Well I don't mind saying I cursed SI when I heard about the Steam only route. In fact I swore that I wouldn't buy the game and that I was finished with the FM series for good!
How wrong was I!
When the demo was released I decided to give it a go and install Steam, figuring that if I didn't like the Steam route then I could easily uninstall and forget about playing. I only played one pre-season match in the demo but it was enough to confirm to me that I would be buying the game!
For me this years version is the one that has got me addicted all over again - it's like being back at school where I would skip afternoons/classes just to go and play CM. Since then I have continued to buy/play religiously although probably not on the same time scale due to work and other commitments.....until now!
This years game just seems so much more in depth and polished than before. I've had the game since Friday and am still in pre-season looking to get everything sorted from tactics, training, backroom staff etc. On this years version you actually feel attached to your club, players etc. Also for the past few years of FM I've always downloaded a tactic to use due to not havng enough time to spend on the game but this year I'm developing them myself as I actually feel I owe it to myself (and the game) to be successful. Same with finding new players, I used to always just look at other people recommendations, but now I find myself spending hours scouring lower leagues and abroad to try and find players that will fit into my team and it's tactics.
The new layout of the game takes some getting used to but I think it was badly needed as it's made me 'explore' certain things a lot more. The new tactics screen I think is excellent which makes things simpler but also has a lot more depth to it. As I said I'm now creating all my own tactics and have certain ones for situations such as home/away games and european games etc. The team talks are also a welcome addition - I love being able to use the new tones and also talking specifically to certain ares of the team such as defence etc. For the first time I have to say I feel really in control of my team and individual players. I'm hoping that next year SI will look at introducing something like this for press conferences and they don't seem to have changed at all. You can see in real life when someone like Sir Alex gets irate at a press conference or if he's in a joking mood and something like this would be a great feature and make them a bit less tedious than they are at the moment.
Overall though I'm delighted with the new game and it's certainly reinvigorated my love for FM which I felt was slowly fading as I got older. I have to thank SI for this - although I'm not sure the loved ones in my life will be saying the same thing......