First things first, I haven’t really played a Football Manager game for more than an hour or two before. I’m not sure why really. I love football, I spend hours every single week watching the English Premier League, the Spanish top flight La Liga and sometimes the massively popular German Bundesliga. But Football Manager just hasn’t appealed to me in the past. I thought it was all just tactics, statistics, man management and lists full of numbers and to be honest it just seemed quite overwhelming at times.
Football Manager has an incredible following, there’s a bestselling book, stage show, documentaries and even some people being offered jobs based on their Football Manager experience. Somehow Sports Interactive manages to tailor to this massive following year on year. I’ve heard of people calling in sick to work because they’ve managed to take Layton Orient to the Champions League and the game has just taken over every part of them or friends lives, cancelling social events to focus on making sure Queen of The South avoid relegation from the Scottish Premier League.
Upon starting a new managerial role you’ll get to choose exactly what type of Manager/coach you wish to be. Decisions about your made up past can change the way and experience you’ll have in your new position. Used to be a professional footballer? That’ll affect your player understanding and ability to motivate players. Of course you’re able to start out at the bottom with absolutely nothing and work your way up earning your badges as you play, if you so wish to.
Most of your time will be spent on the home screen where budding Van Gaal’s will have easy access to every aspect of the manager’s day to day roles. On the left there’s shortcuts to your email inbox, squad lists, schedule, tactics, scouting, transfers and more. Any time there’s an item requiring your attention, a notification will appear next to the relevant section. It’s all set up in a user friendly web browser type interface with a brand new search task bar at the top, though it is possible for the search bar to not find what you’re looking for, but that’s really rather uncommon.
There’s plenty of new features and additions this year with one of the biggest being the significant facelift given to the match view. Apparently, more than 2000 animations have been captured thanks to players from AFC Wimbledon and the use of The Creative Assembly’s mo-cap facility. While, I certainly didn’t notice anywhere near two thousand, the match engine, to me, comes off a little wooden. Players appear to follow set paths, tackles don’t connect most of the time leaving the player just standing, slightly rotating and waiting for the ball to be pinched. It’s certainly not anywhere near the level of FIFA’s engine, but comparing it to that would be seriously unfair.
Scouting has also been given a significant overhaul. Depending on the experience of your scouts, some players stats won’t be viewable until your team has been in the region. You’re also given the option to set how long your scouts watch a player. It’s possible for scouts to evaluate the player for three months and send incredibly in-depth reports back to you after each game, week, or month, as you decide wether to try and snag them during the next transfer window. You can now send out your scouting team out hunting for a player based on the skills that you desire or find replacement for players that are leaving. Remember though, it’s all dependent on the skill level of your scouts. You can send them looking for the next Ronaldo and come up with the next Eric Djemba-Djemba.
If you’ve not got the time to dive into the dizzying world of stats and tactics of the full Football Manager experience, you can now play Football Manager Classic, which retains the full player database but with a extremely streamlined style of play. It’s not as barebones as the mobile or tablet versions, but if you’re new to the series is an excellent place to start by avoiding the bits that can disappear the hours and allowing focus on the vital parts of management.
Football Manager 2015 is the most authentic, challenging and potentially rewarding managerial simulator around. Players have more personality and this year you’re given even greater control over their footballing journey. I found the navigation more user-friendly that any previous shot I had, had with the series. As I mentioned before, Football Manager has always been consider much more than a game, a way of life perhaps, but this year Sports Interactive have once again created a solid product that will no doubt continue to ruin sleep patterns around the world.
Words by Colin Gallacher.
(Version Tested: PC)
+ So much depth
+ Lots of new features
+ Something for every football fan
- Can be difficult for newcomers
*Due to the nature of this game, Colin is still spending time with it. If he has anything more to add in the future then we'll update this review.