By now, you've all read Richard's review of Football Manager 2014. I have the unenviable task of following up his decent review with one of my own, but I at least have the benefit of having played previous iterations of the simulator.
I started with Football Manager 2012, where I learned the basics and became familiar with the interface and some of the more basic systems. Then I progressed to Football Manager 2013. I opened up a whole new world of possibility, by delving deeper into the development and scouting systems, finding talent in far off reaches of Israel and Singapore. I dabbled in contract management, and transfers/transactions, and by the time I realized it, I had invested roughly a real life month into the game.
Needless to say, I am a big fan of the Football Manager franchise, and as others can attest to it is extremely accurate. In fact, of all the simulators and games I have played, it is without a doubt the most accurate to date.
Piggy backing on the consistency and accuracy of previous iterations, Football Manager 2014 does not disappoint, offering up tweaks only to the underlying systems leaving the vast majority of the game intact. Sure, they updated rosters and player attributes to reflect real life changes, and they resolved some staff issues here and there, but make no mistake, this is pretty much Football Manager 2013 with some extra shine on it.
Don't get me wrong, friends, you still should go out and get this version, if for no other reason than the higher degree of polish and smoothness to the system, but if you already have Football Manager 2013 you would not miss out on much between the two versions.
I could feasibly regale you with paragraph after paragraph describing and trying to quantify the sheer variety and depth of the player and staff pool, but by now you've read Richard's review and know it is about as deep as any simulation for any sport can and has been. What I will tell you is even for the lack of high-end graphics, I still find myself drawn more and more to the Football Manager franchise.
You can easily spend days playing the game, only barely touching on tactics or one-on-one chats with players and coaches. It is not absurd to spend hours preparing for a single opponent for a bloody preseason match. Football Manager takes realistic to a realm fans of the sport can only simply dream on.
Starting a new game takes time to even configure, as you have to select which countries and leagues to include in your available world talent pool. The less depth in your pool, the quicker the game will process each day. Don't get it confused, though, there are two paces in the game. The pace of daily processing, and the pace at which you go through each and every aspect of your day.
Twenty-four hours of game time can easily equate to far more than 24 hours in real life, if you choose to play the simulation as such.
From agents prodding you to take a look at their clients, to coaches offering advice on various aspects of game, tactics or personnel management, it can be quite a bit overwhelming at first. That is when you need to take a step back and figure out whether you want to be more of a Manager, a Coach, or some amalgamation of the two. I consistently choose the latter, as I love tactics, and I love managing the day to day aspects of the club.
Taking your time to find the players with the specific attributes you want can pay off dividends over the course of an entire season. It really pays to know what works best for you, whereas there are quite a few people out there who attempt to game the system by finding the "best" players and fielding a squad of 11 of them.
What those people tend not to realize is that over time, those players eventually demand a transfer or move. Their morale or happiness declines rapidly, and while you may end up with one or two good seasons, you cannot sustain that type of success. To some extent, this game is made for fans of teams like the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake.
Players excel best with other players who fit with their style best. Teams excel best when everybody works cohesively together. Games are won and lost by tactics and coaching, not just the attributes of a superstar player.
And really, isn't that what we all want from a soccer simulation?