Does the thought of a good spreadsheet get you going?
I knew what I was in for with Football Manager. I expected a top-level simulation of a football team, I expected to change up a few of my team’s tactics, trade a few players, and to watch as my team played out a match against another team of little dots on a field. Football Manager 2013 is all of this, and more.
Football Manager 2013 largely takes place in menus and charts. This is a game about making just about every possible choice that a manager would encounter while working in the service of a football team, right down to what will happen while said manager is on vacation. To state what is made obvious by the screenshots included, the payoff from Football Manager doesn’t come from watching a flashy game play out on screen. Players are rewarded for their manipulation of team configurations and statistics in light of available information, and the reward is the satisfaction in a team well managed. If balancing a spreadsheet doesn’t sound fun to you, more specifically a laundry list of all comings and goings of a football team, then you won’t want to play Football Manager.
Peering down into the depths of Football Manager 2013, I could initially only pretend to understand the myriad of interactions and options. While there are hints each time a new menu is opened up, it takes time to grow accustomed to all of the happenings within the game. This isn’t the best game for newcomers to football management sims, let alone newcomers to football.
I say this for a few reasons. FM 2013 doesn’t teach one much about the game of football (nor should it have to), or why one formation may be better than the next, nor does it truly explain many of the included options. Some games force learning through failure, but I found that even this method of mastery was difficult in FM 2013 because the game itself is easy. Playing through a career offers up little resistance, and little opportunity to learn. The game does include a challenge mode- which is where I usually spend a good portion of time in most strategy titles. I like that these alternate scenarios were included with the game, but they look awfully similar to those from FM 2012 (as do many superficial elements of the game).
Football Manager 2013 attempts to introduce a human element via the in-game email system, however emails are not an engine for conversation in the game, but rather a way to inform the player of conflicts arising that concern his club. I didn’t feel involved in any of the drama surrounding my players, and for this reason most of the exciting parts about being a manager of anything aren’t here. While a big part of management is bookkeeping, an equal if not greater part is working with people. Without that element, I feel that FM 2013 restricts its audience to football enthusiasts that wish they had a more behind the scenes level of interaction with their FIFA game.
The level of interaction required is minimal when compared to the vast array of options the game provides, and there is little excitement outside of watching your matches play out seconds at a time. Then again, there will be some who get an adrenaline rush out of making smart management decisions even if the game doesn’t pat the player on the back. For these players, Football Manager will be much more than a system optimization title.
Football Manager is available for £6.99 as a Universal App.