Football Manager 2014 Review

How many of us have thought we could do a better job than Arsene Wenger of Arsenal or Alan Pardew of Newcastle United? We all say ‘What he needs to do is……’ when it comes to football manager decisions because as fans….. It’s our right! Well Football Manager 2014 puts us in that exact position for another year, all the wanna be football gaffers around the world have a chance to put their tactics to the test, whether it’s in the Premier League, Bundesliga .2 or the Belgian Pro League –  Just take your pick!

Now if you’re new to the series, the aim to the game is to become the greatest football manager of all time. Fancy that? Of course you do, if you didn’t you wouldn’t be reading this review! In Football Manager 2014 your skills are put to the test in various games modes, if you’re old school then the classic mode may be the one for you, remember Championship Manager from 10 years ago? Well that’s the gist of it. There is an online option to play with friends on the same season, as well as the main centre piece – Full Career Mode.

The choice is immense when it comes to playable clubs, with 51 different nations to choose from including all the FIFA recognised leagues it’s difficult not to love. Now be careful, I would recommend that you only select 4/5 nations at once with a few select leagues that you think you might have some interest in; I had a friend that once selected all nations and leagues as playable, his PC was still trying to load up the game about 2 hours later! An option that I felt was a good addition to the series was the fact you could add and remove leagues in game, so if all the sudden you decided to try your luck in the Dutch league but hadn’t selected it at the start then no problem!

You start of as a rookie manager, fresh of the assembly line and ready to make a name for yourself. Despite the newbie status and reputation you’re able to take control of any club you fancy, literally, Barcelona? Chelsea? No, you fancy the task of getting Crawley Town into the Champions League?, by all means but you’ll be in for hell of a journey, complete with tears, tantrums and trauma but once you finally get them there it will all be worth it.

You may have heard about the labyrinth of stats, players and options that may sound daunting, but as I started a new game I was presented with a helpful window that answered any questions I had. This acts as a tutorial that you can pick and choose from, you won’t be put through the wars with it, but if you’re familiar with the series then you’ll quickly dispose of this window. After all, Crawley Town won’t get themselves into the Champions League – time is of the essence!

I did feel the option for implementing tactics was spot on, there was plenty of choice when it came to formations, player roles and team tempo etc. The traditional ‘mini pitch’ to see your tactics and line up is a welcome stay to the series, and offers instant feedback as to whether the selected player is suitable for the chosen position.

On to the transfer market, I did find it frustrating at times, I suppose in that respect it’s realistic, but mediocre players at times commanded monster transfer fees. Although the occasional bargain could be found, Rummaging through the free transfer list is highly recommended!

The training aspect of the game I found tedious due to lack of clear instruction and purpose, I paid little attention to it and to be honest you don’t really have to pay any, an option to leave all training and match preparation to your assistant was available and it was an option I used on a regular basis. To help you along the way the backroom staff do recommend training programmes for your players in reports in which you can accept or decline, so life is made easy in that respect.

When it came to gameplay other than the matches you’ll be looking at series of text pages with stats, information and player/staff interaction options, but the new 3D engine has made significant progress from Football Manager 2013 with the players having a distinct improvement of movement and motions on the pitch, however next time I would like to see more individuality when it comes to goal celebrations and style of play. Overall the match day experience is good, the 3D visuals are accompanied with crowd noise and the referee’s whistle but this is as far as it goes sound wise. During your other managerial activities i.e. hunting for transfer targets, you’ll be accompanied by nothing other than the sound of your PC, don’t expect FIFA like background tunes!

This truly is a game for the pro’s as there in no traditional difficulty setting, if you have mediocre tactics and players then you will get bashed by the better teams in your league, because of this you will spend a lot of time tinkering your side and looking for players that will take your team to the next level – If you don’t expect a short life within the managerial elite!

Once you’ve started, matches do come thick and fast, especially if your team is playing in a continental competition but if you have a poor start to the season you do think to yourself ‘I’ll start again and get it right this time!’. This sometimes does end up you wanting to start various new games taking on different challenges for example wining the Premier League with Southampton or turning Feyenoord into a European powerhouse. By the way…yes, challenges like this can be done especially if you utilize Football Manager 2014 Game Editor, this can be downloaded from Steam separately. Accessing this means that you can adjust any data in the game like player ages, ability and removing any injuries, as well has significantly boosting your clubs financial power, so cash balance, wage and transfer budget can all be changed – who hasn’t dreamt of that!

Overall the game is very good and is worth parting with your pennies to purchase, but training micromanagement, in game difficulty at times and lack of licensing for some leagues, players and clubs (Cough…German National side…Cough) mean it’s not the perfect game; however for a Football Manager simulation there is none better! Bring on the newly announced Football Manager 2015!!

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@brashgames.co.uk.

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