Football Manager 2014 review - the monopolist remains unchanged
When I got this year's edition of Football Manager for review, I was primarily wondering whether the team from SI Games would manage not so much to maintain the level of previous versions, but to avoid the apathy caused by sitting on the throne of football managers for several years. Competition has practically disappeared - this year, the white flag was displayed by Electronic Arts with the FIFA Manager 2014 title, only releasing Legacy Edition, which is actually the previous version of the game with updated lineups - and as you know, nothing motivates you more than your rivals' breath on your back.
Football Manager 2014, however, still presents the same incredibly high level. Once again, the theory of diamond grinding works well - SI Games improves some elements, pampers others, and slightly modifies others, with the same great effect. This year it was decided to mainly make cosmetic changes compared to the previous edition, but all of them are well thought out and are definitely a plus for the game.
What catches the eye when you start playing is a slight facelift of the game's graphic design and all menus. A powerful plus of the series for years, it has been an incredibly well-thought-out and comfortable interface, which has been slightly modernized this year , slightly referring to the recently popular flat design. Of course, not everyone is in favor of such a solution, but in my opinion the current proposals, especially the news screen and subscription to news from around the game world, are the best in the history of the series. All information is provided neatly and clearly, and in addition, it helps to categorize the individual message topics with colors.
Therefore, it is definitely gratifying to see that many more things can be done by using the main inbox that still serves as the club's management center. An example are press conferences before and after meetings or on the occasion of hiring a new player. At the moment, we do not have to go to the special menu of meeting with journalists anymore, everything is done from the news about it. The situation is similar in the case of transfer negotiations - decisions regarding the offer, submitted proposals or basic terms of the contract can be made without having to break through the next windows. A change to a very big plus.
SI Games also decided to slightly improve the tactical screen of our team and, as in the case of the main menu, the main focus here was also the convenience of using a given panel. Currently, most of the most important settings regarding the way our players play (apart from the formation) can be selected without leaving the main tactical tab. The majority of options remained unchanged, but for example, we will issue orders to the team from the same screen where we define the formation, team attitude, etc.
In the case of commands, another great solution has been used - those tactical functions are marked in red, which cannot be used after selecting others. For example, when we decide to play forward and attack the wings, it is impossible to require players to hold the ball by attacking in the middle. This is another modification to a big plus, especially since in the previous installments of the series there was often a problem with the correct selection of instructions on the pitch. It is also worth adding that we are setting the roles and specificity of the game in a specific position for players at the moment. Thanks to the standardization of tactical assumptions, it is much easier to get to know everything.
It is a tradition that every year SI Games tries to introduce some improvements in the screens responsible for training players. It is no different this time, although it seems that the corrections are minimal compared to previous years. The main screen of the team training does not differ much from the previous one , we can still decide on the intensity of exercises, days off before and after the match or conducting activities dedicated to the closest rival. A slight novelty is the fact that when we have several tactics set, which we use during meetings, tactical training results in grinding the foundations of each of them, not just the currently selected one. Interestingly, the training itself also introduced mechanisms that allow you to manage exercises from the main tab. The current screen allows you to select classes before the next meeting, showing the level of condition of our team, players' satisfaction with the training or the progress of individual players using clear graphs.
The gameplay itself and the character of the team, apart from the novelties mentioned above, have not been modified. On the one hand, this is a big plus, because the almost perfect mechanism of the previous parts does not need to be improved, on the other, a small amount of innovations in Football Manager 2014 may expose SI Games to the accusation of resting on its laurels. It seems that neither the new scenarios for the hugely popular challenge mode, which have been added a few, nor the improvements in FM Classic will change that. The model of fun introduced last year referring to the older versions (without all functions, but with faster gameplay) has been slightly improved. It is nice that the creators listen to the community and have added to FMC e.g. mechanisms responsible for the last hours of the transfer window. Ultimately, however, there is little news here.