When it comes to football, as fans, we know best right? What players clubs should buy and sell, what formations and tactics should be used, Sports Interactive gives us the latest instalment of Football Manager and puts our opinions to the test. What are my initial thoughts? Better than ever!
There are a few game modes, Classic makes a return, if you’re a veteran then you remember life before the 3D match engine… well classic is a less in-depth mode with 2D hockey pucks acting as players on match day, not for me to be honest. Also a challenge mode is available, if you’re hard-core and feel like adding handicaps but the core experience is full career mode and that’s where I mainly delved in.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re looking for something ground breaking from the last game – Football Manager 2014 – you won’t find it. One of the main changes when I started up the game was the profile options, when creating a virtual me I was presented with a couple of new options, Tracksuit or Tactical manager? Attribute points are assigned to certain aspects for example man management, adaptability etc. and the number of points were dependant on what qualifications and past footballing experience you have got, naturally I went full on everything, just starting out after all!
After my profile was complete, and I could speak multiple languages and held all the Pro Licences, I chose my team, Southampton. Could I get them into the Champion’s league? was my challenge. The biggest notable change to the game was the user interface for sure, a side menu that would act as my main hub, I wasn’t too sure about it to begin with as the screen seemed ‘cramped’ but I quickly adapted. You need to have a little play around with it to get your bearings, but once you do you’ll find it’s a welcome addition to the series, but personally I feel the old interface didn’t urgently require such an overhaul.
If you are familiar with the series, you’ll know that there isn’t difficulty setting as such; you cannot stick it on amateur and plough through everyone. Basically the only way to have an advantage or have a bit of an easier time is to play as a bigger club with better quality of players, but even then there are no guarantees, your tactics and team selection need to be spot on otherwise you’ll find yourself 3-0 down at home to Stoke in no time! The one other way to give yourself an easier time is the use of the free data editor, this enables you to change player attributes, contracts and more importantly… Club finances, ever wanted a sugar daddy at your club? This can be used and implemented at the start of each game.
I would like to mention the in-game data editor, a DLC; it debuted in last year’s instalment and is available to download via Steam for £3.99. Purists will see this as cheating but if you need a helping hand with extra budget mid-season then this is the answer.
As always when you first load a new game, you are offered a tutorial, and if you are a newbie I recommend you take a look. There is a steep learning curve to master everything, but what I found helpful is that you’re offered advice on bits you’re not sure on rather than putting you through a long tedious mandatory walkthrough. Help with different sections at a time, doing it all at once could become long-winded and overwhelming but it’s not too difficult at all to learn the basics. A lot of the time, anything you’re not sure on for example Training, you can leave to your assistants and coaching team anyway so don’t panic. An option I regularly use.
Whilst playing through the season with my Saints team I did notice an aspect that was more prevalent than past series – player power. After declining an advance from Tottenham Hotspur for star right back Nathaniel Clyne, I was pulled aside by the player and he demanded I accept the next bid from Spurs! So I was left with a choice, I folded and sent him packing! A lot more player interaction overall was more than noticeable, a big improvement from the game.
The 3D match engine has had further improvements but I didn’t find it to be a massive leap forward, what was a welcome addition was real premier league ground with occasional aerial shots of the stadium during matches, definitely added to the experience.
If I can give you one tip, player morale is everything and it is your job as manager to make sure heads don’t drop, as soon as morale is down you’ll find yourself on a losing streak and believe me it’s hard to break. However with high morale you give yourself and your team the best chance a winning, this is where team talks and player interaction become very important. In past instalments your Assistant would normally offer advice on how to handle a specific situation, and this has not changed but more importantly you now have the ability to ask your captain for advice, being in the dressing room he’ll have the best knowledge – use this! Very handy!
Sound wise Football Manager 2015 is a quite experience, with the exception of match day sounds. You’ll more than likely find yourself with the volume off completely to engage in a bit of Sky Sports on the TV in the background for the best sporting experience, not sure whether it would work with FIFA like backing music during non-match gameplay.
I’ve now played through a whole season, finished 4th with Southampton, round of applause anyone? I can safely say I’m as hooked as ever, you will NOT find a better football manager simulator than this on the market. However I’m not without my gripes, guys, still no official German national side! I cannot imagine why it is so difficult to obtain the licensing when they have every other team in the world. Also when it comes to signing players, please do not listen to your assistant when it comes to ‘Realistic Targets’, I’ve signed players that he deemed unrealistic, incompetence on his part? Lastly I find training options to be complicated and tedious; there should be an easier way to implement your philosophies.
I’m very much enjoying Football Manager 2015 and will look to continue playing in spare time, if you are a football fan and are interested in the management side of things then I couldn’t recommend this more. The level of detail is mind-blowing but it’s not perfect however, the lack of the official German national team, premier league club logos and player pictures stop it from being a ten out of ten but this is definitely a strong 9/10.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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