Football Manager never changes, yet it continues to evolve. I've been playing this game for years, yet somehow with every new release it manages to hook me in once more. To be honest this game feels like it should be a full time career. Maybe it's the addictive nature, wonderful presentation or the sheer amount of detail which has been crammed into its database, whatever ever it is, once Football Manager gets your attention, it never lets go.
So here we are once more, I've been signed up to manage Glasgow Rangers for yet another year, except this time we'll be plying our trade in the third division. You wouldn't think it'd be too much of a challenge, what with a handful of SPL players in the squad and some excellent facilities. I still need to keep the players happy enough to win though, while hopefully appeasing the fans with a few cup upsets along the way. It's going to be an interesting season, but then it always is.
And that's what I love about Football Manager, it's just so realistic, Rangers are in the Third Division and while this may not interest many people, it sure interests me. Now all of a sudden I have the chance to return my favorite team to glory and nothing is going to stand in my way - Well apart from life, which generally ticks by while you sit for yet another hour at your computer, trying to mastermind that all important victory which could make or break your season.
Anyone whose old enough will remember the time when watching a match take place in Football Manager was just a series of text flashing up on the screen, before things evolved and we saw checkers flying about the screen instead. Things then changed again, allowing us to watch the action pan out with real players and now, building on last years version, we have a much improved 3D match engine - it's FIFA on your screen, but so much more. During a match you'll now watch as the action unfolds, however the game doesn't take what happens on the pitch out of your hands, instead your trusty assistant will constantly offer advice as to what your players should be doing on the pitch, while you are also able to shout out instructions to turn the game in your favorite. There's the ability to substitute underperforming players of course, while formation and tactical switches are always available on the fly.
Away from the pitch things change but still remain the same. This means you'll still be talking to the press, hyping up your team's chances or giving your opinions on other manager. You'll also be taking staff meetings to get advise; talking to individual players about their performance and general happiness and of course, you'll be managing your squad, keeping an eye on youth while also looking to bring in new talent to the squad. There are so many new options, so many people to keep happy and there are games to win, it's a lot to take on, but then that's why you are the manager.
New features which stand out this year include an overhaul to training, giving you an easier way to get the lads up to full match fitness. You can even send coaches to get more training badges, although in my case one coach did it off his own back and even paid for it himself. There are so many new features that you'll need to hunt them down yourself, most of which add to the experience without you even realizing.
Don't have the time to play a game this huge? Well it doesn't matter thanks to the brand new addition of Football Manager Classic. What we have here is a scaled down version of the game within the game. You still take charge of the squad of course, except here certain options will fall under your staff's responsibility. This means you don't have to worry about individual training or team talks. You just pick your team and watch the quick highlights or if you're in a huge rush to get through the season you don't even have to watch the match and can just opt for the result instead. If you're even more strapped for time then you can just opt to play challenge mode, which will give you various scenarios, such as being able to win a trophy in half a season or keeping your team off the bottom of the table.
Want multiplayer? you've got it. Football Manager 2013 now includes a fantastic Network Play feature, allowing you to set up leagues and cups to import your team into. This allows you to see which of your friend's teams is the best and prove once and for all that you are a top manager, even against human opponents.
As far as presentation goes, this is certainly the best game in the series yet. I've already mentioned the fantastic match engine and you'll want to see it. Along with the quality 3D matches comes more realistic stadiums, better player movement, improved ball physics and considering all of this, decent loading times. The menus also look fantastic. As usual, Sports Interactive has done a fantastic job.
It'd be impossible to cram all of the 900 + improvements into this review without making it look like an advertisement, so I won't. You already know if you want to play this game, because chances are you've played a version of it before. All that needs to be said really is that even if you own Football Manager 12, this latest game is a huge step up.
Currently Rangers are doing quite well; we're top of the league, have knocked a few SPL teams out of the cup and are on a 10 game unbeaten run. Injuries could change this situation of course, but that's football and football management. Do you think you can handle it? If so then Football Manager 13 should be considered as the only way to find out.
(Version tested: Mac)
- Fantastic 3D Match Engine
- More options than you can possibly imagine
- The most realistic and feature packed management sim around
- Brilliant presentation
- Can be time consuming
- Databases can be confusing, especially for beginners
- Older machines may struggle with match engine
- Older machines may struggle with match engine