The Football Manager series has always been something of an enigma to me; how can one person get so involved in football matches that they have no direct control over? Watching friends play previous versions of the game I would laugh at the endless menus and board meetings, and mock at how you don’t even get to actually play with the team. However, it is only when you pick up a copy of Football Manager and get hooked for days on end do you understand how enthralling and realistic this managerial simulator can be.
Football Manager 15 doesn’t break the mould of its predecessors, instead it brings many needed changes to the menu systems and allows new users to easily navigate through the blocks of text and jargon, drawing them into the extremely addictive world of football. As usual, players choose a team to be put in charge of with the goal of success in the top tier of their respective football divisions.
This year, Football Manager has allowed a great deal of flexibility when it comes to managerial styles; focusing on either a tracksuit manager or a tactical one. The tracksuit manager obviously focuses on training for matches to strengthen the squad whilst the tactical manager’s goal is sort out smart moves on the pitch that will win games and decide titles. What is great about this structure is that players aren’t stuck with just these two options, it is a sliding scale in which you accurately depict your own managerial style.
The increase in choice translates perfectly on to the pitch also, as managers can now give team talks from the touchline in order to quickly change the flow of the game without having to wait for half time. This is especially useful after scoring or conceding a goal as it allows the manager to pick out players who aren’t performing to the right standard and up their game. The emphasise on small changes that will exploit the other team is easy to see with the assistant manager highlighting failures on the pitch and suggesting what would help to improve the game. With the new 3D modelling of the match, it is much easier to see actually how your team is performing; being able to see early crosses float into empty space will spur on any manager to push more men into the box.
Off the pitch is where Football Manager gets complicated. In previous iterations players would have to weave through menus for what seemed to be years until they found what they were looking for. In Football Manager 15, the sidebar returns for an incredibly streamlined experience where you can find almost anything within seconds. This change means that seasons can be completed much faster and you will rarely get bogged down by infuriating menus.
New players can also get a lot of help from the assistant manager; who will carry out interviews with press, organise the training of the team, and even sort out the team sheet. For amateurs this can save a lot of time and will help to gradually settle them in to what is a complicated simulator. The best thing an assistant manager can do is shorten board meetings that often can be boring and time consuming. When you do decide to take on more responsibility you have to be on top of everything or suffer the consequences. A bad news report from a tabloid can dampen team spirits and even anger the boardroom, putting your job under scrutiny.
Training individuals in your squad can be a great joy – especially if you follow football and understand the characteristics of the player. For example, a player like Jack Wilshere needs a challenge in training instead of a quiet word to make him work at his full potential, but this won’t work for Aaron Ramsey or Per Mertesacker.
Classic mode returns for Football Manager 15, a streamlined experience in which you fly through seasons at a much faster rate, with the ability to skip to the end of matches a welcome one for those who don’t have much time to devote or just want to play on the fly. Challenge mode makes an appearance also, with things like fighting from the relegation zone to champions with only half a season to go, spicing up the gameplay if the regular seasons does prove to be boring after a very long while.
Football Manager 15 brings a much needed update to its predecessor with a streamlined experience allowing for players of all abilities to pick up a play a season with ease. The new 3D graphics and attention to detail in almost every aspect of the simulator really improves the gameplay experience. Football Manager 15 is an enthralling experience which easily finds the back of the net this year.