Simulators are still one of the biggest genres on the PC platform and show no sign of letting up. A quick Steam search gives upwards of 200 games with the name “Simulator” in the main title. At this point I don’t even know what to consider these any more, as they tend to be too shallow to be actual “games” and much too complicated to be placed in the “casual” category alongside Angry Birds.
I don’t understand the fascination with these kinds of experiences as they seem to be chore to play. In my eyes, everyone who plays such a game should go work in the corresponding field. Let’s send all the Agricultural Simulator fans to a farm in Iowa and see how much they enjoy making ethanol. Much more productive then sitting in front of a monitor wasting their time “playing” these kinds of games.
With that note, I will now review Football Manager 2014, the newest iteration in the 8 year old series. For our American readers, no this is not American football, but rather soccer. Having never played any previous FM game before, I came into it without a single clue as to what was going on. I knew these were very data focused experiences but expected more intuitive experiences.
First of all, the game starts you off with team selection with almost no menu to speak of. After picking your team, you head of to choose your server with an option to play either offline or online. I didn’t want to get into the frenzy that online must be and as such I decided to go into it solo. Thankfully there were some tutorials to introduce you to the basics of the interface.
The only problem that there was with them is that you had to complete a single action after another. The screen would be locked until you clicked the specific button that the window prompted, leaving you no room to experiment and mess around with some options.
The game itself is comprised of something similar to opening Google OS. You are greeted with tabs with almost every respective aspect to your team, whether it be financial, player or competitive. Time passes by in the form of days and there are some where you are required to perform certain actions such as hiring a certain player or holding a press conference. Most of these present you with multiple decisions to handle them and your response makes on impact in the world as your team or sponsorship can easily change without a second click.
Prepare to read tons of stats and text. For the best team, you must investigate every single player before hiring them and then offer them a respectable amount of cash. You must then sign each of them up for practice and assign one to be team captain. It’s an incredible amount of micromanaging so thankfully time is not forced on you.
Getting to the actual matches is somewhat better, with you choosing the positions each member must play. You can also see your opponent’s roster which allows you to make better choices by putting strong players against each other to protect your goal. During the matches, you watch the game as you would on TV, an overhead view with occasional highlights of important moves. You can skip through it or watch the entire 90 minute match if you so wish. If you do watch it through, you can switch out players and call out unfair plays. This is also shown to you if you decide to skip, but doesn’t feel as important and decisive.
The game has a nice and crisp look, which is expected from a game that is 75% menu screens. Even with so little going on, this is a taxing game as all the calculations for all the teams are done onboard. The multiplayer apparently allows you to place your team against other players, but was not available when I tried to play it.
With improved rosters and a visual redesign, its likely owners of previous editions of Football Manager will likely pick this edition up as well, but as far as hardcore and most casual gaming fans go, this will not suit your tastes.
It is fantasy football only with soccer yet it does what it sets out. Fans of the sport will likely appreciate this view into the shoes of a soccer manager, just don’t expect this to be anything like FIFA. Think of this as if Paradox Interactive were to make a sport game, then dump your email into the mix and stir viourosly. TADA! You get Football Manager 2014.