Hot benches

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Valery Aloyants
@valeryaloyants
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Running a videogame series for over twenty years is not easy at all, even if your name is Sports Interactive and your product is Football Manager, with hordes of fans who adore it as a real religion. A secret of longevity rooted in the philosophy of the team led by Miles Jacobson, which has remained faithful to the simplicity of its origins while being aware of having managed to dominate an entire slice of the market, wiping out all the competition.


Over time, the developers have become more and more aware of their means, with which they have given life to a game that is more than a game: a real story, able to merge reality and fiction, which annually repeats itself for all the players. The documentary An Alternative Reality, dedicated to Football Manager fans, talked about it extensively, as Jacobson himself told us a few days ago during an interview, from which we extracted the most interesting contents to publish them in this review. Also for this reason, let's not waste any more time, because there are so many things to talk about, waiting for Football Manager 2015 to arrive on the market on November 7th. Like other players who have booked it, we too have had the opportunity to sit in advance on the virtual benches, to go and touch all the news announced in recent weeks by the developers. We just have to get into the part, to find out what we will find this time on the long path of our coaching career.


An interview with Miles Jacobson and the Football Manager 2015 review, waiting for November 7th!



Bug disclaimer

Anyone familiar with the Football Manager series knows well that the downside of a work that pursues the complete representation of reality is the presence of a certain number of bugs, which can be found especially in the first days of each new edition. Football Manager 2015 is no exception, and that is why at the time of providing us with the code for the Sports Interactive review it reported us the most significant problems on which the developers are already working, with the intention therefore to see them fixed. for the official release on November 7th. Among these, we find the obvious skating effect of the players on the pitch, the goalkeepers a little too easy to beat, the presence of too many own goals and the need to optimize artificial intelligence. We naturally took all this into account, balancing it with what we saw with our own eyes during the game we played to write our article.

A small revolution

The review of Football Manager 2015 starts this time with an element that on other occasions has been relegated to closing: the game interface. If in the past Sports Interactive had in fact limited itself to improving the existing basic system, this year the designers have given a real change to the experience proposed to the player, through the main hub represented by a left sidebar.


Thanks to it, it is possible to access all the main areas of the game, therefore reachable in an easier way: an almost obligatory decision for Sports Interactive, which motivated these changes with the need to make all the elements of Football Manager 2015 more evident in the eyes of the players. The confirmation also came from Miles Jacobson, according to which fans were sometimes asked for new features that actually already existed, but which were hidden behind the need to navigate through too many menus to be reached. Now, for the first time everything is just a few clicks away, including the brand new search bar, very similar to that of browsers: starting to type a name, you can view a series of automatic suggestions in perfect Google style, thus saving additional time. Like any radical change, the new interface also brings with it the need to cross a certain learning curve, however quite rapid: the goal is simplified by the presence of a contextual tutorial, made available to us to show us step by step the new features added to the game.


A matter of role

Among the novelties of Football Manager 2015, we also find the one that the game offers us as soon as a new game is started, to be exact when we create our manager profile. In fact, a new screen has been combined with the various data that we all know, where you can choose your managerial style, in the ways that we have already detailed in the preview phase.


It is thus possible to choose an experience level, based on which to assign a series of points to the various parameters present, intended according to the intentions of Sports Interactive to influence the way in which we will manage the game situations. The coach is not in fact precluded anything, but the choice of a type of coach closest to the training field and to the team will give us, for example, the possibility of obtaining greater feedback when we talk about tactical aspects with our players, while vice versa. the presence of a manager with more communication skills could help keep the press and opponent under control in particularly hot situations. To really evaluate such a component, it will naturally take the feedback of thousands of players and their seasons, but the impression we had is that actually the choice of a certain "role" can influence the various components of the game., for better or for worse, thus creating a real personality for our manager, which was missing before. An essential part in the life of every coach is the tactics system, which has already passed through a simplification with which Jacobson and his team had retired the slider system. Now, the management of the eleven deployed on the field has become even more intuitive, without losing depth, to also offer some new roles to be assigned to the players so that they interpret their position as we want.


There are no striking news, but it is impossible not to notice how Sports Interactive has entered every single element, implementing a really successful optimization work, aimed above all at making all the aspects that make up the game work properly. Long-time fans may perhaps turn up their noses in the face of a progressive preference by developers for graphic elements at the expense of bare and raw text, but we would like to appreciate novelties such as the one that divides the feelings of each player into "pros and cons. ", thus offering us a detailed and immediately legible photograph of the physical and emotional moment of each athlete in the squad. The novelty reserved for players to observe is interesting and even more realistic, for which we can now see a range of values ​​for some parameters, which can be restricted by unleashing one of our scouts on the current talent. In the past you will remember that some data were hidden, so the novelty therefore makes it necessary to gradually discover the actual skills, at the same time offering a way to decide in advance whether to go and observe someone else to find what we need. Among the things to review, however, the way in which some players behave: seeing Callejón ask to go to Chelsea after only three days of the championship, to then show himself unhappy in the face of our predictable no, left us a bit stunned, while there are also too many complaints from the reserves. It should be noted that, despite Sports Interactive's efforts to add depth, press conferences are always the most indigestible game element, a sign that there is something to be reviewed at their root.

A chat with Miles

Did the reception for the documentary satisfy you? Will we see other such initiatives?
I was surprised at how positive the reception was, not just from the Football Manager community. It was in the top ten at the box office, simultaneously on television in 47 countries and in the top 20 on iTunes, it was phenomenal. The rating on IMDB is also very high (8,2 Ed). For the future, who knows what might happen, now we know we have an audience for our game that goes beyond the game itself.

People also feel close to you because Football Manager allows them to have real stories to tell.
Surely! When they play, people are allowed to create their own stories. With other games, it is the story that tells you what happens, in this case we say ok, this is the universe, play how you want. And that creates better stories for the players, because instead of just being part of the story, they are the story.

Let's take stock of Classic mode: has it managed to bring back some old players?
Yes, we have seen some players return. I am no longer the director of FM Classic, which Oliver Collyer is now in charge of, and the reason is simple: if I had continued to work on it, it would have become more complicated. FM Classic did its job very well, there was also the interesting experiment with PlayStation Vita of crossplay on multiple platforms.

Have the two modes helped their respective growth in recent years? Without FM Classic there wouldn't have been some UI elements we introduced this year. Let's take icons for example: I personally prefer everything to be text-based, but since they worked so well on FM Classic, who am I to stop them? I believe that all the games we have made are able to help each other, allowing us to learn from how people play them: we want to be able to entertain as much as possible with our games.

What's your new favorite feature in Football Manager 2015?
It's a weird thing, because my new favorite feature isn't actually a feature - it's how the whole game works as a whole. We have many people at work in many areas, and sometimes it can happen that things don't turn out properly, but this year everything is coherent and very credible, because what we have tried to do with Football Manager is to create a world in which you can. losing and believing it is true, an alternate reality.

In the 3D engine you make use for the first time in motion capture. Aesthetics aside, did you have to change anything in the engine itself?
Many games are driven by animation, ours by AI - animations come into play when the AI ​​tells them to. All animations are something the engine already did, but it didn't have the graphics component to represent it. The two thousand new animations are just the beginning of what we want to do for the engine: we also introduced a new light management, but back to the question what required changes in the artificial intelligence was the new physics of the ball. When it changes the trajectory, the players also have to change their behavior.

How do you experience the absence of competition now that FIFA Manager is gone? Do you believe that it can harm you in some way?
FIFA Manager only sold very well in Germany, but poorly in other countries. We have seen so many brands come and go, I think about sixteen since I have been working here, but we have a path: we know what we want and how to move things forward, so whether there are other games or not on the market does not matter to us, because we are intent on doing what we've been doing for the past 20 years, whatever happens. It is not something that can affect us. I was very sad when I learned that FIFA Manager would no longer be made, but because I appreciated the work of the developers who fortunately now work on other games.

Have you played any browser-based manager games?
I played Top Eleven for a while, as an arcade game it is fun. I think it's tricky to do a browser manager, because you have to keep things simple enough for it to be playable. But that doesn't stop them from being funny, while limiting their depth.

Can you tell us something about the new Football Manager Handheld?
It will be out by Christmas, but we won't talk about it until Football Manager 2015 comes out. In November, we will talk about all the news.

The novelties of the Classic

For obvious space requirements, we focused on the full version of Football Manager 2015 to write our review. Even the Classic mode naturally sees a series of innovations introduced within it by the developers, led by the co-founder of the series Oliver Collyer. Among them, we point out the arrival of the possibility of skipping the entire pre-season phase on the occasion of the first season, the possibility of uploading a larger player database, new requests to be made to the management and new pre-match meetings to be held together with the team. . There are also some new unlockables, unique elements for the Classic mode that are actually equivalent to what elsewhere we would call cheats: for example, you can choose to make a lifetime contract to a player, remove any disqualification pending on someone's head and even do in so that the opponents of the next match are out of shape, with a nice reference to the story of the "Dodgy Lasagne" which in 2006 saw Tottenham lose the qualification for the Champions League, following the absence of some members of the starting team.

Let's go to the field

After making history in two dimensions, Football Manager has for years now included the possibility of simulating the games of our team in three dimensions, through its 3D engine. In this edition, the most important innovation in this sense was the use of motion capture, to reproduce the movements of the players with greater accuracy. Considering that the code for the review was not the final one, it seemed to us that the sector dedicated to simulation was the one in need of further refinement: not surprisingly, the list of reports received by Sports Interactive collects various elements related to the 3D engine.

Having made the necessary premise, we can say that we were most impressed by the goalkeepers, now much more credible in their saves than the woody animations that could have been witnessed in the past. Thus so the artificial intelligence, in some cases a bit deficient: witnessing a goalkeeper who rejects the ball a few steps away from him without jumping on it, or seeing four players surround an opponent (who is not Messi) without being able to steal the ball, are phases in which that simulation of reality breaks a little that Football Manager has been chasing for decades. As for the interface of the match, there are few changes, but there is one that will certainly delight many: with Football Manager 2015 it becomes possible to speak with the players directly, even when they are on the pitch, without therefore having to to necessarily wait for the end of the first half or the game to give a possible shock. In the event that a player feels unmotivated, for example, just click on the appropriate menu item to try to encourage him to give his best; this new feature is naturally flanked by the other options historically available to us, through which to manage the behavior of the entire team while on the pitch.

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • The editorial team uses the ASUS CG8250 Personal Computer
  • Intel Core i7 2600 processor
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti video card
  • Windows 7 operating system

Minimum requirements

  • Operating System: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4, Intel Core, AMD Athlon - XP: 1.6GHz+ V/7/8: 2.2GHz+
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB
  • Scheda Video: NVidia GeForce FX 5900 Ultra, ATI Radeon 9800, Intel GMA X3100 - 128MB VRAM
  • DirectX: 9.0c

Comment

Digital Delivery Steam Price 49,99 € Resources4Gaming.com

9.0

Readers (47)

6.8

Your vote

Football Manager 2015 once again manages to completely kidnap whoever is in front of the monitor, leveraging an interface that makes everything easier. Beyond the announcements of Sports Interactive, the news that can be found with the "naked eye" in the dynamics of the game are perhaps not many, but the developers must be given the real credit for having made sure that the whole experience works in a convincing way in its together. The bug chapter remains open, since some of them are actually annoying: at present, the game's rating could be a few decimal places, but we have decided to trust Sports Interactive while waiting for the update to the final version of the game. In case of sensational news, good or bad, we will return to address the topic. In the hope that all the problems will be solved as soon as possible, in conclusion we can say that Football Manager 2015 will continue to thrill all the fans, ready to spend hours and hours with their favorite game, while vice versa those who have never loved this series will not have special reasons to start doing it now.

PRO

  • Great new animations
  • New interface promoted with flying colors
  • Depth is combined with simplicity
  • You breathe football in full lungs
AGAINST
  • Some unrealistic events
  • Artificial intelligence to be reviewed
  • Bug evidenti
  • Limited major news
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