Notorious for demanding equal amounts of time, focus and dedication, Football Manager taps into obsessive-compulsive nature like few games do. 2014 is as meticulous as ever, but crucially has been streamlined (if not dumbed down) to creating a faster overall experience.
This reworking does not hinder the intricacies of the game, but helps you work through a season's busywork in a far quicker fashion. Being able to control many of the facets of your club through the centralised news feed means less time is wasted trawling through menus.
The only downside is, due to the nature which said feed tends to be sped through, major stories or transfers start to hold less gravitas. Big contract and transfer negotiations can be mishandled as a consequence of skimming through the day's news, but you soon learn to start paying more attention.
Transfers can be handled in a much more timely fashion too, thanks to the ability to 'Suggest Terms' of an offer before officially submitting. Being able to negotiate 'live' with another club, rather than incrementally add value after each offer and wait for the response, speeds things up immensely.
Press conferences have also been given a much-needed injection of personality. Journalists will now ask questions based on comments from other managers. If the manager of your upcoming opponents has criticised one of your players, you are now able to fire back and slam his unprofessionalism, as well as launch some scathing comments of your own about his managerial ability.
Tactics are also easier to implement, thanks to them all being readily available on one screen, rather than selecting individual instructions from a drop-down menu. During matches, your assistant manager's tactical recommendations can also be applied directly from the comment feed.
FM 2014 allows you to do more in less time, but it doesn't mean you won't spend as many hours as you do every year playing the game. Whether you're desperately trying to avoid relegation or win that all-important cup final, this year's entry will once again keep you invested for a long time.
Played the beta and full version of the game for 50 hours.