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Gaming Review

'Football Manager 2014' review (PC): More addictive than ever

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Released on Thursday, Oct 31 2013

Football Manager 2014

© SEGA

The 3D match engine in action.


Release date: October 31
Platforms available on: PC
Developer: Sports Interactive
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Football management

Football Manager 2014 arrives on the scene amid bold claims from developer Sports Interactive, who have assured fans that this season's instalment is the "most authentic" to date.

Last year's edition raised the bar high, broadening the title's appeal with the introduction of a stripped-down Classic Mode, while sacrificing none of the core game's trademark depth.

The weight of expectation can be a heavy load to bear, but with more than 1,000 improvements on its side, Football Manager 2014 will delight fans with its feature-rich yet accessibly streamlined gameplay.

The News Homepage in Football Manager 2014

© SEGA

The revamped news system



Not all of those new features are visible on the surface, yet additions such as the revamped news system, more sophisticated board interaction, and enhanced user interface are game-changers.

The success of last season's Classic Mode is proof that large sections of the Football Manager fan base favour a more palatable and less time-consuming experience, and Sports Interactive has taken this on board by introducing some shrewd compacting to the main game.

For instance, the overhauled news system allows players to carry out important tasks, such as contract negotiations and match preparation, directly from their inbox.
    With more than 1,000 improvements on its side, Football Manager 2014 will delight fans with its feature-rich yet accessibly streamlined gameplay.
Eliminating the need to navigate away from the news feed to countless other screens essentially means that the weeks, and ultimately the entire season, pass by much quicker.

The life-devouring nature of Football Manager is a frequent complaint from even some of its most avid fans, so reduced time demands prove to be a welcome addition. However, we encountered some drawbacks under the new system.

Big decisions such as contract discussions feel less significant when they are relegated to a mere bulletin in your news feed.

Transfer Deadline Day in Football Manager 2014

© SEGA

Hectic times as transfer deadline day approaches



Being whisked away to a separate screen under the previous system forced players to think carefully about what they are doing, but in Football Manager 2014, it's all too easy to dismiss important alerts while being bombarded by updates.

We'd be here all week if we were to outline of all of Football Manager 2014's new features, so we'll stick with those with the biggest impact. The refined tactics system ranks highly on that list.

Assistant managers seem to get more useful with each instalment of Football Manager, and now their feedback is easier to monitor and take on board during matches.

Past instalments forced players to pause matches or wait until half time to take in some words of wisdom from their deputy, but now they appear as text prompts interspersed among the commentary, with users able to implement them with a single mouse click.

Football Manager 2014

© SEGA

The new team tactics screen.



There's also a little more hand-holding when it comes to tactics, a welcome feature given how sophisticated and overwhelming for newcomers the game can be.

Players are now clearly warned which tactical instructions conflict with another by locking out specific options as the user tweaks their game plan. Many strategies obviously fit with one another poorly, but extra guidance in a game this complex is always welcome.

Other improvements aren't necessarily revolutionary, but add a dash of realism to the mix. For instance, there is a greater level of interactivity during press conferences, allowing players to make their voice heard and transfer elements of their own personality into the game.

This creates a greater opportunity to play mind games with your rival managers via your pre and post-match reactions, which has a minimal amount of impact on the action out there on the pitch, yet aids the level of immersion.

Season Expectations in Football Manager 2014

© SEGA

The chairman lays out his expectations for the season



The matches themselves are more involving due to the improved computer AI. Opposing managers are now more likely to make tactical changes mid-match, forcing players to remain on their toes with deft counterstrokes.

Football Manager's 3D match engine has never been touted as visually impressive, but it is edging closer to being just that with every instalment. This season's gains include weather effects, more dynamic camera angles and smoother animation.

Improvement is certainly noticeable, though this aspect of the game still has a way to go. Sports Interactive's ultimate goal is to deliver a photo-realistic experience on the pitch, while maintaining the series' in-depth simulation elements.


At the rate things are progressing, we will see a good few more instalments pass by before this is achieved.

Football Manager 2014 is as much about removing the restrictions of past instalments as it is about introducing new content, and features such as Linux support and cloud save integration serve to give the user more freedom of choice when it comes to how they play.

The introduction of the Steam Workshop will be a trailblazer for fans who enjoy being active in the Football Manager community. Players are now able to share custom content - from homemade logos to DIY competitions - with greater ease.

New Contract Clauses in Football Manager 2014

© SEGA

There are dozens of new contract clauses to take into account



The Football Manager community has always played a vital role in shaping the series, and Sports Interactive has pulled out all the stops to give it a more prominent role going forward.

Classic Mode makes a comeback for those who prefer a lighter experience. By adding to this mode, the developers ran the risk of compromising the simplicity that made it a success in the first place, but the introduction of transfer deadline day and match plans don't tip the balance too much.

Match plans are geared towards players who desire control over happenings on the pitch, without sitting through entire matches. This effectively addresses one of the biggest gripes with last season's Classic Mode, namely that results often felt beyond the player's control.
    Football Manager 2014 is as much about removing the restrictions of past instalments as it is about introducing new content.
Football Manager 2014 combines the best elements of last year's Classic Mode and core game, merging the faster-paced gameplay of the former with the depth and sophistication of the latter.

Sports Interactive has clearly put a great deal of thought into this season's feature set, building on the right areas to heighten the sense of immersion and realism while applying some sneaky streamlining for increased accessibility.

The result is another definitive simulation of the beautiful game that will enhance the lives of wannabe football managers, and make life bearable when the football season comes to an end in May.

> Digital Spy talks to Miles Jacobson about Football Manager 2014

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