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Football Manager 2015 & FM2015 handheld games: Product review

fm-2015-logo

In playing Football Manager 15, it’s sometimes hard to imagine how Sega and Sports Interactive can still come up with a yearly iteration that’s fresh and interesting, which is no less true with other annual sports franchises such as Madden and FIFA.  Somehow, though, they’ve pulled it off.  I haven’t played Football Manager for the last 2 years, so I can really see how it’s improved.

Presentation

The presentation of the game is so vitally important since it’s where you’ll spend most of your time, looking at stats and figures. Since I last played, the majority of the screens have been spruced up to give you everything you need at a mouse click.

One major improvement that I really love is the Scouting Report. It’s really interesting to see the pros and cons of a potential player that you want to buy. And thus far, it’s prevented me from making some big mistakes.

In general, most of the screens look less boring and more informative than in previous years, and allow you to just click to give you lots of information quickly and concisely.  Another detail I’m finding very helpful now is the ability of the game to tell you what formations your opponents struggle against, and which players you can potentially exploit tactically.

If you have played previous versions of this game, you’ll find that FM 2015 keeps you from hunting through so much random information, and instead presents it in as few clicks as possible.

fm-2015-management-style

During the testing of the game, I was using the Classic mode, which eliminates a lot of the micromanagement functions. In years past, I spent hours just trying to get out of one week because I got bogged down with the training, player morale and so much more. With the Classic mode, while it streamlines a lot of the game, it doesn’t quite put you on auto pilot and it does let you get through your season just a little faster. I do wish however that player interaction was still allowed.

Gameplay 

After you have done everything you can to prep your players, it’s time to play a game in FM 2015.  The new game engine works very well, providing a generic representation of the various pitches and players, and while it’s not up to FIFA standards, it gets the job done. Games generally take less than 5 to 10 minutes to play and of course the information presented is less muddied than previous versions.  Another improvement is when yelling orders to your team, depending on what you tell them, that particular selection will turn green.  At the same time, any order that is totally opposite of that will turn red.  This is a good idea as it reduces confusion on the pitch.

fm-2015-game-engine

Another aspect with the game is that even in Classic mode, managers still get to build a rapport with the media and it goes a long way to getting fans to trust you with their team.  No matter how you cut it, this game requires more hands-on time with your favorite club than what FIFA 15 provides.

If I had any complaint with the game, however, it is that even though this game comes out every November, I have never understood why SI never gets the actual fixtures for this present season just right.  I really would love to follow along with my actual club to see if my decisions would reflect what actually happens. I’m sure there will be a few mods that will come along to fix this (if they’re not available already).

This brings me to another love/hate I have with the game.  I do love the fact that this game is mod-able.  You can go and get as many logos, kit packs, face packs etc. The only issue is that you have to be careful of the sites that you get them from as some require a fee or the file packs may be broken up.

Also, here is one last selling point.  If you have a Steam account, you can pay once and download it for your PC and your Mac.  Furthermore, as you play, you can save to the Cloud and pick up where you left off as long as you have the game on a machine with a verified Steam account.  It was really nice to start the game on my PC early in the morning and then later that evening, grab my laptop and continue.  Best yet is that since FM15 is not a graphically intense game, so my 3 year old Mac didn’t suffer visually considering that my PC is a mid to high end machine.

Overall, it’s a solid product worth picking up if you need an update.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

Bonus review:

Football Manager Handheld 15

football-manager-handheld-2015

Nowadays, I spend more time playing on my tablet than I do on PCs, and the handheld version of Football Manager 2015 is no exception.

Football Manager Handheld 15 is pretty much the same game we have played for years, since it came to tablets. And while it may not have gotten a host of updates that the full-fledged version did, it’s gotten a number of minor tweaks that many may or may not find useful enough to justify another $10 dollar purchase.

One tweak I find useful is the scouting agency, which ranks the top 50 players and provides a good way to give you a quick look at a rising star.  Another feature I did find to be extremely useful is that within the tactics screen, as you set your team, you can now see the roles that each player is playing. At a quick glance, you can tell if your striker is a Target Man, or Poacher.

fm-2015-handheld-scouting-agency

 

There are a few other tweaks but not all are helpful, To be honest, unless you really need the roster update, there’s no need to purchase it, but if one thing has really improved that may make you consider moving up, it is the 2D engine. If anything, the engine itself is the saving grace for this game.  The AI has improved where unlike previous versions that shows one dot moving while the rest sits still, this year’s version is a more accurate in representing a good gameflow.

fm-2015-handheld-game-engine

There are still a few bugs to work out as my pregame tactics aren’t being saved, and I still for the life of me can’t figure out why the morale doesn’t work so well (no matter what you do, your players stay depressed!).  It’s also mod friendly and if you kept your packs from before, they should work as they did for mine. Otherwise this is still a great app to get you through your commute.

Rating: To score, if you are new to the game, this could easily get a 4 out fo 5 as I would recommend it to a newbie. If you have last year’s version, unless you need the AI improvement, you can skip over as it get a 2.75 out of 5 stars.

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