Football Manager 2013 - Confessions of an Armchair Gaffer
I cannot hide it: despite my recent forays into anime, cosplay and anisong, football is and has always been my greatest passion ever since I first kicked a ball. Players, managers, teams, tactics - any topic about football and my senses light up with immense knowledge and passion, and the Football Manager series has contributed a fair share in them. Thus, when anibee approached me to review the latest edition of the series that is Football Manager 2013, the fires of passion caused a dynamite explosion in my footballing heart, long dormant since I last played a football match as an amateur player.
Just for starters, Football Manager is a series of games developed by Sports Interactive and published by Sega in which you, the player, get a simulated chance to become a manager of a football club and/or a national team. The footballing aspects of the club you choose, from the first-team squad to the youth setup, will then be at your mercy - you can buy players or sell them off, reorganise the coaching staff, send scouts all over the regions for the next hot prospect, control team tactics, et cetera - as you lead the club to glory (or if you hate the club you are managing, drag them to ruins). Other than player databases and transfer updates, each game in the series is updated from the last in terms of game mechanics and interfaces to suit a more simulative feel of hands-on approaches to the aspect of football management.
Having played previous instalments of Football Manager (my most recent game being Football Manager 2011), the new interface is something I needed to get used to as soon as possible, though the features that served me well in Football Manager 2011 still remain, such as coach reports on player abilities. Some features in previous game instalments, however, have undergone between a facelift and a full-on makeover; team training features are now more generalised for all players regardless of positions, with emphasis on training focus towards aspects such as ball control, tactics and team cohesion, and in addition, players can be asked to train preferred positions without the need to hold private chats with players. Also a new feature that I observed is the addition of staff roles such as Reserves and Under-18 Managers, in which a particular coach takes charge of the reserve and youth squads respectively on a full-time basis, Chief Scouts, Head Physios and even a Director of Football, though a manager hiring a Director of Football is pretty much akin to hiring one's own boss, which is really funny if you think about it!
With that said about the gameplay, Football Manager 2013 also offers various other game modes, such as Football Manager Classic, Challenge and Versus modes. Football Manager Classic feels a little restrictive to me, considering that it is only the Football Manager mode in a different skin and watered-down features, with only up to 3 leagues around the world that can be simulated. The Challenge mode, though, offers 4 scenarios where the club of your choice is either embroiled in a relegation battle (never play your beloved team in this scenario, it's a heart-wrenching nightmare), ravaged by injuries to most of your first-teamers, in the midst of an unbeaten run or has just promoted some of their youth players into the first team. Keep in mind, though, that the Challenge mode uses the same interface as Football Manager Classic mode.The Versus mode is more straightforward - export your best team in your saved game and take on your friends online in a managerial battle of wits, tactics and football.
After having a brief taste of Football Manager 2013, what I can say about the new features and revamped existing ones is that, while it gives players a more simulative feel of being a football manager, certain features such as team training felt a little restrictive, particularly team training with its focus-based approach as I preferred a position-based style of team training, with training schedules and focus specifically catered to different players in different positions. However, not that I'm complaining as I would get used to it eventually.
As for the different modes, I would suggest the full mode over the classic mode as it gives players a better feel of the managerial hot seat in the club, though the Challenge mode gives FM players a chance to take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn the fortunes around. On a more positive note, the full game is a vast improvement from the past instalments of the series, and I truly recommend this game to the lovers of the beautiful game.
On a final word, I am a big fan of the Football Manager series myself, and I have the tendency to stay up all night just to clear a big chunk of one in-game season, so when Football Manager 2013 launches on the 2nd of November and I roam around like a living zombie with a lack of sleep, you know why.
Special thanks to SEGA & New Era Entertainment!