Football Manager 2013
There are two key components to any review of Sports Interactive’s annual update to the juggernaut that is the Football Manager franchise.
The first is to complain that each new title is a guarantee of a lessening of familial and social interactions for an extended period of time while you dive into the minutiae of the crossing attributes of right-wingers from the Swedish Second Division. The second is to pick apart the key differences between this update and previous entries in the series. It seems only fair that we tick all the necessary boxes before rounding things up.
To clarify, yes, I am a Football Manager addict. I loved Championship Manager while it was still under the control of the Collyers and I naturally moved onto Football Manager when Sega became publisher. I have owned the past six games in the series and I wouldn’t think I am exaggerating in counting over 1,000 hours invested in these games. A horrifying total when looked on in black and white but a figure that accurately represents the addictive nature of these games.
Now my credentials have been established, we must delve into what makes 2013 different from previous variants. The first most noticeable change is the inclusion of a Classic mode that takes the traditional Career mode and streamlines it into an altogether smoother and quicker experience. Some of the fidelity of the original career mode is lost including press interactions and dealings with backroom staff. It does feel like an incredibly stripped out and diluted experience compared to what we have come to expect from Football Manager but it does mean that a season can be completed in a couple of days rather than a couple of weeks.
Aesthetically, 2013 has seen a major overhaul. Play Football Manager on what is now an aging Macbook and while 2012 ticked along very nicely, thank-you-very-much, 2013 struggles. The key screens such as Tactics and News appear more cramped and cluttered. On a modern PC with a good monitor this is unlikely prove to be a problem but it is something to be aware of if you are playing on an older laptop.
The 3D match engine is more polished than it has ever been. Each player has a huge library of moves and animations to draw upon, leading to a fluidity of movement not been seen before in a Football Manager game. This visual feedback allows more accurate interaction with your players via instant tactics and substitutions. The only slight niggle is that all teams seem to like to pass the ball around a little too much. It’s one thing to see the Manchester Uniteds and Barcelonas of this world constantly playing tight, neat passes around the box in an attempt to find an opening. Montrose or Stevenage on the other hand don’t tend to play that sort of football despite your managerial attempts. The engine doesn’t seem quite robust enough yet to support the full range of football teams you can manage, from minnows to megastars.
Ironically, it’s some of the things that haven’t seen any changes that are the most frustrating. The press conferences from 2012 caused huge frustration from the rabid fanbase despite the option to have your assistant deal with them at all times. Over 90% of the questions and answering options you’ll see in 2013 remain exactly the same with virtually no alterations or improvements. There are no excuses for not fixing this and we’d expect it to be top of the list of improvements for 2014.
Football Manager 2013 doesn’t do much to revitalise the franchise. The Classic mode needs work but could be the foundation of something more substantial in future updates. The match engine shows the usual sign of incremental improvement and everything feels a little more buffed and polished without offering anything revolutionary. I still love this franchise but it feel like Sports Interactive could do so much more to push it forward.