New football season is well underway, and of course, new Football manager has hit the stores. Long running series has established itself as the ultimate manager game on the market, and nobody can come even close. Let’s take a look at what SI games has prepared for us this year around. Most notable changes are definitely new play modes, that include Challenge mode and Classic mode, improved match day experience, better looking 3D match engine and improvements to overall performance and data layout.
First notable difference from last year’s game is the main menu. Even though it has a recognizable FM touch to it, you will immediately notice how polished and shiny it is. Once you load your game, it becomes obvious that changes to the UI are for the better. Everything seems more handy, and available. Whether you need to check on your training regime, find a new right back or change tactics. Managing your team is also more enjoyable experience now, as you will find helpful tools that will make picking your side and finding new recruits lot less time consuming. It’s all shown in convenient tables, and very detailed. The revamped interface looks great, feels great, and really adds up to overall game experience.
Another thing that catches the eye is new training layout. It has been rearranged, and now it shows in calender mode, that allows for better visibility and makes planning out your training more satisfying. You will see all the relevant information on a day to day basis, with training plan for each day clearly visible. Will you work on your teamwork or defensive positioning is entirely up to you. The difference does not feel so much when playing the classic mode, there it is only a matter of adjusting several sliders to fit the needs of your team. In career mode however, possibilities are ample, and it takes some time to get used to the new system. You can manually set up each training session to fit your playing style or let your assistant take care of it while you concentrate on the overall direction in which you want to go. There is of course individual training, where you can train your players for specific positions you would like them to play in.
Probably the biggest change to this year’s game is the implementation of Classic mode. It’s basically a standard game but without unnecessary details. It makes for much faster play, and considerably lowers the amount of time needed to actually finish a season. You are still responsible for all the mayor parts of team management i.e. transfers, wages, matches, training. To save time you will be relieved of some tedious actions like press conferences where media was breathing down your neck and most of the team talks, which become the responsibility of your assistants. If you are really in a rush there is an option to simulate matches in a matter of seconds, which can save quite some time. This will come in handy to everybody who likes the series but lacks sufficient time to play the regular career mode, and that is pretty much everyone who has a job and a family. Since i also fall in that category, i found this mode to my liking, even though i miss the intricacies of full career mode. However, i’m not overly confident that “hardcore” players will approve. They could see it as an assault on the integrity of the game, and resulting loss of detail. But, lets wait and reserve judgement for a later time.
Other mayor improvement is the introduction of Challenge mode, where players are pit against “worst case scenario” missions. Having played out one of them, namely “You can’t win anything with kids”, i can honestly say they are excruciatingly difficult. When you select a team to manage the game randomly creates several youngsters, in this case 18 year old kids, and instructs you to win a title with them. As you can imagine, the goal is exceedingly difficult to achieve, even with normal teams, let alone kids. To make it even more interesting, you cannot win the challenge if those youngsters haven’t played in most of your league matches. Jolly! There are number of other scenarios, where you are tasked to save a team from relegation (don’t expect a fair start), play out a season without loosing a single match (nearly impossible), and other goodies. Though they are very difficult, it is a welcome novelty from standard gameplay, if nothing but to break your routine between managing favorite clubs.
Football manager 2013 is a totally new game, radically different from previous editions. It brings new freshness into the series, especially for new players and weekend gamers. Whether you are a seasoned veteran of FM or a new player you will find this game appealing and enjoyable experience. New modes are fun to play, and add to replay value of the game. Overall game experience has improved significantly, with mayor revamp of match day experience, more detailed player & staff information and completely new training regime. If you still feel wanting, there is always multiplayer mode, where you can challenge your friends and colleagues to prove your prowess as a manager. My score on this game is 8.8/10
Good: new play modes – especially Classic mode; good design; improvements in 3D matches (although there is still room for more); more detailed and easy to use player & staff information screens; polished menus and new user interface
Bad: takes up too much free time; sluggish performance on some machines