Game - Football Manager 2015

FM2015 cover

Steve Taylor-Bryant has been playing a lot of football to get in training for the new Premiership season...on his PC that is. Here's a reminder of his thoughts on Football Manager 2015 when it came out...

Shall I start by saying I played the Beta Version, or shall I start with my round-up? Well kind of both. The Beta version I have been playing for last two weeks is possibly the biggest change in the game since we played with football stickers and a notepad. I cannot tell you what the difference between the Beta and the general release is but I can tell you without a shadow on my doubt that the changes are huge and every one of them is, quite literally, a game changer. The changes from previous incarnations are immediate. On the familiar looking menu screen I selected Career Game as I always do and, straight away, I am being asked if I'd like to play Basic, or in other words have the entire game explained to me, Advanced, or You are on your own sunshine, or the selection of Experienced, where just the changes since 14 are explained. Being the 30 year veteran of football based management games that I am (Tracksuit Manager rocked) I picked Experienced, just so I could see at a quick glance what had changed since last year.

So what has changed? Well pretty much everything. From the start screen after you’ve selected your name, you now get options for different languages you speak as well as countries you may be related to, which makes new acquisition settling so much easier, and a slide bar to select how much of a tracksuited coach or suited and booted tactician you want to be. All this before you’ve even selected a team. For review purposes I played two games simultaneously, Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and Portsmouth in League 2.  Due to the differences in league structures and wealth, I wanted to see what both ends of the spectrum looked like and they could not have been more polar. The home screen is laid out really well with very few weird dropdown menus like before and everything clean and succinct along the left hand column where you can select everything with ease. The players are a lot more emotional now and those players that are contract rebels in real life cause you problems in the game, leading to so some fantastic player/manager chats. Agents too are even more hardcore than before but this works to a manager’s benefit when it comes to a possible unreachable player. In the game I played as Tottenham manager there is no realistic way the club could attract a player of the stature of Mario Gomez but, as with transfers in the real world, a deal is there to be struck given the opportunity. Whilst any other game would have just stated Gomez is not interested in a move to your club, this time you get the opportunity to talk him into moving via the contract. Yes, this involves high wages and a lot of money in unused substitute fees but sometimes the outlay pays off when you get your club to third in the table and a cup win at the end of the season.

Tactics are always important, but never more so than at the lower end of the league and the changes in the formations, individual training and tactic instructions for the players was of a massive benefit in a club with no money. Also all clubs throughout the world are limited by their scouts’ knowledge when it comes to searching for new players to recruit. At Tottenham this was easy with the ability to hire 14 scouts at Continental level or above, but Portsmouth had only one poor scout so I really had to study the players and try and get the best from what I had. The 3D match software has taken a huge leap forward with players taking more realistic movements, nice touches like during the European matches you find the crowd setting off flares, and all of this after you have received a fantastic virtual tour of the stadium you are about to play in.

There are many more subtle changes, some just to aesthetically please.  Overall the massive differences are for the better and those things that worked before are still familiar enough. This was evolution in gaming at its peak, not revolution for the sake of it.

Image - Amazon