Demo Version tested.
After many years in the footballing wilderness (FM06 was my last full fat FM game) I decided to come back to give SI's latest a try. I was impressed with FM13 on my Android tablet and successfully resisted the urge to give its bigger brother a go, until now, when reading about the Classic mode I got all nostalgic and decided to give the demo a try.
5 friendly games in and I am struggling to get to grips with a game which is undoubtedly a labour of love from SI to their fans and how lucky they are being treated to such an in depth managerial sim. Unfortunately I seem to be having some issues and in no particular order they are:
Information Overload: Wow if this is the streamlined version then the full version must be a statistical beast indeed! Everything from the home page, news inbox, transfers, squad page, even individual player pages provides reams of tabs, hyper links and information which, to me, seemed overkill. But its been so long since I have been in the virtual management seat no wonder I was shocked. No doubt as the game has improved and matured these are the details that players need to turn their virtual team into virtual champions. I remember CM/FM being daunting to new players all those years ago but they pale in significance to the wealth of info on offer here. A small suggestion would be to not cut all this detail from the classic mode but only have what’s important at the fore front, focusing only on what is required to play and enjoy what the classic game is about, transfers and playing matches. With the rest of the details available behind the scenes this may allow new players to step in and enjoy what the game has to offer without feeling a little lost. Its a difficult balancing act though. Apologies for vagueness, I am no game designer.
Tactics and training: This must be a virtual managers dream, the depth is mind boggling and I really did not know where to start. I checked out the tactics and training forum and it seems there is a lot of theories and guesswork going on in regards to creating that winning tactic. Reading through the styles, philosophies, roles, pairings I became a bit lost and it seems to get the best out of my team I am going to have to do some homework and really get under the hood of the game engine. Its a far cry from giving a player their instructions and pointing an arrow! I have only played 5 games and that is no where near enough to offer suggestions but I have found the tactics a real barrier to get into the game and play it for longer periods.
Match day: Immediately I dispensed with the 3d match engine. I remember getting hours of enjoyment from watching my little dots/players knocking the ball around the park and scoring awesome goals, who would have thought watching dots would be so much fun? Its great to see in FMC14 those little dots are just as impressive, my head filling in the blanks as they twist turn and slide quick, exquisite passes around the pitch... their passing and movement looking more fluid and natural than I remember from FM06 (maybe with some mental imagination thrown in) then a box pops up with a message and as I read it, its gone... then another and another. This brings my attention to the row of tabs (more tabs) and I realise there is a tab that displays the messages and I can make in game snap decisions, I can shout instructions, fiddle with strategy's and styles, no longer noticing the on pitch action I find myself wondering if I should tinker with these and how this might effect my team, so many options, so little time.
Injuries: OK this could be rotten luck, dodgy training (my assistants fault not mine) but I had a number of injuries from training and during the 5 friendlies players kept getting knocks (but should be ok to continue... maybe) only to be greeted with players sidelined in the news room.. then a small reminder that a magic sponge is available to purchase, making me chuckle and reminding me how far games have come since I first played CM97/98. A lesser dev than SI would probably inflate the injury ratio to make those sponges more tantalising but I am pretty sure that with better training and match decisions these injuries would have been avoided.
So what did I discover on my return to the world of virtual management? That I am a dinosaur, I am the Ron Atkinson of virtual football management and I am overwhelmed from the sheer number of changes and in depth options available. The virtual managerial world has continued apace and left oldies like me in the dust. SI have crafted a meticulous and indulgent sim that has no equal which only makes me wonder... what on earth is on offer in the full version that was cut from the classic??
It also makes me a little sad that a game I used to devour every year is now hidden from me underneath so much stuff that at times it almost feels inaccessible. Of course this is likely my problem more than the game. I am the one that fell behind and failed to adapt but lets be honest here, had the game not continued to change and evolve it would have stagnated and that would have been far worse for the game and its fans. So well done to SI for keeping the game fresh and interesting for their army of fans. But all is not lost, at least I have the handheld version to keep me out of trouble and in the virtual, managerial dugout! Perfect for dino's like me!
So the full FM experience is, sadly not for me (even the classic mode is overwhelming) huge thanks to SI for all the great times I had and I hope you continue to crank out awesome games!