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Football Manager 2015 review – the best just got better

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Price when reviewed : £34.99
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Football Manager 2015 is more unwieldy and fiendishly difficult than ever before - and that's a very good thing


Available formats: PC, Mac, Linux


You’ve just spent two hours agonising over the right man to be your head of youth development. Having whittled the list of candidates down to two, you’re now agonising over their respective tactical approaches. Do you go for the experienced candidate who prefers more conservative football, or the more adventurous, youthful option? This is the genius and folly of the Football Manager series.

The latest version, Football Manager 2015, is the most bewilderingly complex instalment to date. For novices that prefer the on-the-field antics of FIFA it will confuse more than delight, but aficionados will be purring with excitement at what’s on offer.

Football Manager 2015

Changes from last year’s edition are subtle but important. From the off you’re presented with crucial decisions about the sort of manager you want to be: tactical, technical, or a mix of the two. The distinction is important as it governs how you interact with your squad. You can also add coaching badges and tactical acumen to match your footballing philosophy. Want to play conservative, defensive football? Then make yourself an excellent defensive coach.

2015 does a pretty good job of pushing the novice player in the right direction through a series of in-game tips, which come in the form of yellow pop-ups that explain features and how to use them. Backroom staff also hold your hand and direct you towards important features and settings that need your attention. Eventually though, just like David Moyes, you’re all on your own and facing the media after a surprise 1-1 home draw against the worst team in the league.

Those more familiar with the game will immediately notice how different it looks. The sidebar makes a return, providing quick links to oft-frequented sections of the vast menus and sub-menus. The search bar at the top takes its cue from Google, auto-completing results as you type to speed up finding players and clubs. These changes make getting around the game quicker and easier.

Football Manager’s brilliance is in how it captures the highs and lows of football and its kaleidoscopic array of distractions. Press interviews, discussions with staff or players and job interviews are now more complex, with a myriad of options to choose from. This level of depth is present everywhere you look: tactics, training, contract negotiations, scouting, youth development and even Financial Fair Play regulations are all simulated with obsessive attention to detail.

Football Manager 2015

The most significant change is to the match engine itself; motion capture has been used to replicate the movements of actual footballers for the first time in the series. The squad at League Two side AFC Wimbledon were used to capture everything from body positions when shooting and passing to goalkeeper movements when making diving saves. This helps to create a more believable match day atmosphere, albeit one in which players still behave a tad erratically.

2015 is unquestionably the hardest Football Manager game to date. Changes to how scouting works have made it infuriatingly difficult to find new players. Whereas in previous iterations you could see stats for any player on the globe and instantly get an insight into how good they were, now your view of world football is limited to what your scouts know. If your scouts only have knowledge of Austrian and Belgian football then your ability to scout players plying their trade in Brazil is diminished.

Your scouting knowledge is represented on a map, with a percentage showing how well your club knows the footballing world. At a small club this makes scouting new players very difficult, while large clubs with established and well-funded scouting networks will have few difficulties. Football Manager was always more difficult playing as Macclesfield than Man United, and the changes to scouting make it even more unbalanced, but on the flipside this also makes it more realistic.

Football Manager 2015

Those put off by the sheer scale of Football Manager 2015 may find a happy compromise in the Classic game mode. This stripped down version of the main game has a simpler interface and fewer options. Football Manager Classic feels very much like versions of the game from half a decade ago. It is less unwieldy, quicker to play and still hugely enjoyable.

Challenge mode provides a third way to play, setting targets to reach when becoming manager of a club. The ‘Financial Storm’ challenge puts you in charge of a club crippled by debt and a hefty wage bill; you have to balance finances while keeping the team competitive. The ‘You can’t win anything with kids’ challenge gives any team you pick an exceptional crop of young talent in the youth squad – nurture the talent and use your young charges to win silverware.

The biggest complaint to level against Football Manager 2015 is that it’s too big and has the potential to ruin your social life and or marriage. That’s a well-worn cliché for the game (see Ian Macintosh’s excellent book Football Manager Stole My Life) but one that fits. This game is bigger, harder and more all-consuming than ever before – and all the better for it.

Available formatsPC, Mac, Linux
OS SupportWindows XP, Vista, 7, 8
Minimum CPUIntel Pentium 4, Intel Core, AMD Athlon – XP: 1.6GHz+ V/7/8: 2.2GHz+
Minimum GPUNVidia GeForce FX 5900 Ultra, ATI Radeon 9800, Intel GMA X3100 – 128MB VRAM
Minimum RAM1GB
Hard disk space3GB
Product code295270

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