What Football Manager 2013 Got Right
- + An insane amount of depth
- + Reworked UI with smooth interface and navigation
- + Great sense of achievement and progression
- + Classic mode is great for newbies
What Football Manager 2013 Got Wrong
- - Still quite confronting for those new to the franchise
Football Manager 2013 is a complex game. Complex in a way where I feel obligated to wear a suit and tie when playing it because, you know, I don’t want to tick off my team’s board and ownership. It’s a strangely addictive game that holds nothing back on the in-your-face-with-options front, and even as someone not particularly knowledgable of the Football Manager scene, I found it to be an especially engrossing and rewarding experience.
Is it better than Football Manager 2012? Maybe. Probably. If anything puts it above its most recent predecessor it’s the completely overhauled UI, and while the game might be perhaps a little too confronting for those, like me, that are relatively new to the franchise, it’s still the best sports management game out there...not that it has much in the genre to compete with.
I might not be a diehard Football Manager player, but I’m not afraid to admit that I do enjoy the sense of achievement, planning and tactical reliance the experience depends on. Football Manager 13 certainly brings it in that regard, and while there always seems to be so much going on on-screen, none of it seems trivial or worthless: this game literally provides everything one would assume they’d need in managing a football team, from the role coaches play, to the way players interact with each other (and you), and even to how you engage with the media. It’s a definitively simulated experience that does everything seemingly possible to make you feel like a football manager.
Initially, that works well. Taking control of a team and having the power to make or break its progression up the ranks of the football world provides a sense of power and accomplishment not otherwise possible in the likes of FIFA 13 and NBA 2K13, both of which admittedly offer admirable team management modes. The UI works well in offering clearly marked options and navigation, and while being a little confused by its initial layout is certainly not something to worry about, the complexity of it all I feel blends well with the expectations the game throws at you, which helps it realise its realistic feel.
After a while, though, it all seems a little tedious. There is a constant flow of meetings, scouting reports and press conferences, and while these are fun at first, engaging with a screen full of text and reading numbers on a screen is a little too uninspiring for me. You can send your assistants to do the dirty work for you, but I feel this takes away from the game.
I’m on the fence overall because I acknowledge that this is a series built on the very complexities and reliance on data that I’ve come to grow tired of after having played the game. However, the game makes up for all of this with rewarding progression and achievement as your personal standing improves, and in this sense the game certainly accurately portrays the real-life burdens of management: hard work and long hours.
This is, after all, a game about management and navigation, not straight-up gameplay mechanics and movement. And if you don’t want to spend weeks on end playing through a single season, the fantastic Classic mode is essentially the game’s way of saying, “I know I’m complicated, so here’s a toned down mode for you to enjoy over a few hours”. It’s a great addition that balances out complexity with quick bursts of satisfying, albeit still challenging, managerial gameplay.
A more hands-on approach is encouraged, though, and this is especially evident in the game’s training mode. While the learning curve is steep...very steep...it’s an implementation that pays off significantly in the long run, and it’s well worth the time investment. You have the capacity to set training schedules around upcoming games, as well as train individual players, and after having engaged directly with the training schedule for a few weeks, I found my team was performing better because of it. The results weren’t instantaneous, but slow and significant, which is impressive.
The ways in which you engage with your team also have an affect on its performance. Team and individual player morale is very important, and days off, as well as the occasional personal sit-down with certain players, are very important in the process of building a successful team.
The Final Verdict
As mind-numbingly complex and confusing Football Manager 13 can be, it’s still a fantastically deep and rewarding experience. You can tell that it’s a game built on the foundations of years of strong community feedback and following. I was rushing back to it initially because I wanted to know how my team was performing, and whether or not my younger players were responding well to training schedules with veteran teammates. I also wanted to know how my leaders were dealing with the burdens of being role models for newly-scouted players. And it doesn’t end there: my own personal standing in the game became a priority for me in real life, and that alone is evident of just how engrossing Football Manager 13 can be.
By Gaetano Prestia