Football Manager 2015 first look: Drastic interface changes, improved scouting - but watch the own goals

There are still glitches that need to be ironed out before its release

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The Independent Tech

With Football Manager 2015 set for release on 7 November, Sports Interactive have released a Beta version for fans and reviewers alike to get a taste of what to expect from the latest instalment of the favoured football sim of choice the world over.

Before breaking down the finer details of what is essentially a demo, it’s worth stating that a number of current issues will be addressed in the full version upon its release, and this is very much a work in progress until Friday’s unveiling.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Once you’re set-up and ready to go – frequent investors in the game will have no trouble with installing it, creating your manager and beginning a career – you’ll come to a much changed interface that you’ll rely on to provide everything and more throughout your managing career.

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The changes are quite drastic, with the main toolbar that for years has been at the top of the screen being moved to the left. It offers more depth, looks a bit more robust and clearer and to be honest, I’m a fan of the switch. It makes dealing with the day-to-day tasks of changing tactics, scouting players, negotiating tactics and the likes much easier and will cut down on the time spent looking for certain pages.

That said, the time saved on searching will be spent of team selection. In the past this has been made easy by simply right-clicking on a player to select him in the first available position. This no longer appears to work, and instead you can either drag the player into the desired position or select him from an over-complicated dropdown box.

I’m not sure why this would be removed having been a part of the game for as long as I can remember, so hopefully the full version will allow a quicker selection process.

Back to the positive points, the in-game play looks much cleaner yet includes more detail, which is a tricky one to master. A manager can now alter advanced tactics by using the ‘shout instructions’ button which has much more options available, and the ‘quick substitutions’ allows positional and role changes which has always been a nagging unavailability since the option was introduced.

The visual aspects of the game looks much more impressive too, with players on your team resembling the real life character much more than the colourful blocks that they have in the past. The AI still needs a bit of work, but we’ve been assured this is part of the full version, and the fact that little flicks, intricate passes and back-heels are shown in much more detail is definitely a bonus.

The gameplay experience is something to get used to. As is tradition, I started my first career with Arsenal as to get a gage of the different changes and make a comparison to the previous incarnation, and this included the intra-squad friendly that we all know about. It ended 8-7 to the first team, and suddenly alarm bells are ringing that goalkeepers have been left off the game altogether.

 

Sports Interactive have said that goalkeepers – especially in the lower leagues – are not yet up to standard and an unusual number of own-goals and missed back-passes will be seen on the Beta version. I wasn’t sure this was the case, until Wojciech Szczesny struck a goal kick straight into the back of Per Mertesacker and the ball looped over the Poles head and into the net. Houston, we have a problem.

There are an unusually high number of goals, but hopefully the full version update will rectify this, otherwise there could be a rapid increase in Football Manager-related heart attacks this year.

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Going back to sections of the game away from the pitch, there has been definite progress in this year’s incarnation. The transfer centre is now solely for incoming and outgoing transfers, loans and targets, meaning that all the confusing scouting information has been moved to the right section – scouting. It’s here that you’ll find a much clearer list of all of your scouts and their current assignments, and the scouting update email is much easier to understand as well as more in-depth should you wish to scroll through it.

The Beta version is a nice taster providing the glitches can be ironed out – the biggest annoyance is the absence of official club crests, shirts and player picture, although this usually isn’t a problem in the full version – and it suggests that Football Manager 2015 will be the best instalment yet one of the biggest running game series.

Football Manager 2015 is released on 7 November

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