Sports Interactive‘s Football Manager series latest installment, the unsurprisingly titled “Football Manager 2014″ is slated to be released in the usual holiday season quarter. Today, more details about content, new features and technological elements emerged from SI claiming “over 1000 improvements” have been made on the existing framework – the major ones are outlined below.
The first thing you’ll notice is that FM14 will not be limited to just Microsoft Windows OS ports, meaning that fans of the series will now be able to play the game on both iOS and certain Linux distributions (most notably Ubuntu), which is a massive step forward in my eyes following in the wake of Steam who have also been moving to port games to other operating systems.
Another new feature which I believe will revolutionise the way the game is played is the introduction of “Cloud Save” technology, which although it’s nothing new, is the first time it has been employed in the FM series. To such an avid Football Manager player, who has even installed Football Manager on his girlfriend’s computer, the ability to take my 5 year long present career and play it on another machine via cloud technology, is a tantalizing prospect.
It was also announced by Miles Jacobson, (Studio Director at Sports Interactive) via Twitter that purchasing one copy of the game will work across all operating systems that game is ported for and as will cloud technology, without the necessity to buy additional copies for different OS computers and allowing for save files to be transferred between different computers via cloud technology.
With the technological aspects dispensed with, it’s time to talk about the graphical element. SI have announced without too much detail that the 3D match engine will once again be improved which seems to be becoming a common feature promised. Personally I don’t use the 3D match engine except to view goals as at present it can be a little cumbersome and slow, so anything they can do to streamline and improve it might make me more receptive to using it in future. Also worth noting is a graphic overhaul of the in-game news system in order to make it much more streamlined and less clunky, as well as much more colourful it would seem. The upshot of this being that information should be much easier to find under the new system. A subtle little thing is also the addition of infographics, such as in training sections which could further facilitate a Moneyball-esque approach to football or as I like to call it “The Allardyce school of management”, with fancy representation of stats through charts and graphs.
The most dramatic in-game improvements appear to be to the tactical mechanics which have been tweaked to accommodate expansion on individual player roles and tactic creation, as well an upgraded AI that will much more readily suss out your tactics forcing more creativity and flexibility on the players part. In addition to this, the transfer/loan negotiations have been greatly expanded wit options such as loaning a purchased player back to a club for a period such as the real-life deal between Manchester United and Crystal Palace for Wilfred Zaha, as well as greater expansion in contract negotiations in line with the realistic complex nature of footballing contracts including additional clauses which can be used by the more canny players among the fan base to save money.
Another feature that SI seem to be rather proud of is the upgraded interaction system which as a follow on from previous incarnations which introduced more options, tones and even board requirements such as development of youth. The new system will focus heavily on interaction between board and manager including an entry interview when you choose to apply for a new club and improved interaction regarding transfer/wage budgets that go beyond the present “We cannot provide funds for this” being retorted by “I can see us falling behind our rivals”. Additional focus will also be on man management through player interaction including a new “end-of-season meeting” and ability to encourage influential players within your squad to promote harmony much like at clubs in real-life.
Lastly, the classic mode introduced in FM13 as streamlined, plug-in and play option for people who don’t want to mess around with an unwieldy, overstuffed database and in-depth tactical mastery, will be expanded on slightly with new challenges and more custom options for players who want to play a faster game, but want a little more content than previously offered and more tactical control through use of a “Match Plan Wizard” which seem a little more advanced than saying “Play for the win/draw” to your players.With all this and more, I’m certainly looking forward to this year’s Football Manager release and if you’re a fan of the series, you should be too!