on 5 December 2013
I have spent (or 'wasted') a great deal of my life playing Football Manager or Championship Manager since the mid-90s, but that long run may have now come to an end. Football Manager 2014 is the worst in the history of the franchise and has gone massively backwards since the 2012 version.
As has become traditional, the first few weeks of owning this game are spent waiting for patches to rectify the many obvious bugs that somehow aren't worked out in advance. Does anybody actually test the game before they charge money for it?
The 'improved' match engine is dreadful. Players wander aimlessly in nonsensical directions (your centre forward heading back into midfield as your winger prepares to put in a cross, defenders wandering away from a forward who has the ball); players stand still in acres of space and wait for a defender to come and tackle them; goalkeepers at all levels are absolutely superhuman, unless they are running out of their goal like it was on fire to gift the opposition an open goal; forwards are completely useless, constantly shooting wide from the edge of the area whatever attributes they have or instructions you give them; world class set-piece specialists send the ball drifting over the bar from well positioned free kicks every time; defenders act as though they had been given a briefcase of cash by an illegal betting syndicate. I could go on and on...but the worst thing is that it doesn't look anything like real football, there is none of the dynamism, pace, physicality or intensity that characterises modern football. I appreciate that FM is really a strategy game, but is it too much to ask that the players could move or behave in a way that vaguely represented human beings? Subbuteo footballers are more realistically animated.
The 'more realistic transfers' are a shambles. If you have a good young player valued at £1 million who has played every game, is happy and has a long contract a club will offer £300'000, but if you reject this offer the player then wants a new contract or hands in a transfer request, you tell the club you want £5 million they will reject the offer but come back a week later offering £325'000. This makes managing a smaller team (finding, developing and selling players for a smaller club was one of the enjoyable challenges of other FM games) boring as you have to constantly fend off ridiculous offers, sell players well below value or put up with an unhappy squad all the time. In real life Cardiff City paid £8 million for Andreas Cornelius from FC Copenhagen, in FM 2014 they would have just kept offering £400'000 until the manager got bored of the whole experience. Most infuriatingly of all this doesn't apply the other way around, where half-decent players will invariably cost unrealistic millions.
The game claims '1000 improvements and enhancements' but basically nothing significant has changed for the better, press conferences are just as boring, team talks and training are just as simplistic. Many of the claimed advances go completely unnoticed, such as a 'revamped news system' which looks identical to previous years. Basically what you are paying for here is an updated database from FM 2013 with added bugs and irritations thrown in for variety. Fun for masochists, not for anyone else.
These are just a few examples of the general issues with the game, some of them may seem trivial (and some will no doubt be fixed in subsequent updates) but for a game that's main selling point is realism they are important. Ahead of any future versions of this game I would suggest that Sports Interactive employ a few people who actually have a passing interest in football, or at least have seen a football match before in their lives.
on 4 February 2014
So i dont buy every football manager game. I can play one for 2 or 3 years before i buy an update. So know that the last one i played is 2012. However also know that i'm not terrible at the game. I'm average to good, and always do pretty well after trying different things out.
This one however anyone would think i am absolutely terrible at it. We'll come onto that soon and why that is.
The first things to note are my perceptions of whats new. The 2 main things that are new to me are interviews (nothing special, its obvious what to say and you seem to not get picked on what you say much anyway, more on experience level compared to club you want to manage), and the new tactics system (which is very different).
So at first glance the new tactics system looks impressive. It's much more clear and gives you so much more indication of what everything does to change your game. You want your players to pass shorter, then its one click and they do it. I was concerned that however, its been simplified too much and that it would be too difficult now to actually find the balance of what you want your players to do and it turns out i was right.
When i set up a game a lot of the time i have learnt the best ways to make my team play via team instructions and its 80% the same no matter what team you are playing or formation. In addition there just arent enough options. Like... "pass shorter" seems to completely dissuade any long balls over the top into space even when its the clear move to make, so why anyone would do this i dont know. What i mean by pass shorter is in general to do that but if the clear thing to do is to boot it up into space behind the defence for my striker who can make a good run then dont pass it backwards to my defender. I can deal with this happening on occasion so but it happens EVERY TIME. As a result i learned never to play "pass shorter" ever. This example can be applied to all the team instructions bar a few meaning as i say 80% of these are the same no matter what. So team instructions mean pretty much nothing to making your tactic yours. Much too generic. I'm not saying bring back complicated sliders but this is worse in its current state.
Secondly i have tried so many formations its mad. The way i play is to look at my teams preffered positions and positions their good in and which are my better players and try to form formations complimentary to these situations. Then to fit player roles to them based on team cohesion as well as what theyre best at or what i think might work well. The player roles theme is fantastic btw (if it worked, come onto that later), the best addition to football manager but it was there in 12. There are a few more this time round though such as false 9 and such. I personally dont think i have found a situation to try them though but i doubt that it matters to be honest for reasons ill come to. After trying so many formations i have come to the conclusion that the best thing to play is 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. By which i mean 4-0-4-0-2 and 4-0-5-0-1. No players in the hole ever, no players in attacking midfield positions - EVER! No matter what team you are these formations always work the best. I've tried so hard but i always end up going with these because it wins games more often than anything else i've tried. It just doesnt make sense. It makes no sense at all, that your play is restricted even more following on from team instructions with formation also. So dont even think about getting creative no matter what players you have or anything, stick to those formations, i guarantee you more success.
So now ok you've been restricted heavily to what choice you have about your tactic so surely the match engine delivers? Sadly not. It takes all the player stats, all the tactics you create and does very little with them. The matches are awfully generic and boring with no flare to them at all. Seriously at least half my goals are from set pieces. A more realistic statistic here would be 15-30% dependent on several factors. Its more like 60%. Why is this?
Well, your attackers just dont attack. the tempo is slow no matter what you do and they just dont make the right passes very often to get strikers or someone in a good position on the end of them. When they make the right pass, they do it wrong, by passing to feet when its clearly better for them to run onto it. Yes i get that this should happen sometimes but its so often it hurts and believe me its not my tactic, i have tried all sorts and then even resorted to searching the internet for what others are doing after being exasperated to find the most successful tactic people are using to be - guess what a 4 - 4 - 2 very similar to mine id tried... however due to only having 3 strikers worth playing in my squad and an abundant midfield was using a 4 - 5 - 1 instead... When your attackers do get in good positions they waste it 90% of the time by taking a long shot when they just dont need to and missing.
Long shots miss - 99% of the time no exaggeration. (by the way this is all as the player the AI's stats on everything are better.)
Defenders make the stupidest plays i've ever seen. Mainly one of them decides to trot slowly out to attack their player with the ball with no urgency at all opening up an easy through ball for their striker to score. At least if he's going to do that he needs to have some urgency about his play but id rather he didnt. But now, its impossible to stop this happening. Where as before you could minimise it somewhat now its not possible. You are helpless but to watch it happen time and time again. And they game doesnt even decide the player did anything wrong.
There has always been a problem with the match engine in football manager and that is super keepers. All keepers have the "super keeper attribute".I could understand it in previous itterations where you would have such a good tactic that youd make 50 chances a game and while unrealistic this was much more fun than now, it meant the game had to resrict endless streams of 15-0 scorelines. But now the super keepers are just as prevalent as before except the chances are so few and far between it means your 1/100 where your player doesnt take a long shot gets saves in spectacular fashion. They obviously then noticed the number of goals you are scoring was not enough so they just made keepers make tons of silly mistakes to compensate. If my goals arent from set pieces then theyre often from their goalie doing something really stupid. However the game blames the defender much more often than it should...
So your match engine sucks. On the contrary the opposition seems to play nicely no matter who you're playing and will often open you up and score. It makes it the most difficult version yet. I'm all for difficulty and realism but it just isnt there. The AI is too good for your limited tactics and the engine just punishes the player ridiculously. The games are also really dull to watch because of the engine being so poor.
Other awful things like players running into your player who has the ball and causing him to lose it happen regularly also which would just never happen unless your player off the ball suddenly went blind... The game tries to put him back to his position in the quickest way possible which makes this happen regularly and its very frustrating. Players often take way too much time on the ball and sort of stand there doing nothing for 5 seconds and then the opposition puts in a tackle and wins it. Just so many things like this that leaves your screaming at the game...
All in all its just not a very enjoyable experience. I appreciate the way theyre trying to take the game but it needs work to make it feel fulfilling and actually have any impact and the engine needs a lot of work to make this playable.
Every other aspect of the game is still second to none outside matches and tactics but the main focal point of the game is severely lacking.
on 16 November 2013
I never thought i'd be saying this, but having a 3D match engine has killed football manager and I don't believe there will be anyway back for them now either. I just think that football manager sims where only ever meant to have simplistic game engines but a lot of tactical depth and emphasis on stats and database size. In theory having a 3D game engine is a good idea, but in reality, you have other games like FIFA who have better graphics, realistic game play and the capacity to manage on it too now, so I wonder if FM14 is approaching redundancy as an actual game (lets face it, when the graphics and game play get so good, we'd probably mostly rather play than manage).
The game itself, well there is nothing I can really say which hasn't been said by others already. I hasn't improved one bit from FM13 (or even 11/12 for that matter either). Its full of bugs and such that all the previous editions have also had. You'd think they would have ironed them out by now. The game play is totally unrealistic, so much so that you wonder if your tactics actually do anything at all, but rather the game just randomly decides what will happen before the game even starts. The interview/press conferences and pointless and boring and just end up making the game drag. The same could be said about the team talk element too. Good idea in theory, pointless in practice.
The defending element is abysmal. Defenders will literally stand and watch opposition strikers walk it into the net. Even when everyone is back defending in the box. I have had 1 opponent player take on 6 defenders all in the box and score, with not one of them making a tackle. And I even had it on orders to hassle and get stuck into tackles.
Transfers seem almost impossible, unless you have manage a rich club and even then they are mostly tight as they possible can be with transfer funds and you end up having to talk to the board all the time requesting an adjustment to the transfer budget.
So in a nutshell,If you have been playing since the days of CM2, unless you really need to have a flash 3D match engine (which doesn't work properly), leave well alone and save yourself £30. Even if you are new to the genre, your still probably going to find it miles to frustrating and monotonous.
on 7 February 2014
It pains me to be negative about a series of games I love, but the continuing theme of releasing a game which is unfinished and then patching it later is getting tiresome. It was released in October and now here we are in February - a full 4 months down the line - and there are still serious flaws with the match engine.
Most of the issues other reviewers have stated here are cropping up for me too; defenders who pay not a blind bit of notice to instructions and simply allow the AI attackers to wander through on goal, wingers who cannot beat the fullback (AI wingers don't have this problem, of course), players who take ridiculously heavy first touches and allow the ball to be nicked off their feet. I could go on, but I'll only make myself angry again. I'm sure that, come the time for the new patch in next month, the game will end up fine (this was the case with FM13), but that is beside the point: by the time the game is playable it's 6 months to the release of the next version, so you're only really getting 6 months of the game at its best. This is OK for some people, but I'm afraid I'm getting a bit fed up with it.
I've played this game since the 97/98 version of Championship Manager, and it's been so engrossing over the years. But the last 2 installments have been a step backwards in quality and, whilst I can't say I will never buy another FM again, I will say that I won't be doing so on release date. I'm certainly going to avoid FM15 if they advertise a 'new match engine'. Why do they build them seemingly from scratch each year?
I think this series of games needs a long hard look at it, because I know I'm not the only long-term fan of them who is becoming more than a little disillusioned.
on 15 May 2014
I haven't really got heavily into any of the FM series for a good few years now but buy them as they still contain enough interest for me to feel it is worthwhile.
My personal opinion is don't buy the game when it is first released unless it is at a very good discount as year after year the games are released with quite a few bugs that eventually get ironed out and updates applied but not normally until February/March.
The game in itself seems conflicted, on the one hand they are trying to make FMC an easier version but it is a bit too gimmicky for me and too much like an 'arcade version' which isn't what FM for me is all about.
The full version is far too bloated and the developers seem so desperate to add more and more to the game so they can advertise it as '900 new features' and use that as a selling point that I feel they have really started to have trouble with seeing the 'wood for the trees'.
I think the game in itself is ok, not great but with the updates and if you can get it at a good price it is worth a purchase.
I personally feel that they need to start to prioritise the areas that they want to focus on and that 'less is more' when it comes to this game and the myriad options you have with it and the sometimes crazy affect these decisions can have on your players and then your results can really drive you crazy.
on 23 April 2014
I will be honest i didn't think i was going to buy it after reading other people's reviews on the game and they were so bad but i decided that i was going to judge the game for myself and i was impressed in no time. The match engine hasn't improved really but the Managerial experience overall has improved dramatically. The press isn't as bad as it was last time the player and bored interaction is definitely better than 13 their is also job interviews now and the overall season is just so realistic. I will admit that the game is incredibly hard but very enjoyable and i would recommend it to all football manager fans and football fans who have never played it before and are looking for a challenge. Most people have insulted it and very few have praised it i for one love it and you shouldn't let the other reviews put you off because it is a great game and it's up to you if you buy it or not but if you do you will be in for a real treat.
on 29 December 2013
I must admit I have had this game for a good 3 weeks now, and so far it is more than fair to say I haven't really gotten into it, it's not that I haven't tried though, I have started multiple saves with teams like Lazio, Inter, Man City, Wolves, but no fun. I am seriously next thinking of delving into a league like the conference, because supposedly it will be free from all the unscheduled chaos that goes on in the more established leagues, so let me go into detail and compare to the last few versions:
Not bad same as usual really, It has been a clever transition in the last few games to make it so that instead of submitting an offer to a player and waiting whether he will join you or some other team, you now get to negotiate like you would in real life, wages, loyalty bonuses, agent fees, team of the year fees, promotion wage rise, relegation wage decrease, release clause etc. I could go on for days but the new features to this has been a talked about addition called the 'non playing fee' or the 'sub fee' which means you have to pay your player MONEY! for him not to play (crazy!) I don't like this feature, and even I have doubts to whether it even exists in real life. How outrageous, but apart from this minor drawback I would say the contract feature is pretty solid and apart from agents sometimes being unrealistic with their demands (which is just life i'm afraid) you get a pretty solid feature here.
Match Engine...I don't play on the polished 3D mode just so you all know, I have always played on the 2D mode, I think it looks nice and tbh this game has always been a lot more about simulation and gameplay than graphics for me so I won't judge it too much by its graphics as personally I don't think it matters. I have a few issues with the match engine (just like I did with the one on FM 13) but unfortunately I think it has gotten worse, more games you have where you have 25 shots opposed to the oppositions 6 and they win 2-0, sure I have seen this happen in real life but on FM14 it is common to see it every game, then you get players making mistakes almost every game, experienced players like Kompany and Clichy tripping over the ball or passing it straight to Ricky Lambert so he can easily tuck it past Joe Hart with ease, we are all human so mistakes happen, but usually I find in football it is far more infrequent once a player has experience like the formers, sure young players will make mistakes as they are still learning and I for one can understand that as it just happens to be life but at the end of the day I keep seeing it no matter how I tell them to play.
JOB INTERVIEWS AND APPLYING FOR JOBS:
I have another problem with this game, when I got unfortunately fired by Inter only 10 games into a file, I tried the best part of 18 months to find a job, I set my manager to go on holiday indefinitely and told him to apply for any jobs, now these included lower division clubs as well because the longer I went on without having a job the more and more angry I became at how frustrating it was watching teams give me some stupid interview, asking me a load of irrelevant questions about money and wages and philosophies, then waiting a week, finding out they appointed some other idiot, and then applying for more just for them to repeat the same thing, what the hell happened to the days of appointing someone because you thought they were the best man for the job? I think this feature is a sign of SI being a bit over realistic as not only was the applying much easier in the previous games, it was a lot more fun. Also in real life if I was an international football, albeit with not much international experience, and I went unemployed because Inter were a load of incompetent douchebags, I wouldn't have to look THIS FAR! for a job.
Another thing that seems to happen these days on FM, since FM 12 I should mention is that people are overvalued by their clubs, now sure this will happen in real life and this is realism in many ways but I don't want to have to pay 35 million for a 10 million pound player, it is just common sense, but no if you want to sign someone decent you have to splash the cash for someone who isn't even worth it in the first place. I quite like transfers still though apart from this minor feature and there is no better feeling than signing someone in the world of football manager.
I personally think they could improve this, and it is in need of a serious patch which hasn't seem to come yet, if it had maybe FM 11s match engine and FM 10s transfer engine, I would say this would be back to it's best, oh and FM 11s contracts as well. I may or may not improve this, but for now I am giving it a fair 3 stars, like I said I haven't had a proper chance to get into it, I really wanted a game that would pull me in and give me a reason to keep playing but I find it hard atm as for every win there is a stupid loss to a team who are bottom of the league, thanks for reading.
on 20 June 2014
I don't know why they do it but every now and then SI games release a version of Football Manager and they seem to crank up the difficulty to ridiculous extremes. Whether this is to appease the die-hard fans or they're simply reckless with their coding I'm not sure, but what I do know is that this year's edition is a frustrating mess of a game. Don't get me wrong, many aspects are excellent, including a staggeringly accurate player database, nice interface, and even a sensible new system for setting out tactical instructions. None of that matters, however, as the game is way. too. hard.
The problem lies SOLELY in the poor match engine and, specifically, the over-exaggerated dips in form that cripple your team almost every single season. It doesn't matter who you are, Real Madrid, PSG, or Wigan - you will run into a brick wall and start losing game after game for no apparent reason. The fanboys will say "it's your tactics", but if my tactics are so bad how come I won 8 games in a row before suddenly losing 4 or 5 in a row? It doesn't make any sense, it's like that game knows you're doing too well and flicks the bad form switch to try and keep things challenging.
As a fan of this series for many years it pains me to say this, but I think SI games are losing their way with this series, and it doesn't help motivate them when there is absolutely no genuine competition to rival them in the football sim genre. If you want my advice, go back to FM 2012 and download the most recent data update you can find.
on 29 December 2013
Football Manager 2014 could have been the perfect footy manager sim, but unfortunately Sports Interactive have developed a game that is so stacked against the player the the enjoyment is all but destroyed. No matter what team the player is in charge of, be it Man Utd or St Pat's Athletic, the player will struggle, even against opposition that should be a walk over. Many times it feels that no matter what the player does, they will be outmatched by the computer AI, who will usurp their tactical changes every time.
To make everything even more difficult, the player's tactics, which have to be built up over time, are wrecked if any changes are made during a match...and changes HAVE to made during every match. An attribute that is "Fluid" can be reduced to "Awkward" with the simple click of a mouse button. So, what you have is a complete waste of time on behalf of the player, because the AI will always get the measure of your team's tactics and will out play them in the match engine. This is borne out by numerous accounts from players that have recounted their winning streaks at the start of a season, which all of a sudden fail to even secure a goal, even against the lowliest of teams, while they manage to gain access to your goal and oftentimes, score that vital goal, much to the bewilderment of the player.
Of course, there are shock results in football all the time. But FM14 takes surprise defeats to a new level completely, at least for the human player. In addition, there seems to be teams that the human player will just not be able to defeat, no matter what they do. For instance, I played Liverpool (5th) off against Sunderland (16th) 11 times in a row and Sunderland won EVERY time and sometimes by fantastic margins like 5-0 or 7-1. I even used the downloadable editor and gave the Liverpool players attributes of 20 across every important entry, I took away all "Unhappiness" and eliminated all "Injuries" and upped the morale to "Superb". Played each player in their "Natural" position and used the strongest formation where everything was "Fluid".
Liverpool still lost!
What this means is that all the in-game indicators that the player is doing something right are useless, because it comes down to simple, dumb, random luck as to whether the player wins the match or not.
Now, if I'd played my Liverpool team against a Barcelona or a Man Utd and those results happened, I might be more inclined to take it on the chin and move on. But this is Southampton we're talking about. Southampton are a team I have nothing against BTW, I used to watch them all the time during the Tiss days.
In the game's favor the database is fantastic, with tens of thousands of players to view and scout for. Unfortunately, the transfer system is very dubious, to say the least. The costs of transfers fluctuate so wildly that is simply irritating. Offer 10 million for a player and watch him say no to you, but yes to another team for a fraction of the price, leading to some truly headbanging moments.
Speaking of players, routinely, the players attributes will keep dropping, regardless of what the manager does. even if a player is getting constant first team football, his attributes will drop. Now, theoretically, this is ok, but in practice, it means that over time your team just gets worse, resulting in inevitable defeats. I've had 1st team players drop stats by up to 3 or 4 points over a couple of games, despite a solid training regime, good performances and results. For instance Luis Suarez was my highest scorer, gradually managed to achieve drops in his important stats over the first half of the season, to the point where he became useless to me, despite the fact that he was a constant 1st team player, with goals in double figures! So, during training, I focused on the attributes were failing and got Suarez to train on them. The result, was that he started to drop in other areas.
That, like much of the game, doesn't make any sense at all.
The match engine too, will have you tearing your hair out. It never looks like football and teh players look utterly ridiculous at times, which is somewhat ok, because FM14 is really a statistical simulation. However, players really do the most infuriating things. Defenders (even of high quality) refuse to "get stuck in", even if you have ordered them to do so. Strikers will fire the ball at the goal from a 1000 yards out, even though you've ordered them to "work the ball into the box". Players won't close down opposition, despite being told to and so on. All of this is on the player side as well.
The AI side (regardless of ability) will gain the most extraordinary breakthroughs of your defence. they will convert the most minimal of chances to goals. They will turn around all of your instructions and tactics and often will get a result against the players team, regardless of who they are.
This means that FM14 ends up just being an exhausting trial, where all the proper and correct efforts that the player engages in come to naught, on a continuous basis, because the game mechanics are designed to force the player to fail.
It's difficult to say to a potential buyer not to buy the game at all, as there may be some people out there that will love it and with subsequent patches and tweaks, it could end up being great. But, I think people should be aware how artificial the game difficulty is and just how the game gets the better of the human player.
on 11 November 2013
you would think for a football management sim, strikers would be able to put the ball in the goal. I have tried a huge variety of tactics, instructions, clubs and strikers and it is impossible to score. I am pretty sure, Wenger, Moyes, Pellegrini do not spend most of their time smashing their head against the wall trying to get a striker to score!! In the beta testing it was great, but as soon as the main game was released, it was made impossible to score! too may long shots? tell them to work ball into box. then they just try and walk it in. no middle ground.
The 'community' are no help either. You just get called a newb or an idiot. Been playing these games for 15 years and never had a problem as ridiculous as strikers disappearing in a game. It is like playing every match with 10 players.
You get suspicious of its simulation prowess when Everton are leading the league in the first season and you cannot sell Robin Van Persie for £6 million
Do yourself a favour and play something like FM2010. It will be dirt cheap now as well.