Developer: SI Games (Sports Interactive)
Platform: Windows, OS X, Linux (PS Vita and iOS in the future)
Genre: Sports, Simulation, Football
Price: £28.00 – £35.00
A game I always ‘err’ over buying the next in the series for is Football Manager. It is the epitome of my character in a way. I always ‘err’ on the side of caution on new games due to the amount of money and whether there are other games I’d play more of with friends, or for whatever other reason. Yet, I always, ALWAYS, come back to it. I don’t know what it is about FM, but I just always need to play the latest instalment. 2013 I took a bit longer to purchase, but it is now the game with the most logged hours in the series for me thus far. This year however, I decided to get it out the way as soon as possible. I don’t know what it is that makes me ‘err’, but its probably the same thing that makes me think “oh to hell with it, I’ll buy it”.
2014 is such a tidy addition to the Football Manager series. You know that theres never going to be too many major changes to each game in the franchise, but that’s why you come back to the game during a sale.
Form and morale seem to play a bigger role in this game than any of the others. I play as West Ham (I know, who’d play as West Ham?! But I do), and as soon as a striker, which we severely lack, scores a goal, he seems to go on a bit of a streak. Winning streaks and losing streaks also seem to last longer than previously; doesn’t matter the opposition, if your team is playing well, they can beat anyone on the day – 3-0 wins against Norwich and Aston Villa lead to a 2-1 win against Chelsea. Anything can happen when form and morale come into it.
A quite major change has happened in the transfer market operation system. You all know the drill – you low ball a team to buy a player, lets say for 1 million – well now, you’re into contract negotiations. You’ve got a limited amount of weekly wages, which the player is just not happy about – so you go around the system by upping appearance fees and bonuses as well as agent fees and loyalty fees. You might financially cripple the club in years to come, but you got your man! This now eats up the transfer budget. Something that I totally understand – the aim after all is to be as realistic as possible and lead your club to the future, but it spoils the game when you manage to sign a target for 1 million and end up having to pay 1.6 million, for example.
I love the Football Manager franchise for another reason. It’s fun. I love taking lower league teams on a 10 year mission to the top. Cambridge United I did it with first, before other sprees in charge of Fleetwood Town and Chelmsford City in the Skrill South. It’s just what you have to do on Football Manager. The editor function in the last few have added a new part to the game as well, and it’s always fun to give your home town the ultimate youth set up and watch wonder-kid after wonder-kid rise through the ranks and have nearly 200 games played before their 20th birthday (A young SW/DC named Zac Good did just this for me with Chelmsford).
Some strange things can happen too – for example, Football Manager 2012 told me the 2014 World Cup final would be between Spain and Scotland. Just wow Football Manager. Wow. This edition of FM will hopefully not go quite as far as that, but to start the season off, Laurent Koscielny was top scorer for the first 8 games. Worrying!! 6 goals in 8 games from CB Laurent Koscielny just whacks people in the face!!
The best part in FM is being able to see a wonder-kids rise, in my opinion. I always sign quite a few young players each year with the potential to become something; obviously hardly any of them do when you sign actual players for the first team and nobody wants to be a feeder team to Chelmsford City, despite rising to the Premier League.
These games will always bring me back. It’s football, but in a unique style to the FIFA’s and Pro Evolution games, which get a bit samey and can be boring after season upon season, whereas this form of gameplay keeps each season a bit fresher.