The evolution from Championship Manager to Football Manager has been very complex. Casual footy fans who enjoy managing their own virtual teams in small simple doses became impatient with how diverse the management simulator was getting. It meant they had to dedicate more time, time they didn't have. Thankfully Sports Interactive have listened to the outcry, and now they aim to please both the casual footy fan and the hardcore enthusiast willing to put the time into the experience.
The answer is Football Manager Classic, which is an optional mode for those with limited time. FMC plays just like the vintage Championship Manager and makes it quicker for the player to get match to match without spending 15 minutes prepping for the next game. It's the perfect way for Sports Interactive to deliver balance to this years game. I personally feel as though FMC might be useful, but will end up being much less rewarding. I'm a hardcore Football Manager player, so for the remainder of this review I will only be analyzing the full on Football Manager mode.
From the jump I noticed vital improvements over the last version of the game I owned (2011). Information is much more presentable and easier to navigate. The amount of clicks to find specific information on players has been significantly reduced. Filtering on the Player Search menu makes life much easier, and the relevant player statistics are spread across one page instead of multiple tabs.
As always the level of strategy building is in depth. It's essential you that you know your players when trying to build the best formation. Formations are much easier to manage this year also as the game allows you to save multiple presets which you can switch between during matches.
You will be begin match preparation a week prior to your next match. It's here where paying close attention to detail is crucial if you don't wish to end up fired. Your scouts will bring you an analysis on each team, allowing you to figure out which areas you should be training your team; your assistant provides you with tips on raising team morale, and you must tailor each individual players skills to help them reach their full potential.
The in match visuals have been expanded upon with views that pan around the pitch, giving you a clearer idea of what's going on. The crowds look more immersed than previously, as they respond to what's going on inside the game besides looking like static cardboard cutouts. Refs wear a range of different colours instead of just black like in previous games. Long time players will appreciate the new visual development on FM13 but it doesn't exactly bring the game light years ahead of it's predecessors. Obviously there's only so much you can do with a game based on menus. Just be sure to keep a look out for the flares in the stadium.
Football Manager 13 will definitely satisfy both its core audience and the casual football fanatics wanting to jump in for short bursts. The new navigation menus and search filters are god sent for gamers jumping in from older versions. And the ever going challenge of being the best manager your team has ever seen is as addictive as ever.
At the same time though it's clear that Sports Interactive's commitment to craft a new Football Manager every year stifles the games innovation from game to game. This is unfortunate but not enough to stop FM13 being every bit the Football Manager you need it to be, and with multiplayer and challenge modes included it offers great value for anybody with the itch to try managing a Football Team.
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PC provided by Sega.