If you’ve ever thought you are better than Ricki Herbert, or that Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy isn’t great enough, then Football Manager 2014 is the game for you.
The most successful football management simulator is back for another year and the developers have opted for a host of refinements over a complete overhaul from FM13.
Last year’s offering saw the addition of the ‘classic mode’ which basically streamlined the whole management process and allowed you to concentrate on buying/selling players and setting up the team.
FM14 has decided to concentrate on user interaction and returning the ‘addiction factor’ back to the game.
FM14 sees a sleek new interface and a more refined user interaction that is a drastic improvement over last year’s game. The tactical options have also been heavily refined and setting up your formations and training routines is now a lot clearer to understand and easier to look at.
It seems additional improvements have been made behind the scenes to offer faster online play and the day to day transition is a lot smoother this time around.
A great improvement from a personal point of view is that ridiculous transfer fees for younger players have been removed. I can now buy promising French defender Kurt Zouma for around NZ$15 million, a vast reduction in the $60 odd million his club used to ask for in FM13.
There are also a lot more conversational options to start the game with meaning you can interact with your players, staff and the press without repeating your answers after a week of in game play.
One ‘niggle’ of this for me personally is as soon as you decide which team to manage you present yourself to the players and basically outline your objectives which can either motivate or demoralise the team. So before a ball has been kicked you may already be losing the dressing room - but these are the highs and lows of management I suppose.
Another subtle addition is club philosophies, trademarks of a team that you have to keep in order to succeed. For example if you are Arsenal you will be judged on possession football and entertainment – so even if you win the league, if you have used the long ball too many times you may still find yourself falling victim to the fickle whim of your chairman.
Now for the cons – it pains me to go through them, but they seem to re-appear every year without fail.
Sports Interactive may have got rid of the dreaded sliders in the game and have promoted this as a big tactical improvement and in addition added more player roles but for me control of your team is still sluggish and unresponsive during the match.
The 3D match itself is still lagging behind in terms of simulation in other games and goal keepers still dive on the spot and some player move as if they have one leg longer than the other. For me this sucks the fun out of what made the FM series great so I avoid the 3D engine like the plague and stick with the old classic 2D approach.
I personally do not even blame Sports Interactive for not drastically improving the match engine as there is literally no competition to the franchise and without it there is no need for them to overhaul the 3D engine and bring it to levels gamers would deem acceptable.
Overall it is more of the same from the Football Manager franchise. A new and sleek interface injects some much needed vibrancy into the game and it is definitely not as bad as FM13.
The same bugs exist, especially with the 3D match engine and it now seems as if the developers are ignoring this as they know there is no other viable alternative for gamers.
Fans of the series will continue to love it, but I can’t help but feel as if the truly great editions of FM10 and earlier will not be seen again as some of the added realism detracts from the fun of crafting together a truly great team.
Score: 7 out of 10
What do you think of the new Football Manager 2014? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below