Football Manager 2015
Developed by Sports interactive
Published by Sega
Reviewed on the PC
The football manager series developed by Sports Interactive has to be one of the greatest set of games I have ever played. If I added up all of the hours I have spent playing the various games over the past twenty years, I would probably question quite what I have done with my life, but I wouldn’t change the amount of time I have spent playing on this hugely addictive and immersive game. After all, where else could I have taken my Lincoln City side from the depths of English football to multiple Champions League titles?
When loading up the game for the first time I was met with the options of playing the ‘full’ version of football manager or the ‘classic’ version. The Classic version is essentially an option for players who do not have as much time to invest in the game, yet still want to play through many seasons, it is effectively a watered down version of the game, with emphasis more on the match day management of your team. As I have already stated I spend far too much time playing this game so this review, is primarily based on the full version of the game.
There is a third option where you can play through some shortened challenges, I tried out one of these, the aim of keeping AFC Wimbledon up with half the season already gone and being well adrift at the bottom of the table. Sadly my time in charge was brief, as I did little to help the side stay up, but I have to say that this is a great feature to freshen the game up with various scenarios available, if the bottom of the football league isn’t to your liking.
The first big addition to the game comes when you are initially setting up your game, where as in the past you would select your details, such as name/age/favourite club, then pick your team, now you have to select what sort of manager you will be. Will you be a manager who specialises in coaching? Tactics? Or maybe a bit from both? This early decision allows you to tailor your style in a way that you just haven’t been able to in the past, the abilities you possess should be linked to the reputation you have selected, so don’t think you can really go into the Conference with a fully rounded set of skills. Like-wise, the game will help tailor you better if you opt for one of the elite clubs.
On my early play through of the game I tried to become a jack of all trades and spread my skills across all of the fields. I learnt that it is perhaps better to be a tactical coach for the larger sides, where you will have far more coaches to work with and smarter players, but a coaching manager at the smaller clubs, where tactics aren’t as important as getting the most out of your limited resources. It is great to see this added as it will allow you to grow as a manger as you work your way up through the leagues enhancing your reputation. I expect that given enough time, you will be able to ditch the tracksuit you wear early on in your career at the foot of the symbolic gaming pyramid, for a suit once you take charge at one of the top jobs.
The interface has had an overhaul and initially it had me longing for the old layout, but as with most things in life, change is generally a good thing, and after a couple of hours I felt it was far better.
All of the core areas of the game were in the side bar down the left hand side; no longer do you look to the top of the screen, meaning that I was only ever one or two clicks away from where I wanted to be. The addition of an internet style search bar at the top of every page was a brilliant change. Initially I thought that I wouldn’t use the function much, but the more time I spent playing the more I realised just how often I would start typing in it to quickly find the next player I wanted my team of scouts to report on.
This brings me to another fairly big change to the game; the scouting section of the game has now been fused with the old player search. This means that whereas in the past you could literally search for any player in the world, you are now tied in by the knowledge of your scouts. The better and more widely spread your scouts are, the more players you will be able to look at. Whilst this may be viewed as harder for smaller sides, I do think it is more realistic: After all, why would a side in the Conference have a detailed list on players in Burkina Faso? This change really means that you will have to spend more time on sending your scouts to various parts of the world if you want to learn about the next wonder kid before anyone else.
The tactics section has also had a nice upgrade. Far more options available and whereas in the past the screen would have sliders to select how you would want your side to play on the pitch, now you have to use instructions. Again, I think this is far better, as I highly doubt Jose Mourinho shows his players a set of sliders before sending them out for a match. The media interactivity has been increased, with odd questions being asked to you in the tunnel on the way out to a match, as well as far more media interest in transfers and rumours of morale in the squad. As with previous versions, if you find any of these areas of the game a little too time consuming, or just boring you can have your assistant manager help out.
The 3D match engine has been updated and it looks far better, with many upgrades being made – ranging from far better weather effects, more detailed stadiums, down to the players kicking the ball in a far more realistic manner. I play the game with the 3D match engine, so I really liked these updates, but many players still play through with just the text commentary; this has also been updated with more variety, so it doesn’t feel like you are reading the same as last year. Of course there are still glitches and problems with the match engine, you see players do very strange things and many games do tend to be very similar when viewing them, but it is an improvement and as with all previous Football Manager games SI work hard to release updates that improve problems promptly.
Overall this is another superb game from Sports Interactive. Each year they manage to keep the game feeling fresh and this is no exception. The addition of tailoring your management style is something that keeps you wondering how we got on without it before. It is another evolution of the greatest football management simulator and if you have enjoyed any of the previous games then you will love this one too.