Football Manager 2013 Review

A host of significant additions make this the most exhaustive, but also the most streamlined, Football Manager to date.

The first thing you do is pick a team. After that, anything could happen. It's one of the beautiful things about the Football Manager series--every game is different, every player plays differently, and every team provides a different challenge. By focusing on stats and raw data, Sports Interactive has distilled the beautiful game down to a form that has created a 20-year line of addicts. Addicts who want more detail, more leagues, and more chances to turn an underperforming minnow into a blossoming goliath of the game.

The new Classic mode features menus that are simpler and easier to digest.

It's odd, then, that--in a gesture of what is likely supreme self-awareness--Football Manager 2013's biggest new feature is Classic mode. Designed to streamline the playing experience for veterans and provide an extra helping hand to newcomers, Classic mode is seemingly an admission from the developers that the core game of Football Manager is perhaps becoming too big, too complex, and too time-consuming for anyone with a job, partner, and/or need for sleep (or, at the very least, aspirations to experience such things).

Without exaggeration, it's possible to complete a season of Classic mode in a day or less. This is largely thanks to reduced levels of media interaction, the complete removal of team talks, and the option to auto-resolve matches, taking you straight to the end of each game and displaying the final result in a matter of seconds. This may sound like Football Manager for Dummies, but to think of it in such a way is to do the mode a great disservice. Yes, you can fully simulate matches in seconds and completely remove yourself from player training schedules, but success and failure still ultimately rest on the work you put in over the days leading up to each match, and whether your team actually wants to play for you. Classic mode or not, good and bad managers still exist.

Underpinning Classic mode is the same set of algorithms and painstakingly categorized data that sits at the foundation, meaning the same level of flexibility is afforded to you when it comes to judging, buying, and selling new members of playing and backroom staff. For anyone who has stuck with the series year after year, seeing the same depth of information presented and harnessed in a slightly different way can be initially quite alarming and raises more than the odd question about why this mode is being introduced at all, and whether the game will be streamlined further from here on out.

It's a valid concern, and one that will no doubt split the existing Football Manager community in two--some will appreciate the time saved; others will see it as a threat to the full game they love. Unfortunately, there's no answer at present, but expect to see more resources being sunk into Classic mode in the future if players take to it in a big way. Future concerns aside, though, Classic mode is an excellent addition that makes it easier to get stuck in the world the game creates and a demonstration that, even after 20 years, Sports Interactive still has new ways to introduce us to its offspring.

Challenges are far from easy…try getting Portsmouth out of this mess.

Accompanying Classic mode in the "new ways to play stakes" is Challenge mode, which features challenges aimed at testing your managerial abilities under various adverse circumstances. The Challenge mode menu suggests that these feats of football wizardry range from easy to hard, but in reality they range from hard to sadistically hard. One challenge asks you to save your team from relegation. Sounds easy enough. Until you load a game up and realize that you start 21 games into the season and 17 points from safety. Another asks you to go through an entire season undefeated, while yet another demands that you meet the chairman's start-of-season expectations with a team so riddled with injuries that you wish you could suit up yourself in a bid to provide options at center back.

Like Classic mode, the challenges offer a new way to play and make it possible to live an entire story in a single sitting. Despite their uncompromising difficulty, the fact that you're presented with such a clear and direct goal makes the experience extremely rewarding when you get it right. It promotes a different way of approaching the game, knowing that you don't necessarily need to worry about next season and beyond--all you need to worry yourself with is what the best strategy is for the next game and this season. In an odd way, the constraints of the challenges are liberating in their narrow focus.

Classic and Challenge modes are joined by a wide selection of significant and welcome improvements to the main, full-fat game. In a neat juxtaposition to the streamlining demonstrated by Classic mode, the main Football Manager 2013 experience is meatier and more sophisticated than it has ever been.

Matches are more interactive and feature many more options for you to alter the course of a game than in the 2012 version. Throughout each encounter your assistant provides tactical hints in the form of Twitter-like messages in a new sidebar. These messages range from observations about which opposing players are looking dangerous to notes about which of your own players are looking tired and whether or not your long ball strategy is working. How you react to this information is completely up to you--you can ignore it and have faith that things will work out in the end, act on it directly by making a sub, or act on it less directly by changing up your tactics.

Your assistant manager provides helpful comments on the right-hand side of the match-day screen throughout each game.

The assistant manager notifications are especially helpful for those who opt to play games in commentary-only mode, or at least observe only key highlights or goal replays. No longer does it feel that not watching the game live by way of the 3D match engine--which is now smoother and more varied--means that you miss out on useful information that could aid your progress up the league. The hints not only add further realism to your job as manager, but are a real time saver.

Assistant manager comments come bundled with another match-day feature that allows you to react more quickly than before, and with minimal effort. New pulldown menus let you make quick substitutions and team mentality changes (from defensive to all-out attack and everything in between) without having to resort to the data-heavy tactical screen. There's now less excuse than ever for not reacting quickly enough to the mountain of data being churned under Football Manager 2013's hood.

Still, there are a couple of areas that would benefit from further refinement. During interactions with the media, you now have the option of speaking in the same range of tones available to you during team talks. This means you can answer questions in a passive, calm, aggressive, or other manner during press conferences, the idea being that your tone goes on to affect your players, the media's perception of you, and how you're viewed by your peers.

In reality, the tone has little noticeable impact aside from news reports noting how you reacted to certain questions. It's one of those cases where the feature is fun for a while, but eventually you give up using it because your time could be better spent focusing on something that really matters.

Media interactions, while slightly improved, could still be better.

By contrast, different tones in team talks can change a player's morale drastically. Having two similar systems that result in such different outcomes can, at times, make things feel inconsistent and unpredictable--then again, that unpredictability could well be a design feature implemented to more closely simulate the prima-donna players who have infiltrated today's game.

Despite the negatives, Football Manager 2013 is still the best example of the series yet. Classic mode is arguably the biggest single addition the series has ever seen, and it speaks volumes about the self-awareness and skill of the game's designers that it works as well as it does on this first iteration. Whether you buy into the idea of a more streamlined Football Manager ultimately depends on how hardcore of a player you see yourself. Whatever the case, the mere fact that there's a legitimate entry level for newcomers can only be a good thing and will surely lead to even more armchair managers in the years to come.

The Good
Classic mode speeds the game up and is inviting for newcomers
Assistant manager comments help tactical awareness
Challenge mode is focused and enticingly difficult
3D match engine looks better than ever
Most addictive and rewarding game of the series so far
The Bad
Media interaction still needs work
Team talks feel inconsistent
8
Great
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3 comments
rrider
rrider

Yeah, it WAS overpriced.  But try the online specials. Today it's for sale at GameFly for $13.

tenz01
tenz01

This game actually licensed or we playing with fake clubs/players again?

Majkic666
Majkic666

Wow! GS fails... giving it the trait "Getting more what you paid for" as much as i love Football manager and fifa manager i dont think you get even close to the 60 euro

Clynol
Clynol

Yeah Boi Football Chav 2013!! *sigh*

zasxas
zasxas

Another year we will spend many many hours trying to aquire players like neymar in a small team :)

expeditopaz2008
expeditopaz2008

I play this franchise since late 90's, and is good to see a review of the new FM here:) One day we'll have great games like FM for american football, baseball etc.

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

The hilarious box art with the guys face cut off at the top a running gag.

rip-a-stitch
rip-a-stitch

I like that classic mode speeds things up.  Hopefully it will keep this game from molesting my social life.  Again.

cunhafp
cunhafp

The most adictive game.

Joeguy00
Joeguy00

I'm surprised they don't call it Soccer Manager in the US to stop any confusion. Football Manager 11' is still installed on my Laptop, but I kind of want to try out Van Persie and Kagawa on Man U so I might need the new version I think.

vifupu9
vifupu9

What? Whats soccer? What are the United States? never heard of them

BPoole96
BPoole96

Wth? Why is this called Football Manager but it's about soccer?

eKriZZLe
eKriZZLe

The game is for statophiles. And for soccer fans. Thankfully, we don't have many soccer fans in the United States.

KnightSkull
KnightSkull

Ahh Football Manager, every year I say I wont get the new one and each year I can't help but get it.

meconate
meconate

Personally, I can never quite understand the appeal in these games.

gbus316
gbus316

Surely a Football Manager review is a waste of time. Just give it a great rating and move on.

richardcam21
richardcam21

Having just read the review, I'm a little confused. If this is such a great improvement with the features over last year's iteration, why give it the same score? the bad points that have been listed are very minor, given the scope of the game. I understand that reviews are essentially an opinion piece, but to compliment so many features and then rate it at 8/10, seems as inconsistent as the reviewer claims that the team talks are.

richardcam21
richardcam21

I like the way that classic mode has been introduced for the newer players and those without so much time to play. I'm also happy with the fact that it hasn't caused the main game to be cut back in any way. As a result, this should end up attracting a much wider audience. Well played SI.

dv_mrkn
dv_mrkn

I enjoyed the last installments of FM very much, so maybe the 2013 edition will be mine, too ;)

EvilSelf
EvilSelf

I havent played a new Football Manager for two years now. I might pick this one up!.

ChronoJ01
ChronoJ01

 @Slash_out It appeals more to the football fan. This game takes you in to the depth of actually running and managing a football club. Like; contract negotiations, buying / selling a player, developing the youth players, all that type of thing. But at the same time it doesn't play like Fifa or Pro Evo. Despite it's 3D game match engine. You could even make your own club from scratch via the database editor.  

Slash_out
Slash_out

Hey guys, does this game appeal more to the football fan (which I am not) or to the sim fan (which I am)?

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

@tenz01 again? lol. You havent played this have you. This isnt a console Pro Evo game, its a PC game. Did you know real life managers actually use Football manager at times to scout for real?

standinginfire
standinginfire

@tenz01 when did it ever have fake players?  Every player in the game is not only real, but scouted and accurately assessed to the point that when real teams capture a rising star it comes as no surprise to people who play this game.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

 @Majkic666 Really? Most people I know into this game get dozens upon dozens of hours of entertainment that keeps them up until all hours of the night. I'd say that sounds like an excellent value. 

WellAgedScotch
WellAgedScotch

 @Joeguy00 The first version I bought of this was '09.  For the '09 version, I bought it via Steam and it was called "Worldwide Soccer Manager."  I bought '11 version directly from their website, however, so I got Football Manager instead.  A steam search now shows that the '13 version on Steam lists it as Football Manager.  I guess they gave up on trying to gain an American audience.

enartloc
enartloc

 @BPoole96 because the sport in it uses the foot 99% of the time,hence "football",not like those girlie boys armored up to do some softcore version of rugby.Don't you find it ironic that you americans call "football" a sport played primarly with the hands?what,handball was taken too?

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

@eKriZZLe dude....America is the leading source of statistics for their games. Like, the amount of statistics they have for a single basketball player or team or season stat, borderlines on the insane.

Dumper1
Dumper1

 @q-bert39 Don't worry, another button mashing COD is on the way for you.

Deaho
Deaho

 @q-bert39 Reading splinter cell stories or playing splinter cell games,sounds like u comparing reading books with playing games,its totally different story than fifa and pes ,u need to play it first to see the difference.

gbus316
gbus316

 @KnightSkull

 I'm staying away from it this year - can't afford to fall into a 6 month FM black hole.

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

 @meconate It's for people who like statistics an probability, and understanding the overall possibilities of the sport. If you don't like any of these you sure won't see any appeal to the game.

Nattravnen
Nattravnen

 @richardcam21 Because if there would have been no improvements, just being as good as a previous game that gets 8/10, it should get less than 8 for bringing nothing new. In order for a series to keep it's good score year after year it needs to get better and better.

Spenneth
Spenneth

 @Slash_out Its a great sim game. But like som of the others are saying: very detailed! If you want to try a football manager sim that is easier to cope, try one of the fifa managers.. To me, football manager is a great sim but tends to be mostly for football fans.

Nattravnen
Nattravnen

 @Slash_out I think you could have much fun with the game even though you are not into football. A former roomie of mine loved the game and hated football at the same time. The game offers a lot of candy for the sim lover.

Zarkhaine
Zarkhaine

 @Slash_out Why would you play it if you're not into football? You would really struggle with pretty much everything.

Majkic666
Majkic666

 @Kevin-V well we live in 2 different countries.. even though Football is everything where i am from... people get this game and mostly plays this game when they are bored or in school... however after 1-3 seasons in-game most people just turns it down and don't return to it... beside over the last years (since the game has become worse since 2008 or 09 edition i have seen many people just skip it.. but most people i see who play the game have gotten it illegal and tells me that they would never pay such price for such a game... and they are actually people who buy FIFA and PES every year.. i myself have only tested the game on my computer and not felt any improvements that i liked since the old versions... Basically what i mean is, people look at the game as a manager game they play online like UEFA fantasy league and such thing, where they don't have to pay to set up their dream-team and that is what they look in Football manager from the many people i have meet from my football nation...

And most of the people i have talked with have said they would buy it if it was between 10-20 euros tops, while others think it should be free or less then 5 euros.. because get the same satisfaction of setting up their team on "football" manager games which can be found on the browser...

 

So yeah i find it overpriced especially if you compare it to other games. Look at example Torchlight 2, big game for cheap money which you can play for years... while this one kind of losses everything and the end of the football season...

richardcam21
richardcam21

 @Nattravnen I definitely see you point. Sequels should always look to bring improvements to their predecessors. However, the extent to which the reviewer compliments the new features, makes the 8.0 seem a bit miserly. It just seems to me that the tone of the review suggested that it would be a massively high scoring game i.e. 9.0 or even higher.

Slash_out
Slash_out

 @Zarkhaine Because I like sim games. I like to be able to take care of a hotel, a F1 team, a restaurant, a city, a bunch of random dudes making children in a house, whatever.

The theme doesn't interest me, it's how well the sim aspect is done.

I don't like football, so the football theme is not a + at all for me. But it's not a deterrent either, it's not like I hate the sport.

Which is why I want to know if the football theme is sugar coating for the fans and essential to enjoying the theme, or if it's a simulation that stands on its own.

BPoole96
BPoole96

 @McTabish  @mosgoth  @enartloc 

Ironically, realize and realise are the same thing, just spelt different depending on where live, similarly to how Americans use 'favor' while the UK uses 'favour'. This also applies the usage of the words soccer and football, it just depends on where you live.

mosgoth
mosgoth

 @BPoole96  @enartloc

 Forget him BPoole96, he clearly doesnt understand sports or the subtlety of your humor.  Doesnt realize the sport was Soccer even in Europe at one point ... nor does he know anything about the equipment or the effects of highspeed collisions in gridiron.  Don't waste your time on him

Nattravnen
Nattravnen

 @richardcam21 I see your point too, but also understand why the reviewer did the way he did. I have experienced myself games that you can't really point out any flaws, yet you don't feel like it deserves a 10/10. There just might be that feeling that it could have been better.

u1tradt
u1tradt

 @Slash_out  @Pieter_1986 Don't listen to the naysayers. If you have any interest in simulators and strategy and tactics then you're likely to enjoy this game regardless of whether you like football or not.

 

Contrary to what many people think, it is possible for someone inexperienced with football in general to grasp, and even excel at, the tactics of football. There's more to it than simply who's been watching games the longest.

 

You seem to like to play a game that lets you build something from the ground up and turn it into a powerhouse. So I reckon you'd enjoy this game. Of course you will need to get up to speed with the tactics and whatnot but that's nothing a little experimentation and analysis can't fix.

 

Nattravnen
Nattravnen

 @gbus316  @Slash_out  @Zarkhaine  That is not from one career only. That is the total sum of time I spent with the game (accordning to Steam). Don't think I have played more than 20, maybe 25, seasons before starting over.

Nattravnen
Nattravnen

 @enartloc  @gbus316  @Slash_out  @Zarkhaine If you want a screenie from Steam I'll get it for ya. Not sure if all those hours are active play time or not though. I tend to have the game running 24 h a day when I'm in the mood for FM. I play like one season a day when I play. And yes, I might very well have played it for 402 days.

Zarkhaine
Zarkhaine

 @Slash_out Well there's a lot to take in with this game. It is insanely detailed, but I still think you'd struggle with your lack of football knowledge - although if you do end up playing it, you will probably take more notice of real life football.

gbus316
gbus316

 @Slash_out  @Zarkhaine

 It's the best simulator i have ever played. But i am not sure how you'd get on with no knowledge of football. Having said that, all the tools are there for you to get by. If you like sims then you should go for it, because it really is top notch and a massive gaming experience. When I am in a full FM addiction, i'd tend to have it on my computer all day, getting in about 6 hours of gaming. Takes over your life

 

Football Manager 2013 More Info

  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    Football Manager 2013 brings 900-plus new and enhanced features to the Football Manager series.
    7.4
    Average User RatingOut of 119 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Football Manager 2013
    Developed by:
    Sports Interactive
    Published by:
    Sega
    Genres:
    Soccer, Management, Team-Based, Sports