Football Manager 2014 (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 07.02.2014 1

Review for Football Manager 2014 on PC

At some point in their lives, everyone thinks they can do better than voice actors, singers, those in movies, and, of course, football managers. It is a matter of life, with our arrogance kicking in, believing ourselves to be superior in many cases to others. Well, with Football Manager 2014 it is possible to put some of that swagger to the test. Step into the shoes of a manager and guide any team to the top of the table…or get fired whilst trying to do so when 'found out.' Welcome to Sports Interactive's latest time killer!

The days of jumping into a quick game of Championship Manager and messing around with tactics, player positions, formations, transfers, and so on, started to fade away fast with the introduction of Football Manager back when SEGA bought Sports Interactive and the old series name rights stuck with the now Square Enix-owned Eidos Interactive. In came more depth to the gameplay, to the point where, even though the loyal followers stood by each new release, certain sectors would soon come away shaking their heads in confusion and frustration about not being able to get things up and running swiftly enough, or even finding that their PCs were not up to the task of dealing with the mammoth databases that span a plethora of countries and leagues from around the globe.

Thankfully, in response to feedback, the UK development outfit brought in a 'Classic' mode for those wanting to continue playing on PCs, and released a superb stripped down iOS edition - like the amazing Football Manager Handheld 2014 Cubed3 reviewed recently. Listening to the fans is an important element that not as many teams as expected do.

Screenshot for Football Manager 2014 on PC

However, do not be fooled into thinking that the 'Classic' mode of Football Manager 2014 is too watered down, though, since there is still the choice of selecting several leagues at once, taking control of training players, man-managing tiny aspects of the club dealings and speaking with the Board to request things like stadium expansions or a transfer budget boost. Unfortunately, though, in that and the fully-fleshed out modes, there seems to be some detachment between the actions of the player and the in-game consequences. Everything starts to feel far too randomised as the seasons go on, be it unlikely transfers, tactics making no difference, player stats belying actual form, and various other elements that sadly detract from the engagement factor.

Another major drawback comes when watching matches using the 3D engine. Whereas when just watching the commentary flit onto the screen, like with the classic games, it is fantastic how the imagination conjures up an image of such a tense, exhilarating match, but it all changes when watching the action played out in full.

Screenshot for Football Manager 2014 on PC

Sadly, what happens is that flaws in the game engine appear, with all manner of odd glitches occurring, along with actions that would make absolutely no sense in real life at all. Hidden behind the flash card commentary the game is sheer perfection for long periods of time, yet changing to the more advance visuals spoils everything SO much to the point of not wanting to play anymore. It may sound crazy, but it is indeed very true. It was not long before the Classic Mode was booted up in favour of the complexity of the default game, and all settings were stripped back to make it look as close to the 1990s/early 2000s versions that won over so many gaming hearts.

As mentioned earlier, though, even then there is not only a lingering feeling of randomness tarring the otherwise enjoyable experience, but also frustration creeping in over time as a result. Playing with a low level striker will often bear better results than some of the 'technically' superior players out there, and yet because the in-game media choose to clearly just look at the player attributes, negative comments will keep popping up despite No Name Striker bagging 40+ in a season, whereas Super Wonder Guy gets a meagre 10 and nary a bad word is said against him. Now, of course, it needs to be remembered that there are form fluctuations in even the best of players in real life, but there are times in Football Manager 2014 when certain aspects simply do not wash too well with football fanatics… and yet it still has a certain addictiveness. Such conflicting opinions!

Screenshot for Football Manager 2014 on PC

Scoring Football Manager 2014 is very difficult then, since it has that amazingly addictive game still within, yet there are so many other aspects added that reduce the fun factor considerably. Unfortunately, when finding that there are times when tactics employed simply do not work, and everything comes down to random 'dice roll' situations, the game starts to grow tiresome very quickly. That feeling of elation when luck falls the other way and a string of narrow victories see numerous trophies fill the once dusty cabinet, though, simply cannot be beaten and is what ultimately saves Football Manager 2014 from the guillotine. There are warning signs that something needs to be done for future revisions, and perhaps one option would be to split the Classic Mode out into a completely separate release, giving those that want a simpler version that runs on any PC without causing it to overheat exactly what they desire.

Screenshot for Football Manager 2014 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Truly a game of two halves. On the one hand it is as close to perfection as is possible in many ways; the team at Sports Interactive shoots and scores once more with this superlative effort. On the other, it is demoralising when using aspects like the 3D engine and paying attention to the statistical side when it seemingly matters not for the most part. With the right balance chosen at the start, though, Football Manager 2014 will be the end of most people's lives, with that addictive 'just one more match' mentality overwhelming even the most staunch gamer. That desire to win everything drives the game, and despite some overly intricate elements that may put more casual fans from the old Championship Manager days off, the heart is still beating strong in this one and will undoubtedly carry on for many years to come. With the iOS edition proving better overall, thanks to its back-to-basics nature, it is wondered if a separate Football Manager Classic edition might be beneficial for older fans.

Developer

Sports Interactive

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sven (guest) 10.02.2014#1

Puzzled that someone would call Football Manager, of all, random. There has never been a management game in which all the data in behind what is still belittled as a "spreadsheet" by some translates to on-pitch action as well. Players with great passing attributes make the top list of passers in a league. Arturo Vidal in FM 2013 in particular got more bookings than many would have liked. Don't listen to your scout who points you out on that Arjen Robben is prone to the odd injury (and will always always cut inside) and it's your fault should you complain about such later. No matter how many glitches there are in the presentation, even watching matches in full is closer to watching an actual match of football than FIFA or PES, bar the animations. Matches ebb and flow rather than play bombing from one box to the other, it is possible to play a patient possession based style as well as a very direct British one and some more in between (always advisable to have to players for each).

If anything is revealed here, it is that despite the new tactics system, people still either have a couple misconceptions about football or cannot translate it all into the game. If I was personally that displeased with the match play, which is after all the core of the game, I wouldn't have rated the game that highly. No matter if you opt to stick to the text commentary, underneath it's running the exact same thing of match simulation. Football Manager's strength has always been that your actions, transfers, tactics, and management were reflected come match day,and this iteration is no really different. This is what truly separated it from the rest. More recently it was FIFA Manager that fell flat on its face. Filtered through a FIFA Action soccer engine, each side would be on all out direct attack for all of the game, regardless of any of your input - which is a good way to both destroy suspension of disbelief right there as well as failing at what makes and breakes a football management game: the sports, and how it is reflective of your (and the AI team's) actions.

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