Football Manager Classic 2014 PS Vita review – on-the-go obsession let down by its pressing game

As a recovering FM addict (I’ve banned myself from playing the PC version since 2012), playing Football Manager 2014 Classic could have been a disaster. Sure, this handheld version is meant to be less life-sapping and somewhat shallower, but you don’t go around offering weak lager to alcoholics, do you? The series’ PS Vita debut is a solid supplement to that which you spend your nights playing while hoping the wife doesn’t catch you, but there are enough flaws in its implementation to ensure that I came through the experience with only a mild twitch in one eyelid.

Football Manager Classic 2014 PS Vita review – on-the-go obsession let down by its pressing game

Classic mode was introduced to Football Manager last year, to provide a more fast-paced and accessible game for players who no longer had weeks and months to dedicate to tweaking their training regimes just so. (Lightweights.) It made sense, has proved immensely popular and, most relevantly here, meant that the game could be properly ported over to on-the-go devices.

The Branislav Ivanović -sized ‘but’ is that PS Vita is not actually its ideal home. The touchscreen is that bit too small, not quite responsive enough, and the processing grunt just isn’t there to make the game zip along as you’d want. This is the first handheld incarnation of FM that comes with a 3D match engine, and while this sounds like a nice addition it does mean that matches play out far slower than would be ideal – especially when part of the ideology behind Classic mode is speed.

It’s the poorly implemented touchscreen controls that grate most. Talented though they are, we never expected SI Games to find a way to stretch Vita’s display, but they most definitely could have constructed a more friendly UI. Dragging players around to make tactical switches is unwieldy to an almost unusable extent, while simple squad selection matters take five times as long as they would with a mouse in your hand.

“This handheld version is meant to be less life-sapping and somewhat shallower, but you don’t go around offering weak lager to alcoholics, do you?”

And yet, and yet. The game’s Cross-Save function means that you can continue your FM Classic game when you get back to your PC, transferring all progress. Plus there’s greater depth here than the mode has seen before, with a more realistic transfer system, more information available at-a-glance, and the possibility of multiple playable leagues in each game.

This then is a worthwhile step for the franchise, and having it on Vita is a welcome sight. As it currently exists it’s more of a portable companion app for your PC version rather than a game that you’d be able to plough weeks into in and of itself (it’s simply too fiddly for that). But Cross-Save does somewhat /save/ the day (my ribs), and there’s a good level of detail to get stuck into. UI issues are a big letdown, but not a gamebreaker. It won’t bring your addiction back a fresh, but it may well prolong it.

Our Score

Score: 7
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