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Football Manager 2013 Review

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Ian Dransfield

Football Manager 2013, the football sim that looks like work, is back. Can Sports Interactive improve on its successful formula, though?

footbalmanager_4.jpg

Published on Nov 2, 2012

Before you read the review of Football Manager 2013, why not read our exclusive interview with Sports Interactive's studio head, Miles Jacobson.

It’s genuinely getting to the point where reviewing Football Manager 2013 is difficult, because we want to love it but it’s just so similar to what came last year. If only the folks at Sports Interactive would pull their thumbs out and… just a second… Ah.

So Football Manager 2013 does actually add a whole new couple of modes to the game as well as making multiplayer better than it ever has been in the series (though admittedly still not a focus). Seems our pre-prepared stock intro won’t fly here. Damn.

Classic mode is the big new addition, made for the very developers who created the game because they don’t have the time to play it anymore. Oh, the public with no time too – it’s not a totally selfish creation. It’s a stripped-back version of the traditional Football Manager experience: less complex than the main simulation mode, but offering a great deal more than the Handheld spin-off does. The closest lazy comparison we can come up with is that it’s like Championship Manager 01/02, but more complex.

Gone are press conferences, avoided are teamtalks, messing about with minutiae is a Thing You Don’t Do and, if you don’t care to sit through them, you can get instant match results too. Yet somehow, some way, you still feel like you’re getting a solid, full management game.

Alright, we said graphically it’s improved, but if you weren’t impressed before… sorry.

There are areas you might lament not having much control – we do enjoy berating our team at half time, after all – but generally speaking it’s a well-made and, importantly, fun new way to play Football Manager.

Challenge mode is something imported from the Handheld version, and something we’ve also chatted about in previous coverage. For those who missed it: it’s a mode where you take on a game over a set period and have to abide by certain stipulations – your team is all injured, you’re in a relegation battle and so on – and overcome the challenge. Do you see what we did there?

It’s surprising how well it fits in the whole experience, offering a bit of a getaway from the other two, more involved modes. While its natural home sits on the portable, handheld devices of iPhones, Android devices and PSPs, it’s still good to see the extra bit of fun included in the game.

It’s important to lavish praise on the simulation mode of FM2013 (we’d call it ‘the classic’ mode, but that would just get confusing) in an obligatory paragraph or few, so let’s do that: there are smaller improvements across the board for the meatier attraction.

A more important role for directors of football (along with the manager’s ability to hire and fire them), a more refined scouting system, modified training systems (again), better prompts to get you gaming the media system (insulting Alan Pardew, mainly) and new financial stipulations – as well as region-specific tax rates – are just a few of the much-vaunted ‘more than 900’ changes made.

What it leads to is one of those experiences that feels that little bit different to last time around, just like FM2012 did, like FM2011 did before that and so on and so forth. A few graphical flourishes and a better match engine make for a more visually appealing spectacle too, and it’s not often you can say that about Football Manager.

Classic mode goes some way to encouraging those put off by the game’s complexity to give it a try. Go on, you might like it.

Simulation mode is the only part where we start to lose some of the boundless enthusiasm built up through playing Classic and Challenge modes. Maybe it’s just the fact we were going back to a tried and tested mode rather than something fresh and exciting, or maybe it’s just because – for all its quality – Football Manager works better in the stripped-back, Classic mode.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. For the time being, it’s good to know there’s the choice in a single package. If you want a quick(er) blast through a dozen seasons trying to drag Rotherham into the same division as traitorous striker Adam Le Fondre, you can do so in Classic mode.

If you fancy putting half of your life into the meticulous, engrossing management of Malmo as you turn them into a European force to be reckoned with, stick with the original simulation and you’ll be more than happy.

We didn’t expect big changes from Football Manager 2013, but we’ve been left spoilt with the riches bestowed upon us. It’s the best version of the game yet, no doubt about it.

 

Score Breakdown
Graphics
6.6 / 10
Sound
5.3 / 10
Gameplay
8.7 / 10
Longevity
9.6 / 10
Multiplayer
TBC / 10
Overall
8.8 / 10
Final Verdict
Offering a few brand new features to the home version we genuinely never expected to see, Football Manager 2013 is the best version of the game yet. And this time around we can genuinely recommend it to newcomers and time-poor. Huzzah!
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Game Details
Format:
PC
Release Date:
Out Now
Price:
£39.99
Publisher:
Sega
Developer:
Sports Interactive
Genre:
Sport
No. of players:
1+
Verdict
8.8 /10
For the first time in a while Football Manager makes some genuine strides, and it’s all the better for it.
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