+ Improved interface
+ More management options
+ New Classic Mode
- Still has a learning curve
- Challenges lack punch
Final score: 9 / 10
Controller support: No
Windows XP or Vista or Windows 7 or Windows 8
1.6 GHz or faster processor for Windows XP and 2.2 GHz or faster for other OS
1 GB of RAM
128MB of RAM on video cards with supported chipsets: Nvidia FX 5900 Ultra or better or ATI Radeon 9800 or greater or Intel 82915G/82910GL or better
2 GB of free hard drive space
TCP/IP compliant LAN access
I might not love football the way that I do if it were not for the Football Manager series and its predecessors that the developers at Sports Interactive have created before it and this might be the heist praise that someone can heap upon a simulation title.
The concept of the game is incredibly ambitious because it aims to offer all the options linked to tactics, man management, team choice, transfers, public talks and on the fly changes that a real-world manager has and then deliver a 3D match experience that’s entertaining and no less watchable than a FIFA game.
Football Manager 2013 is another solid evolution for the Sports Interactive-created and SEGA-published franchise, despite the fact that there are no revolutions when it comes to the game mechanics.
The game offers more options than ever, introduces an all new Classic Mode that a segment of the player base will love and adds Challenges that manage to boil the entire experience into smaller packages that offer a superb introduction to the various features.
The life of a real-world manager of a club that’s engaged in a real-world professional football competition is endlessly complicated and filled with pressure, both of the very day variety and long term.
Football Manager 2013 allows gamers to choose almost any club they want from any country, from Argentina to the United States and to superpowers like the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy or Spain.
Each player has the freedom to choose and develop his own story, to look around, decide which starting point is the best for him and where he wants to get.
Match in the sun
I, for example, have always chosen Liverpool for my first playthrough for all Football Manager installments that I have played and I tend to set myself a five-year term during which I try to spend as much as possible in order to create a team that can win the Premier League and Champions League during the same year.
Other players run much longer games where they take a team from the lowest division in one country and then push it towards sustainable long-term glory.
There are other players who focus on a particular championship and then try to win the title with as many teams as possible for a given year.
Football Manager 2013 uses the same foundation as its predecessors and builds on it in order to make the simulation experience better than ever.
The biggest surprise is the way the simulation mechanics for actual matches have been modified and how close to the real world players are in most situations.
I have a habit of playing Football Manager while listening to and half watching actual football and I saw a lot of desperate clearances, close range misses and perfect passes both in the virtual and the real world, a nice example of how close a simulation can get as long as it has time and a dedicated development team.
There are also more options when it comes to man management, better ways of handling training and match preparations, more opportunities to talk the press, a better system for evaluating the most sought after players.
There’s also a new presentation for both 2D and 3D matches, which gives gamers more information about their own team and its performance and more ways to influence the way they perform on the pitch.
It’s a better overall game that gives football lovers more opportunities to build up their own narrative and rival the achievements of the best known real-life managers and coaches.
A separate mini-review is required for the new Classic Mode, one of the features that Sports Interactive has talked about the most during the development of Football Manager 2013.
The new mode is designed to eliminate much of the detail that the team has added to the simulation over the years in order to create a streamlined game experience that allows a player to get through an entire season in one sitting, which is somewhere between 2 and 3 hours.
Classic Mode is a big gamble because it needs to walk a fine line, with the pitfall of cutting too much on one side and with the danger of leaving too much in on the other.
Elements of the game that are removed include everything from the long press conferences, the player talks, the management of the Under 18 team, the deep interactions with the board and the multitude of ways to influence the staff that trains your team.
The Classic Mode focuses on squad management, tactics selection, planning for various match situations and on the pure pleasure of navigating from one match day to another, looking at results, planning new ways to dismantle oppositions, dealing with various competitions.
End to end
It’s certainly faster, closer to the experience that Football Manager offered in the early 2000’s and I found myself playing it much more than I planned to, mainly because the thrill of quick results kept me interested.
But after playing the full Football Manager 2013 experience I also concluded that Classic was not for me, because it restricted my freedom of movement within the club and built the entire experience around the team and its immediate results.
I prefer to play long sessions of FM, focusing on the long term, young players, innovative tactics, solid club development and all that is hard to do in Classic Mode.
But, from what I’ve played, the new addition to the series is well suited for those who have played the Manager Mode in the FIFA series and yearned for something more, because they will find an experience that takes away their direct control of players, but offers enough tactics and man management control to compensate.
Graphics and audio
Sports Interactive has predictably improved the 3D match engine for its new game, but the biggest progress I have seen is linked to the user interface and the way it has been re-designed once again in order to give the player even more information and options quickly, without asking him to navigate through a large number of screens and tabs.
Sound is not something that’s crucial to the success of a simulation game and Football Manager 2013 suffers in this department as even the default sounds for a football match seem artificial and unconnected to the actual experience.
The Football Manager series has never been known for an emphasis on multiplayer, but the 2013 installment from Sports Interactive certainly tries to make it easy for players to take their teams and their tactics and then use them against another real human being rather than the Artificial Intelligence.
Just make sure that you have a solid relationship with whatever buddy you launch a rivalry in during a multiplayer game because the wrong result in a derby match can quickly lead to real-world rifts.
I cannot, in good faith, recommend Football Manager 2013 to all people who share a love of both video games and the sport of football; for them the most natural fit is to play the EA Sports made FIFA 13 simulation title.
But for those who want more excitement, more hand wringing, a better understanding of tactics and man-management, Football Manager 2013 is a superb achievement, a game that they can play for one full year without any issues, while safely ignoring every other title that comes out.