Reviewing FIFA Manager 13 brings back some good memories for me because FIFA Manager 12 was the first ever game that I reviewed. So, it was with great relish that I ripped the plastic off of the case and delved into the detailed mystery that is football management.
FIFA Manager 13 looks very similar to FIFA Manager 12 and I, for one, never expect any major changes to the next release in an annual franchise. This can be fun though because you pretty much know what to expect, how to play the game and you can see whether the tactics you used in the previous release work as well in the next one. I did notice quite a few changes that seem to have improved on the overall gameplay, however, and it seems as though the developer has really listened to the gamers and made changes that directly improve on some of points that many mentioned would make the game a lot more user friendly (and therefore enjoyable) to play.
One of the key items that the developers have worked on in FIFA Manager 13 is the menu navigation – because football management games are so detailed, navigation is one of the most difficult things to get used to and to get comfortable with. The developers at Bright Future (who have resumed their development of the games in the franchise) have added a very nifty navigation ribbon at the bottom of the screen, however, which allows for quick access to your most used areas of the game. I was very pleased to discover that this ribbon can be changed to suit your needs and you can re-order the icons on the ribbon at your leisure as well as add ones that you access more often, or even remove the ones that you hardly use at all.
Previously I mentioned your most used areas of the game. One of the greatest things about football management games is that fact that you can choose the level of involvement you would like to play at. You can micro-manage each individual player in all of your teams (including the reserves and the youth teams) or you could choose to manage just the highest level of the club. This means that you don’t have to get involved with the game at all – you can sit in your office and let everyone else do the hard work! Of course, the game would then revolve around you managing your infrastructure and staff. If you’re going to use the ‘hands-off’ approach, just make sure that you have the best facilities, the best stadium and the best staff to manage your success for you.
For FIFA Manager 13, the developers have also decided to concentrate more on the players. Team dynamics and player objectives are quite important in the game (that is, of course, if you decide to involve yourself in such detail). Ensuring that your team works together as a unit and has good team spirit is a very good way to ensure that your team wins those close games and works together instead of as individuals. This is a great tool to use when assessing the suitability of a new player in your team. Buying a great player that simply does not perform has always been an interesting phenomenon in football and team dynamics and the team matrix is one way of possibly ensuring that that this doesn’t happen in your team.
Another aspect of FIFA Manager 13 that I am quite pleased to see is that you, as the manager, have more control and interaction with the players. In previous iterations, talking to the players has been quite comprehensive but I have always felt that there are certain situations that are simply not catered for. FIFA Manger 13 increases the options and situations in which you can interact with your player to try and manage their morale and happiness better. There are certain very frustrating situations in which you have a player that you just cannot please, while buying an expensive striker that sits around sulking and (most importantly) doesn’t score goals, can make me want to scream.
I imagine it must be quite difficult to come up with new ideas for each iteration of annual games and the game must essentially remain the same because football management, too, must remain the same. Changing the look and feel might chase fans of the franchise away and changing the gameplay might do the same. I think FIFA Manager always manages to do just the right amount to make the game different enough to encourage us gamers to purchase a new release every year.
FIFA Manager 13 is, at its heart, a sports management simulation and it’s definitely not for everyone. I would suggest that this game is for fans of the sport or for gamers with lots of patience and no need for the adrenalin rush that a first-person shooter offers because it’s very difficult to achieve results early on in the game. Picking to play Barcelona is as challenging a play as picking Plymouth Argyle in the lower English leagues. It is often said that the only thing more difficult than getting to the top is staying there, and this is very true in the cut-throat world of competitive football.
The only possible negative that I can identify in FIFA Manager 13 is more a personal issue than an issue with the game. On my current PC setup I can only play the game with a very small database – the bigger the database you’d like to play with, the higher the performance your PC has to be. I played FIFA Manager 12 and 13 on my current set up but I doubt very much that I will be able to play FIFA Manager 14 on it.
FIFA Manager 13 is an excellent football management simulation and I can highly recommend this game to fans of the genre. If you are new to football management games and are interested in getting into it, I can also highly recommend this title because it’s easy to learn, fun to play and allows you to choose the level of detail you would like to be involved in.
As an example, I am only interested in the game of football so I allow my marketing manager to deal with all decisions relating to merchandising and I allow my business manager to handle the contracts of the reserve team. If you need constant adrenalin coursing through your veins, I would recommend FIFA 13 instead of FIFA Manager 13. Personally, I am very happy to have both.