I’ve played a lot of football manager games in my life, despite the confusion of friends, I can’t help but love these simulators. The problem with reviewing management games like these (apart from the time it takes to play them and get a full understanding of them) is that each of them has something unique that stands out to individuals. It’s with that caveat that I say that the Football Manager series, and its latest iteration, Football Manager 2013, is my favourite title in the genre.
In its twentieth year, an exceptional record for any gaming title, Football Manager 2013 pulls out all the stops for fans and the detail is truly breathtaking. In fact, I am sure that despite the amount of time spent on the game, there are still a few things that I may have missed.
The primary objective of any game is, of course, to enjoy yourself. Secondary objectives include bragging rights, destroying friends and total strangers on- or offline, as well as a sense of achievement when you achieve a goal – either a personal one or one prescribed by the game. Football Management games make this exceptionally easy to do because you can manage which aspects of the game that you want to control. Personally, I am not particularly interested in my reserve team so I have my assistant manager control their actions. I do, however, insist on feedback that may have relevance to my… I mean … the first team.
Sports Interactive has made enjoying Football Manager even enjoyable by offering a ‘Classic’ mode. This strips out a lot of the complexity of managing a major football team and I personally think this is a excellent and well-timed offering. Football management games have, over the past few years, been driven to improve year upon year. They did this by adding more control and more depth and detail to an already cluttered game. This resulted in many gamers leaving the genre altogether simply due to boredom or just not having the time to get invested and play. The Classic mode rewinds the genre to a time where the game was more focused on the ‘action’ instead of the preparing for the ‘action.’
Football Manager 2013 is a fantastically popular game and this is evident in the weekly UK chart, which has featured the game since its launch. This means that there is a vibrant online community of managers with whom to interact. This fanbase surfaces not only with opportunities to play against real opponents and pit your wits against them, but also through social media hubs, forums and websites to interact with. I’ve noticed that the interaction with these gamers is mostly polite, mature and enjoyable, not generally something I have noticed in certain other online play.
The management interface is also very well designed. Although there is lot of content on each page, the navigation is quite intuitive and there are many different ways to perform each activity. I prefer the use of hotkeys and the right mouse button but there is also the option of point and click. The problem, unfortunately, is that this is simply an interface that one has to become accustomed to through play. The more time you play, the better I became at navigating the interface.
Fortunately I’m at a stage now where I have set my game up to my specific preferences and I can navigate to those parts of the game that I think are important. Football Manager 2013 is very customisable and allows players to select a multitude of gameplay options including skins to personalise the look and feel of your game. One of the features that I really enjoy is that the game can be displayed in a window so that you can minimise and maximise that game at your convenience.
Something that I don’t like about this game is the available ‘cheat’ option. Personally I am totally against cheats in any game but, for those of you out there who like it, there are cheats available that alter your budget, as well as alter the perception of you that the board and players may have. So, use it, don’t use it – whatever makes the playing of the game more fun for you – it’s totally up to you.
Another thing offered by Football Manager 2013 is especially suited for those players who would like a definitive end point to the game, which is seen in the challenges section. Players are provided with a scenario in which s/he has to complete various goals and this could be anything from winning a trophy or preventing relegation. Sounds simple? Think again. These are not called challenges for nothing! I wouldn’t recommend trying these challenges out until you have a good grasp on the game and you are comfortable with what makes a winning team.
The ‘action’ part of Football Manager 2013 is the actual football matches which can be viewed in 3D mode. Sports Interactive has obviously put a lot of effort into its 3D engine and it’s surprisingly effective, even managing to get the adrenaline flowing – not something normally associated with this type of game. There are a few kinks in the engine and some strange things can happen, but overall, this is an excellent part of the game. It’s nice seeing all of your hard work come to fruition in a smooth graphics interface. I can still remember coming back to beat Chelsea 2-1 with only 10 men!
So why is Football Manager 2013 the best? This is specifically a subjective viewpoint as this game fits into what I want in a management simulator. FIFA Manager 2013 is very, very close to being on par with Football Manager 2013 but I simply prefer the graphic interface and the in-game action of Football Manager 2013. There are a lot of things that I miss from FIFA Manager 2013 but Football Manager 2013 just pips the contest for me.
I would absolutely recommend Football Manager 2013 without reservation. This is a must have for fans of the genre, for those people interesting in renewing their love affair with the genre, as well as those looking to see what it’s all about – the Classic mode is exactly what you are looking for. This is a game that is incredible value for money and do not be surprised if you play many hours without even noticing. There are very few aspects of footballing life left out of the experience so it also provides a lot of insight into the sport in general.