I've never really managed to get on with the mobile versions of Football Manager. Though the UI is streamlined brilliantly for use on small screens, and the options refined to allows for a degree of pick-up-and-play action on the go, it just didn't scratch the compulsive itch I got from the full-fat version on PC. I want the bells and whistles, the ridiculously advanced stats, the analytics that allow me to comb through previous games and then devise new tactics on an individual basis, whipping up other managers and journalists into a media maelstrom with my club at the heart of it all.
Football Manager Classic 2014 doesn't quite do all of that either, taking the Classic mode from the recent instalment of the FM series rather than the absurdly intricate full simulation; but it does come closer than any other portable manager sim before it. And, as it turns out, that's both a blessing, and also a bit of a curse.
Let's start with the positives, though. Above all else, this is the Football Manager experience that we know and love. The PlayStation Vita port remains phenomenally true to the original game, and that means you're no longer bound to your desk if you want to sink hours and hours into shunting that non-league club you started with towards Champions League glory. Classic might not quite boast the same level of absurd depth as the full simulation, but it's still enormously involved -- we've described it in the past as being a little like a nostalgic jaunt back to the FM titles of several years ago.
Training, tactics, transfers, and the team -- that's what Classic is all about, eschewing some of the more seemingly mundane elements of the managerial lifestyle like attempting to balance the books. The interface is clean and virtually identical to the PC version, and when you're in-match, you're only ever a few finger swipes and pushes away from your regular swathe of options -- whether that's swapping players in and out or barking orders to those already on the pitch.
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