Football Manager 2013 Hands-On: Classic & Challenge Modes Played
The Football Manager series is an odd one, in that it seems to get away with behaviour many other long-running franchises simply cannot.
Namely: it iterates on a yearly basis and complaints are only ever muted, if heard at all. But then along comes something like Football Manager 2013 and… well, shows you that the studio absolutely isn’t resting on any laurels.
The big addition for this year’s game is something of a terrifying one, set to devour souls as readily as it does hours.
Admittedly it might not actually be evil per se, but it’s hard not to see Football Manager Classic as anything other than a vindictive move on the part of Sports Interactive, with the nefarious types who make the decisions at the studio clearly feeding – growing in power – off of the spare time of others.
It’s the only explanation for the addition of a mode that strips things back to the Championship Managers of old (pre-Eidos split, of course), because this is the sort of thing that will lure back lapsed FM players into the fold. “I don’t have enough time to play it” will no longer be an excuse. That’s quite frightening, actually.
And playing it, you can see why: this is exactly what it promises to be. It’s less involved than the main game (which is, of course, still available) with many decisions for the backroom element simply taken out of your hands.
One thing Sports Interactive hasn’t changed is the lack of an ability to take a decent screenshot…
It’s also a lot quicker running, going so far as to allowing you to simply generate the result of a match automatically – unless you want to sit through the text commentary games, as is tradition.
We would baulk at such a direction, what with the simplification of games being such a stain on the industry as it is.
But this is a mode offered on top of the meaty ‘proper’ game, and that sees the usual batch of about 34,000 additions, tweaks and changes to a formula that has hardly put a foot wrong in the last few years.
But for some strange reason, Sports Interactive hasn’t stopped there: we also see the addition of Challenge Mode, which brings back wonderful memories of International Superstar Soccer’s scenarios (score from that corner against Japan or YOU LOSE).
Basically it is a mode borne from Football Manager Handheld and sees you, as manager (duh), trying to win out against a set of stipulations put in your way.
Our first try at the mode was straightforward enough: you’re in a relegation battle, so get the hell out of it (not Sports Interactive’s words).
Choosing the Spanish side Celta we were shocked, though unsurprised considering it’s the entire point of the mode, to find ourselves bottom of the league in February, 12 points behind the team above.
It might not look very compelling, but believe us when we say this will quickly become your life.
We lost our first game 4-2. At home. It didn’t get much better than that through the rest of the season.
But the thing is, we wanted it to get better. We wanted to start over and play again. These instances of Football Manager drama are what makes the series so captivating, and this method of distilling them down to their constituent parts and feeding them directly to your brain is enough to make us potentially OD on virtually managing footballers.
It is more than we have come to expect from a new Football Manager, and it is a couple of fantastic, logical additions to a series that might well have started to maybe possibly (maybe) get to the point where familiarity was its downfall. Possibly.
Instead, there’s a breath of fresh air pumped straight into the lungs of Football Manager and, much as the lapsed fans won’t want to hear – for the sake of their spare time – there’s a lot here to appeal to even those without hours upon hours to put into the game.
Just so long as challenges are varied, replayable and numerous enough to keep us going for a while – as if they’re not it could feel like a hugely wasted opportunity.
Well played, Sports Interactive. You spare time-stealing monsters.