game you are asked to input your own details and to choose what kind of manager you want to be. Do you want to prowl on the touchline with your tracksuit on or are you a suit and tie manager who is more about tactics than passion. This is one of the big new features of FM15 where you can assign attributes to either tracksuit manager attributes such as attacking, defending, fitness or tactical manager attributes such adaptability, determination and player knowledge. You can also decide on which coaching badges you already have or you can acquire them during your career.
Once you are in the game you will notice the “new” side bar for navigation, this is something that SI seem to change on a regular basis. For returning FM fans especially those who played FM10 and the old Championship Manager games before the split, you will notice SI have gone back to the left-hand vertical navigation bar. Why they thought it was a good idea to go back to something they ditched only SI know.
SI have also tried to provide a more user friendly experience to newcomers by increasing the amount of help it gives you through the game with question marks that explain what you see on your screen, although for experienced players it can be really annoying but you can turn it off.
Picking your players and formation have had a few changes, you now have a position/role/duty bar on the left hand side which allows you to set your player roles a lot easier. You can also instantly see if a player is comfortable in his position and role when you select him, and you now have 4 new player roles to choose from:
- Roaming Playmaker – for central and defensive midfielders
- Raumdeter – a ‘wide poacher’ for players who want to operate on the periphery of build up
- Inverted Wing Backs – for defenders who cut inside and make runs through the centre of the pitch
- Wide Playmaker – wingers with the freedom to drift inside and find space to create.
Although opinion has been split on the new match engine, I for one think it has been improved upon since last year. There are over 2000 new/replaced animations, an overhaul to ball physics, improved shots, passes, crosses, headers etc. Also FM15 has an improved match day experience as well as better lighting and stadiums. Although with all of that you might still feel a little disappointed if you compare the match engine with FM14. There have also been improvements made to goalkeepers to make them feel a bit more realistic.
There are of course still some annoying glitches with the match engine for example my goalkeeper decided to stand still for a ball in the air and allowing a striker standing next to him to tap it in, at the last minute of a game which I was drawing 2-2! Although patches have been released since to solve match engine issues.
The biggest improvement has been with the scouting system, which now involves all of your staff, the scouting reports have also been simplified and allows you to make an instant decision on a player. When you now see a player, the attributes will show you a rough estimate of what they believe the players attribute to be, in previous football manager games if the player was well known you wouldn’t have to bother scouting them as all the attribute would be available to see. Now however you will see something like Passing: 10-14, if you want to find exactly what the players passing attribute is you have to continue to scout him, so this might be for 1 or 2 months or for a few matches depending on your scout. Your knowledge base and how big your scouting network determines how many players your club is aware of and how quickly will be able to do a search in the scouting section to find the type of player you want. It’s a nice feature to make use of your scouting network and a good incentive to ask your board to allow you to send more scouts around the world.
You can now shout at your players while on the touchline, I have to say this feature confuses me a little and I have no idea if this is a feature that was well thought out. While you are in the middle of a game you can tell your players to do a number of things from the touchline instructions but you really don’t know if those instructions have actually made any impact on the game. In the two seasons I played I very rarely used the feature as I couldn’t see any immediate benefit in using it.
There are a number of other smaller changes made to the game such as comparing yourself with the history of your predecessors at the clubs, you can also take on 8 different coaching badges and they have even included new generation players (player who are computer generated) will contribute to the Movember campaign and all the profile picture will show with a moustache, which is a nice touch from SI.
Football Manager also has a Classic mode that allows players who don’t have as much time to still enjoy a streamlined version of Football Manager so as not to take up all their time. The classic mode has had some improvements, you can now customise the game database, skip pre-season, take over training, New news screen look, new board requests and new team meetings. They have also added new unlockables where you can pay for things such as putting a player on a permanent contract, un-suspend a player and serve dodgy lasagne where you can make an opponent player unfit before the next game.
I’ve never quite liked this mode and the unlockables just seem like cheating to me. There is also a challenge mode where you can take over certain scenarios such as having all your key players injured and you have to win the league or you have half a season to get out of relegation, as far as I can see there are no improvements to this mode.
Developers SI have a very strong and loyal fan base, one which they interact with and listen to and one I feel they are going to start to lose unless they bring more meaningful changes to future Football Manager Games. There is no denying the Football Manager formula works and it always will but fans are going to start feeling they are only paying for an updated squad list and a few extra features every year. At the time of writing this review I have, according to Steam put in 276 hours into FM15 and I still can’t help but feel disappointed with this year’s Football Manager. Perhaps because of no real competition SI don’t feel as much pressure to provide new exciting features that get every FM fans excited. I for one can’t remember the last time I read about a new Football Manager feature and felt really excited about it. I hope next year there are new features that will excite the fans and breathe new life into the Football Manager series.
Guest Reviewer: Saqib Ahmed