Have You Played… Football Manager 2015?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every weekday of the year, perhaps for all time.

As Football Manager 2016 edges nearer, Football Manager 2015 [official site] begins to fade into the rearview. How did we feel about the last yearly iteration of the longrunning management game?

Our review was a little lukewarm. Football Manager never seems to have a year that’s a total disaster, but this one more than most felt like an interim step on the way towards more ambitious goals. It added little touches of the kind of roleplaying experience it seems Sports Interactive wants FM to be, but not enough to make it feel like it transcended the surface and penetrated into the rich simulation below.

Personally, I’ve settled over the past few years into a groove of playing the game’s Classic mode, which means many of its new additions passed me by and my own experience changed only a little from Football Manager 2014. Those changes mostly manifested on the pitch, where the match engine had been tweaked to resolve some bugbears with permanently misfiring strikers and goalkeepers.

Still, that lack of change was a disappointment. I hope that FM2016 goes further with its adoption of roleplaying as a core tenet of the experience, but also that more changes and additions are brought to the Classic mode. It’s the only way I have the time to play the game.


  1. fauxC says:

    I’ve played basically every year since Champ Man 93, and whilst we’ve been growing apart for the last few years anyway, I think FM2015 has finally driven me away completely. Felt there was so little connection between my actions and the results on the pitch.

    Haven’t tried Classic Mode since they introduced it. Maybe that’s the answer.

    • anHorse says:

      FM 15 also has this atrocious thing in it where the bottom of the table team is literally always your hardest match

      I love FM but it’s way too based on motivation and momentum now

      • arijit2612 says:

        I also agree with this. Motivation plays too much part of the ME[Match Engine] now. If you’re winning, then nobody’s there to stop your team for few consecutive game. But once your team is demotivated, then it’s very absurd to see loosing 4-1 to bottom team. Come’on, I mean upset is fine, but loosing like amateur is really something doesn’t work in real life.

    • Joriath says:

      Pretty much the same for me. I had clocked over a hundred hours in each of FM 12/13/14 but FM 15 just frustrated me. The same ‘mistakes’ from players with no way to address them, or bugs in the match engine that were not fixed eventually became too much. When I reported bugs and uploaded evidence, I was told they were working to fix the issues in question – said fixes never materialised – or that goalkeeper and defenders refusing to move towards a ball rebounded off the post, allowing a striker an easy goal, was working as designed.

      • gpown says:

        You got lucky, my posts on the SI forum were removed when I complained about the irrational behavior of strikers and goalkeepers in the most basic scenario in the game: goal kick. The goalie will very rarely distribute short balls no matter how hard you try to force him to do so, and your tiny strikers will run towards a long ball just to head it on to the opposition goalie. I’ve never seen that happen in real life.

        Basically, once you go through a few games’ stats and compare them with your tactics, you’ll see the game is nothing more than a cash grab by now. With the same bugs reappearing each year, almost as if they never integrated late fixes from the previous release into the new one.

      • arijit2612 says:

        I didn’t play FM12 much; for me FM 2013 was still best. Right amount of new features, right amount of team tactics and motivation effect in match results. FM13 still clocks highest playing time for me as per Steam. Next closest is FM14 for me.

  2. tenochtitlan says:

    So.. Should I play it or not?

    • gpown says:

      If you are addiction-prone and just like the idea of managing a club, sure.

      If you are in any degree a tactics geek and want to see those options reflected in game, protect your mental health from this game.

    • ruzvelt says:

      If you like football and like to create your own thing and then watch it unfold, then yes. You wont find better football management game anywhere else.

      And while in-game implementation of football tactics and recruitment system is sometimes (wildly) different than that in real world, it never fails to give you (well, me, in any case) that anxious feeling when, for example, you play your bitter rival club.

      Having said that, i think I’ll pass the FM2016 version. Judging by the last couple of years it wont change all that much and I have no spare time for it as it is (and will have less, thanks aging and obligations) and the price tag is just too big if you already own 2015 or ’14 version

  3. Boult Upright says:

    I actually didn’t purchase FM15. I have Leamington Spa in League One of FM14 but it has been a long hard slog. I agree with CM01/02 being in the best strategy games of all time. Fond memories of taking Bishop Auckland and Tiverton to European Glory. Unrealistic, but romantic.

  4. hirnbrot says:

    I haven’t and I pretty much couldn’t (excluding illegal and grey markets) – it’s not sold in Germany.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      You can just order the disc from amazon.co.uk. I think that’s how most people on meistertrainerforum.de do it. I guess someone might call that “grey market”, but who really cares about protecting the sanctity of EA’s marketing deals? You’re just buying a product within the EU.

      However, there’s something on their website about FM16 not even activating in certain regions, so you probably will have to use a VPN with future versions.

  5. BrianOConnell says:

    I personally find the annual releases too much. Once every two years would easily be enough for such a time sink of a game with the interim years being a free (save game safe) mega-patch to make some minor improvements etc.

  6. MasterDave says:

    I too wish they’d go to an every other year type release schedule with a few maintenance patches in between and maybe a paid full roster update in the off years.

    IMO it takes a bit of the oomph out of the release when the game comes out in November instead of closer to the start of the seasons. My enthusiasm is almost none for this game, I’ll probably just wait like I do every year until it hits the holiday Steam Sale at some discount instead of pre-ordering.

    If they’d skip 2016’s release, have it ready for pre-order in the summer for release the first week in September and not buggy as all crap, I’d easily pay full price. As-is, it’s never quite been worth the experience has it? I hate EA, but you have to admit they’re not dumb enough to release a Madden game in November instead of August. (still need work on the FIFA release, but what can you do?)

  7. Gothnak says:

    I have only been playing Classic mode and have enjoyed starting right at the bottom with Woking, getting fired from them and Hednesford before finding my feet with Maidenhead and getting promoted to the conference.

    The problems i have faced are as follows:

    Two star ratings for players, one for how good they are compared to your squad and one vs the rest of the world. Took me 2 seasons to work out why the 3* guy i was buying suddenly became 1.5* when i employed him.

    Morale… Oh god, morale… My team just goes on stupid runs of either wins or losses. I have gone on an unbeaten streak for 16 matches, lost one game and then gone on a streak with no wins for 10 matches. As soon as morale drops you are absolutely screwed even if as Maidenhead i’m top of the league, my morale is low as i have lost 2 matches, it’s crap and there is nothing you can do about it at all. After 5 or 6 matches you get to do a team talk, but that’s about it.

  8. JamesTheNumberless says:

    The thing I’d like to see them do better, is indicate how strong your currently selected squad/tactics is going to be for the upcoming game. I think they have to bite the bullet on this one and sacrifice a bit of realism for the sake of frustration.

    It’s got to the point where there are just so many factors in the game, it’s very hard to tell whether you’re losing because you have the right tactics/players but are just unlucky, or whether you’re losing and need to change your approach. The thing that lets the game down is all the guesswork it forces you to do.

    Somebody mentioned playing agains the bottom table team always being tough. The thing I’ve noticed is that when you play posession football and short passing against a team that’s going to “park the bus” you dominate posession, have about 50 shots to their 3 or 4, but are lucky if you manage to score… Yet if you play the same tactic against Man Utd you might win 5-0.

    Either that, or the game could benefit from having some sort of tutorial mode – as many less complicated games do, to demonstrate to you the effect that different tactics can have.

    IMO the best thing they could do is make the match engine deterministic, i.e. that the same set up would always lead to the same result. Which is, I’m sure, something they have available to them in testing. Then you could replay the same game with small changes and more accurately work out which tactical options have which effects – that would lead to a more confident and enjoyable experience going forward rather than a set of superstitions about what works and what doesn’t that could be based more on the random number generator than on your actual choices.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      All such a feature would have to do is give you a % chance of winning. Then you can tweak things and see if you can make this go up or down. Maybe even it could warn you about the thing that’s causing the most detrement to your chances (i.e. your striker is unfit, your midfield has low morale, you should be playing more attacking football, or your left-back is just not going to cope with their right winger, etc, etc, etc)

      And I don’t mean they should do this by a series of reports from your coaches, etc – there’s far too much of that bogging this game down already, and frankly I think that should all go. Just a straight-forwardly gamey mechanic, bit like you get in Total War games when proposing a battle.

      It might not be immersive and realistic but n othing breaks the immersion more than the feeling that the results you’re seeing are completely disconnected from your actions!

  9. lanelor says:

    What I hate in FM is that after 100+ hours I still feel without much of control over the players and general match outcome.

    Think about your star player. Now think what happens to team morale when he goes bitching how you didn’t sell him to Bayern/Arsenal/RealM for frikin peanuts. Or your regular substitute /for a reason/ wants to play in 1st team and everybody hears it week after week.

    Another topic, poor clubs stay poor. I whan semething like FIFA Manager when I create a new club and can develop both players and club faculties. Invest in money making structures to bolster the club. I want to be able to control the player(s) more directly, not sit and watch the outcome.