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Thoughts on FM14 by Shrew

The "odd year" versions of the past have traditionally been the best copies - FM09, FM11, FM13... is FM15 next?

By on Oct 15, 2014   11383 views   7 comments
FM Concerns - Thoughts on FM14 by Shrew
With FM15 just around the corner, FM Scout have asked me to write a few words on FM14. I've been a fairly vocal critic of 14 for quite some time now, in fact in an unprecedented moment of cathartic liberation I uninstalled the bloody thing back in June and haven't looked back since; so it will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that this is largely a negative review of the game.

I may have played over 700 hours of FM14 but, for me, it's just a bad game. Only once uninstalling and going back to FM13 did I realise that I didn't actually enjoy playing FM14 that much, I simply played out of habit and a vain hope that the next patch would fix the quite terrible match engine.

With the new FM15 features announced recently, I've been party to a few discussions about its prospects. My usual answer is that we can't tell what 15 will be like until we play it because, as with every iteration of the series, it all comes down to the match engine - and it is this which made FM14 so poor. With the removal of sliders and the full-blooded commitment to the roles system, FM14 saw a significant shift in how the player can influence a match. A shift that, in my opinion, has made the game regress.

The removal of sliders and the limitations in personal instructions that can be given to a player make the game more restrictive, less flexible and ultimately less enjoyable. There is precious little customisation available in tactical instructions outwith the rather rigid parameters that are available in the roles. The introduction of the Raumdeuter in FM15 proves this nicely. I'd never heard of the Raumdeuter before and I guess most hadn't - apparently it was invented by Thomas Müller to describe his own role. So, in essence, SI are saying that you can't create instructions in the FM14 system which would reflect how the second top scorer at the World Cup plays... and so they have to introduce a new role specifically for just one player.

For many people, this sort of restriction won't matter, in fact it may make the game more accessible to significant numbers; but there will be many who, like me, find this inflexibility frustrating at best, game-breaking at worst. Anyway, my views on sliders are well covered by my article in Clear Cut Chance but it is an indication of the future of the game and the path the developers wish to take.

SI want to, quite understandably for marketing reasons, open up the game to a broader audience but it feels like their focus in doing this is all wrong for me. In a football simulation, the focus should almost entirely be on the match. Not the "match experience" with pre-game press conferences and graphics of ballboys round the pitch - the actual match, 22 men kicking the ball around in as realistic a manner as possible. FM13 was very good but somehow 14 managed to take a huge backwards step - introducing more of the frustrating in-match events that make a mockery of SI's claim that the game is as realistic as possible.

Maybe I'm in the minority. Maybe the match engine isn't everyone's main focus. Maybe people are happy that their fullbacks fail to defend the channels so long as they grow moustaches during November. Maybe people are happy for players to ignore a ball 5 yards from their feet so long as there's a picture of a burger van outside the stadium. Maybe people are happy that strikers never play a square ball across the 6 yard box so long as they can give their manager a second preferred club.

I appreciate that I am more cynical than most when it comes to FM and SI but all of these new "features" that get announced every year are filler. A distraction, some of them are little more than gimmicks. SI have to get the match engine right this year or the loyal fans like myself who were so put off by the abysmal engine in 14 may just give up. Of course, maybe they won't care. Maybe the constant move to a UI that is clearly aimed at porting to the tablet market will bring in more new players than are lost by their failure to focus on the basic mechanics of the game. Maybe the celebrity endorsements and curious mixture of hipster appeal and 'banter' (sigh) culture that pervade the latest versions will bring in new sales and old grumps like me will be left with our memories of sliders, wibble/wobble and better times.

Or, just perhaps, FM15 will actually be quite good and I'll be left looking rather silly. After all, the "odd year" versions of the past have traditionally been the best copies - FM09, FM11, FM13... is FM15 next? Is this part of the problem with a game that is released annually? There is no requirement for each version to be optimised as it's "only a year" until that can "be put right". Are we just paying £30 a year for a rolling beta? Well that's a discussion for another time...

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Discussion: Thoughts on FM14 by Shrew

7 comments have been posted so far.

  • AQN's avatar
    Hey Shrew,

    Good point. Although I would disagree with you over the odd year copies because I seriously am addicted to FM12 and really dislike FM13. And FM08 is up there as one of the best too. So I am about to play FM14, and reading your article makes me think really hard... Hmmmm any advice?

  • danecr7's avatar
    Completly agree, I missed the sliders a lot. Maybe a combination of sliders and instructions would be great IMO
  • Walter's avatar
    Although I like some of the new smaller features they've added for FM15, I agree with you when you say the match engine needs improving. I felt like FM14 was a game you had to conquer or defeat, almost... whereas in FM12 and FM13 you could enjoy it and you weren't pretty much forced to play a particular tactic or to use certain instructions in order to gain success.

    Overall, great review!
  • Shrewnaldo's avatar
    Thanks for the comments, glad you enjoyed it.

    Good to see that there are a number of people who clearly agree with me about FM14. Here's hoping FM15 is a big improvement.
  • tance_bogoeski2's avatar
    I agree with all of this ! I played FM09 a ton then i played it in 2010 cos i didnt liked fm10. The next 2 games i liked both 11 and 12 but FM13 felt like a sparkling cake for a 8y old kid's birthday. Fm14 was the worst. Got in december deleted it 2 weeks in it. Whats with the press conferences ?? so every manager is a Mourinho or Ferguson and needs them to put pressure or psychological advantage on the opponents ? And there was like only one or two patterns of answers where you wouldnt fu.k up thing and you had to do the same thing over and over and over or send the assistant but then he fu.ks it up for your best player or not pay attention to it ! We are in the 21st century Voyager drone left the solar system but we cant get costum positions in FM14 and like Shrewnaldo said they removed the sliders ! we can modify the position of a player on the field only back or forward not sideways which might seem a small thing to some but it bothers me ! it doesnt feel to me that the game was simplified for a larger audience but it felt like there were ton of addons in the purpose of a distraction! AND last NO 40million player misses 3-4 clear cut chances in a game !!
  • rajatsinha's avatar
    Have been playing FM14 since it was released. Never really tried the previous versions of the game. So, I don't have much to add to the discussion, but I would like to try FM13 and come back with a new comment.
    Thank you for sharing. :)
  • neuro_slm's avatar
    Great text. I put too nearly 700 hours in FM14, and there were saves and times I quite enjoyed; but don't get me wrong, I did so despite the match engine. The fact that my wingers and strikers kept shooting to the side netting was very frustrating at times. I went back to FM13 and played a couple saves that reminded me the love I have for this game, and then gave FM14 another chance. I found myself thinking 'Yeah, it looks better, it looks great actually, but this damn ME almost killed this game.'
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