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Review

Football Manager Classic 2014 Review (Vita)

Goalscoring superstar hero.

Sports Interactive’s Football Manager has grown hugely since the mid-nineties when it first took over my PC. It’s now regularly the best selling PC game here in Europe and it has a gargantuan database of meticulously rated players and staff that has even been used by some professional teams as a step in their real-world scouting process. It’s huge, it’s comprehensive and it’s almost troublingly compelling for many.

A couple of years ago saw the introduction of Football Manager Classic, originally as a game mode in the PC title that would be a bit quicker to play and cut out some of the more intricate details of dealing with your players and managing your club. It’s this game mode that has made the leap to Vita and it’s a markedly more involved experience than the mobile versions of the game that I’ve always found to be quite frustratingly lacking in features that I routinely used to get the best from my teams in the PC game.

Football Manager Classic still has all of those tactical and strategic features that are such a game changer in the more detailed PC version of the game. Classic misses out on things like half time team talks and complex scouting instructions but you can still set positional instructions within a formation and issue instructions to the team as a whole. This ranges from being able to tell one central midfielder in a 442 to play defensively while the other plays as an attacking playmaker to telling your wide players to play as inside forwards rather than traditional wingers.

Instructions allow you to impress upon your team even more detailed requests like encouraging them to play wider or more narrow, increase the tempo, float or drill crosses and many more incremental differences in approach that make a noticeable difference in your game. In short, FM Classic still gives you intricate enough control over your team’s shape and approach that it’s possible to beat a team that has better players than you simply by knowing where they’re tactically vulnerable.

The game itself plays well enough, although there are some minor performance concerns. The load times, including times waiting for the game to simulate all of the background results and data, are a little longer than ideal and the 3D match engine seems to struggle for frame rate quite often. Those aren’t too worrying though, and certainly less of a concern than the biggest issue for some of us: the touchscreen buttons are often quite tiny.

I’ll readily admit that I’ve got larger than average hands and my skills with an iPhone keyboard will attest to how imprecise I can be with touchscreen inputs. But FM Classic seems much more difficult than most simply because some of the touchable areas are so small and close to others.

Regularly, when substituting players, I had to have a few goes at picking the player I actually wanted to bring on, rather than the one above or below him on the list. Likewise, when faced with a scrolling list selection, it’s tricky to scroll up or down with the touchscreen but this is negated once you realise that the right and left stick will often move the list up and down for you. Working out the less-than-intuitive control quirks in a game from a team used to giving you an entire keyboard and mouse to navigate their game is half the battle. For example, swapping players’ positions on the pitch requires holding the L1 button and touch-dragging them.

Many of the deeper options are kept off screen, behind an R1-activated drop down so there has been some attempt to at least keep unnecessary clutter out of your way. That said, it’s going to be tricky for newcomers to get used to the locations of certain key information on any given screen, especially when you take into account how tiny some of the text can be. Left on the d-pad will take you to the previous screen, right to the next and the X button can be tapped in lieu of the “continue” touch-button.

It’s quite impressive just how much is crammed into a portable device – it really is the entire game mode from the PC version – and if you’re a fan of the series, it’ll only feel like a slightly more fiddly, slower version of your PC game. That’s useful for another very good reason too – cloud saves. You can transfer your PC game to Vita and continue playing on the go and then shift it back to the PC when you’re in the house. This is an excellent excuse for PC players to make that second purchase and an ideal way to set up your more fiddly instructions and tactics on a big screen before loading up your saves on a Vita and playing through a few games on the train (or on the toilet).

The vast selection of teams to choose from and leagues to manage in is this game’s stand-out selling point and the trophy list will encourage you to perhaps play outside of your comfort zone, and for longer than any sane person might initially plan – there’s a silver trophy for playing 30 consecutive seasons. That’s going to take hundreds of hours.

What’s Good:

  • It’s the full game mode, in your hand.
  • Huge selection of teams to choose from.
  • Deep systems, both visible and hidden, to accurately simulate football management.
  • Cross save is great for people with two versions of the game.

What’s Bad:

  • Slow pacing will put some off.
  • Fiddly controls require tiny fingertips.
  • Long loading and simulation waits.

It’s a slow paced game and the Vita version is a little less than swift about its transitions, simulations and loading screens but that’s a small price to pay for those die hard fans that want to take their Football Management career on the road. For newcomers, it might be a little alien to spend so much time just sitting watching a largely non-interactive set of match highlights or progress screens between the many menus and options but if you have some patience, a love for the sport and a lot of time, Football Manager Classic 2014 on Vita is likely to consume you.

Score: 7/10

10 Comments
  1. HywelWJ
    Member
    Since: Feb 2013

    Left my vita downloading it this morning. I take it you can toggle from the 3d view to the old style and speed up the match? I’ve always found the match itself window dressing, the stats around it being the most important. Haven’t played it almost a decade though, but still looking forward to it.

    Comment posted on 11/04/2014 at 08:11.
  2. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Outstanding, will be buying this but I have serious memory card issues so will need to get the boxed version. Looking forward to this, I haven’t played a decent football manager game since lma manager on ps2!

    Comment posted on 11/04/2014 at 09:06.
  3. Ben13Allen
    Member
    Since: Dec 2011

    Does the Vita version allow you to manage Conference North and South teams?

    Comment posted on 11/04/2014 at 09:45.
  4. Youles
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    I’d like to get this but it’s come rather late in the 2014 season for me. Hopefully 2015 will be out before Christmas, assuming they release it.

    Comment posted on 11/04/2014 at 09:57.
  5. H3ctormusic.com
    Member
    Since: Aug 2013

    Bye Bye Social Life …Hello Vita Honeymoon!

    Comment posted on 11/04/2014 at 10:37.
  6. DividSmythe
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    I was slightly put off this when I saw Videogamer’s review yesterday. They gave it a 4/10. I’m unsure if I trust them. I definitely trust TSA. So I’ll give it a whirl. Hopefully they patch it sort out the little fingers syndrome requirement.

    Comment posted on 11/04/2014 at 10:40.
  7. salvodaze
    Member
    Since: Dec 2012

    Anybody tried it yet, is it really awfully slow and clunky? I really wanted to get it.

    Comment posted on 11/04/2014 at 11:13.
    • cleric20
      Member
      Since: Sep 2008

      Hey – have been playing this all weekend – it’s SO addictive!!
      Sure the controls take a little getting used too and the gameplay might be slow paced but it’s such a joy – if you like the original, the Vita version is miles ahead of the ipad cut down effort. I’d recommend it!

      Comment posted on 13/04/2014 at 22:20.
  8. Erroneus
    Wanted "Trophy Hunter" but was too late.
    Since: May 2009

    To high a price for my taste, specially for a game this late in the season. If they would add a patch to update the roosters after the summer transfers, the price would be more fair.

    Now I’m waiting for a 2015 Vita version, which hopefully will be closer to season start or for this to drop a lot in price.

    Comment posted on 11/04/2014 at 17:16.
  9. Vaile23
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Can you easily modify the game? E.g. Add facepacks, logos, etc. ??

    Comment posted on 12/04/2014 at 12:16.

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