Football Manager is THE game for footy fans, it’s been around for years now and accumulating players along the way to a point where there is an estimated 3 million players in the UK alone.
Because of it’s success there is always going to be a big following for reviews, information and hints about it and thats where we come in. The aim of this article is to be honest, analytical and authoritative while we dissect the in’s and out’s of the game.
Below we have interviewed a mix of experts on Football Manager, these are everyone from die-hard players with decades of experience to bloggers, gamers and complete novices of the game to understand exactly what makes it such a success, equally what its failings are and constructive criticism for the makers themselves on how they can change and evolve these opinions.
Let’s get cracking, firstly lets look at what everyone is currently saying (honestly or being bias) about the game.
What’s the general consensus for Football Manager 13?
The Guardian Games Blog had this to say:
Without the amount of new modes and improvements on offer, Football Manager 13 is a pretty astonishing package. It will, though, be interesting to see what form next year’s release will take. If Classic mode proves popular, it won’t be bundled in with the main game for long – and I fear for the longevity of the full-featured mode should they end up being competing releases. For now though, Football Manager 13 at last offers the chance to play the game at a level of intensity you’re comfortable with – and even Tonton Zola Mokouko would agree that that’s a great thing.
My thoughts on their review: Basically the Guardian’s review is pretty ‘normal’, the only negative points they highlight are to do with its look and feel and not really to ‘deep’.
GamesReviews.com gave it 8/10 overall:
Football Manager 2013 is another solid instalment in the now established game series. Experienced fans of the franchise should take to it like a fish to water. Newcomers may find that they take to it more like a fish to a frying pan. Football Manager may have a steep learning curve, but if you’re a big enough football fan like me, then it does feel rewarding to put in the required hours to win that first trophy. And thankfully, it’s also a game where you can adjust the level of challenge to suit your level of competence.
My thoughts on their review: Similar style to the Guardian review really, fairly un-constructive and doesn’t really offer us anything new.
Gamespot.com had this to say for themselves while also giving it an 8/10:
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.
My thoughts on their review: A much better insight, they make a few good points but I feel they are still holding back or are less than ‘experienced’ with the game.
Last but not least we have a review from FM Scout, possibly the most respected ‘unofficial’ site around:
There are some flaws however such as when you’re giving your reaction at halftime, some options might be shown twice or that the sound of the game might keep playing even when the game is over but these are well known bugs which as mentioned, Sports Interactive will take care off when the release of the full game is due. One other thing which annoyed me was in game, players choose to pass back to the goalkeeper on more than one occasion when there are better options sideways or up front.
All in all, FM13 is a step up – it will take some time to get used to the new layout but it’s still enjoyable and as addictive as ever; here’s to another year of sleepless night and work/classes being missed.
My thoughts on their review: Disappointing FM Scout, they picked up on some minor flaws and seemed to avoid some of the more pressing issues with the game.
My ‘controversial’ opinion
I spent a couple of hours searching around reviews on top gaming and lower end blogging websites reading FM reviews and quite honestly I am disappointed a combination of trying to be neutral, lack of time actually playing the game and lack of ‘knowledge’ of the real gamer seems to have slipped through the reviews so far and I want to put that right.
Its been more than 6 months now since the game came out and looking back through my saved games I have spent more than 30 seasons playing FM 13 so now is time to talk about it.
Football Manager 2013 is a backward step, its worse than 2012 but before you slate me 2012 was by far the best version yet so it was always going to be hard to beat. For me the main problem with the game is SI’s lack of forward progression or recognition of what gamers have been looking for for a few years now.
I won’t sit here (lay) and type this without some meat to put on the bones so let me explain why…
As I mentioned earlier the issues with this FM, for me anyway, are mainly to do with the lack of forward movement, complications and faults with fundamental elements of the game that should have been fixed a while ago, IMO.
An example of that has to be the sublime to the ridiculous, best Goalkeeper in the world missing a slow pass-back for example, winning 20 games in a row then losing at home to a team 3 divisions below you in the cup is another, its infuriating and completely irrational.
But these are obviously just ‘tweaks’ really but there are other more obvious technical things that should be happening already in a game as complex as FM, for example customisable formations, team talks that are not monotonous & repetitive and team meetings that make no real sense whatsoever.
Even more obvious than this is the completely moronic signings that some teams make as well as why some players are unstoppable on the game with stats that don’t give any rationale for it, Oliver Giroud for example.
Anyway, you have seen enough of my negativity so lets balance it out by saying Football Manager 13 is great, its only its exceptionally high standards that make it not the best one ever-made in my opinion.
Interviews with ‘real’ experts
Football Manager experts are not the people who review it the day it came out, they are not the people who have an incentive to say its good, they are me and you, the people who play it for days, weeks and months and only stop when the next one comes out. For that reason I have lined up 6 experts and veterans of the game, some are people like you and me, some are anonymous journalists who have given us their real opinion and others are bloggers and forum owners from around the web. There are 3 below at the moment, look out for another one being added each week for the next 3.
Ok… Not the best word to start a review with I admit, yet it does kind of sum up this FM perfectly. Meh and oh, would have also been adequate, which is also acceptable… I could go on!
FM13 is still a management game which allows you to buy players and build a team, but does it still allow you to manage?
This FM has had so many documented problems; starting from the god awful match engine presented in the beta, only truly fixed to par in the January patch. Too the incredible amounts of money many CPU teams seem to pay for very average players, combined with some downright insulting offers for your own top stars. Yet I am willing to forgive all this, as for me, FM13′s biggest sin is the lack of control given to the human player.
This FM is happy to make you jump through hoops, making you attend endless press conferences which yes, does reflect real life but has about as much effect on the match result as giving a substitute a team talk! Training has been revamped to specialise the team in a specific area, which aesthetically is much more pleasing and a lot less complex than the old system. Yet training ‘Def Set Pieces’ on maximum for an entire season and then seeing 40% of your goals conceded resulted from a set piece shows the game has little substance. Adding to this, watching your team dominate for long spells only for the highlights to cut to a magical corner for the opposition, and all of a sudden you’re losing. If this was a fleeting occurrence in the game I could understand but it’s not! Its consistent reoccurrence only backs up the profligacy of match training.
This leads me to the black heart its self, FM’s game killer. The match structure. Over the past few years FM has moved from the classic tactics to a more complex yet user friendly system with player roles and match sliders. Whilst these simplify the game they do not on the whole make sense. Since this is an explanation longer than I have words to write, I’ll use an example. FM’s in game prompts state the Counter Strategy works best with a quick/ direct style… Yet when switching to the Counter strategy on the tactics screen the slider moves closer to a slow tempo… The game here seems to contradict its own advice.
Game time is also becoming increasingly frustrating, with ‘Key’ highlights clearly providing insufficient time to implement those tactical changes that might get you the win. The best shot at success seems to stem from the full match highlights option. However these take so long, it would possibly be quicker to gain a FIFA Pro licence and manage a team to the title in real life than it would to do so on FM. If it’s realism you want that’s the way to go.
Shouts have been a great addition to FM, allowing multiple slider changes to be achieved in one simple click. Sadly though, as soon as you edit a position tactically these shouts become useless, e.g. If you have increased the teams long shots via the sliders, the ‘work ball in to box’ shout becomes ineffective. Just an FYI SI, sometimes I want to time waste without camping all my players in my own half, please don’t make me move to Contain to do so. Add a shout!
There also seems to be no reasoning or indication from the game as to when an Attack/ Counter etc strategy is optimal pre-match… Except one. A rule of thumb among the forums suggests looking at the pre game odds, if they favour you, Attack. If not, Counter… I’m not sure how ‘real life’ this makes the game, but I’d prefer some user influence on the result, or at least something based upon football, not pre-determined computer settings.
Team talks… I’ll be brief, if I’m winning 2-0 at HT and my entire team go green and show, “fired up” why did I draw 2-2? If I’m losing 1-0 and my team talk turns the team green with “Seems Motivated/ Fired up) Why do I lose 3-0? Again these are not one off occurrences, it’s not the losing that is frustrating, it’s the game feeding the human player miss-information. Telling us we are doing something correctly when it is clearly not the case. So, I ask again, are we still allowed to manage?
Whilst I have completely bashed FM here it is still an updated version of the game we all love with all the players at the correct clubs and teams in their new leagues…. So, credit for writing your name; I guess.
Did I miss anything? Oh FM classic… Who wants to pay for a whole game and only play half of it? Go swivel SI, you insult me.
I once went on a date with a women who said that she had been divorced and that one of the reasons she divorced her husband was because he spent more time playing football manager (then 2012) rather than spend time with her. This got me thinking, how many divorce cases have citied FM to being the reason why – turns out 35 within the UK. So, with the release of FM13, could this rate be set to raise or fall, let’s have a look.
As with all FM releases, comes tweaks and ‘improvements’. So, just for you, the readers, I have spent many a nights playing FM13 in-order to write this review (I hope you feel privileged!). The concept of the game hasn’t really changed, its still to try and be the best manager around while taking the ‘Wenger’ approach of trying to find the next big thing from the clothes factories of Asia.
To help you achieve this goal, there has been the new addition of being able to appoint a Director of Football (DoF) at your club. The beauty of the DoF role is that you can either leave him to sign who he thinks is best, or you can add players to a ‘transfer target’ list and let him make contact, agree fees and tie up contracts ready for you to sign on the dotted line. You can even add your own players to your ‘Unwanted List’ for the DoF to find new clubs for.
Another good new addition to the game is that you can get a lot more involved on transfer deadline day, which every football fan around knows is the best day of the season. Taking part in transfer deadline day is optional though so for all you Everton fans out there, you can opt out just like in real life! This feature sees a new yellow banner placed at the top of your pages and counts down time remaining of the window. You also get more time to go out and sign that star striker that you have been missing (meaning Peter Odemwingie can enter your club through the front door instead of the side window).
There has also been an overhaul of the training pages; it has been simplified and easier on the eye. You also get plenty more opportunity to get involved with the press if you like speaking to them and also not forgetting the new ‘Challenge’ scenarios that you can be dropped into and prove that you CAN win things with kids (probably getting a nice nickname at the same time aswell!).
Going forward, one area I would like vastly improved is the ability to be able to improve your ground. To be able to make it the most intimidating place teams do not want to come to. Not just being able to make a ground improvement suggestion to the board, but actually choose the new design of your stand/stadium, the addition of under soil heating and also the quality of it. Who your shirt sponsor should be, bill boards around the ground, maybe even choose your own shirt design for the new season ahead.
Food for thought! Maybe with the above additions to FM14, SI will be responsible for many more divorces in 2014.
My thoughts on their review: JW hit the nail on the head really and reading between the lines you can sense his frustration at the ‘randomness’ that exists in FM 13. I love his idea of delivering a more customisable stadium, sponsors and advertising though!
DF is an internet blogger and editor of one of the top technology review websites:
In my opinion SI are really milking the FM franchise now, its seems like they make just enough ‘tweaks’ for every version to be a success and to build anticipation before launch but not enough to really satisfy the die hard gamers amongst us and their want for a more ‘logical’ game.
This situation reminds me of the Halo franchise, all the new developers of Halo 4 had to do to make the game a legendary success was to take Halo 3, improve the graphics, add a few guns, few maps and add a new campaign but no, they had to try and make it more mainstream, appeal to the COD players and casual gamers.
I would love to see the difference in revenue number between Halo 4 selling more copies but no add-ons longterm compared to selling to a die hard set of Halo fans who will buy every single additional available as well as the next games for life.
SI need to encapsulate the die hard gamers as these people are the bread and butter of the franchise, these are the people that will buy the game every year without fail but I, like several of my friends, am thinking about not even buying the 2014 version and let me tell you why.
The sheer amount of diabolical and unexplainable mistakes, signings and results is abysmal and frustrating. It doesn’t matter how many of the best players in the world you have in your Chelsea team, at home to Ipswich is more likely to cause an upset than away to Real Madrid, what?.
The other problem in my eyes is the lack of ‘reasoning behind the depth’, what I mean behind that is I love the match training, love the recommendations from scouts and coaches but what quantitative benefit do they really have apart form moving that little bar up a notch or two with every pre-game friendly? I want more info on scout reports, for example if you say he is injury prone, give me some data on what and when he was injured, how long he was out etc available on the report. Also, please tell me that the player’s agent is a money grabbing git and will want £5m in fee’s as part of the deal as I have no real relationship between that figure and its effect on my budgets.
Anyway, I like FM but I really want to like it more. I get very frustrated by single, ridiculous results and stupid things that happen in the game that I often go months without switching the game on. Sort it out SI!
My thoughts on their review: For me the problem with DF’s quote isn’t the content its the fact that he was unable to display his thoughts on his own website because he might upset a sponsorship deal or two. Why can’t we, as gamers and as the people who line these corporations pockets be told the truth?
The third review is from Tom, a journalist for a mainstream newspaper and a player of FM for the first time.
Knowing about the FM franchise for a while now I took the plunge and bought Football Manager 13 about a month after its release and I love it, I don’t know what I did without it for all these years.
The classic mode is my game of choice though, the ‘main’ game is too complex for me, takes too long to load and get through a season but I can see why people will prefer that over the classic mode.
I can see why people have been addicted to this game for a long time but I have really been struggling with the consistency of results, it almost seems that my team’s form is dependant on how long its been since I turned my laptop off rather than real metrics. If I’m on a bad run, I just do a computer restart and I’m back in business, winning games, it makes no sense at all sometimes.
My thoughts on their review: Tom is a new-be to the game and prefers the classic version which is supposed to be the ‘bit’ that attracts and keeps the casual gamer or those looking for a quicker and less complex game.
So whats the ‘real’ word on the street?
Theres a mix of views here but the general consensus amongst real experts of FM is that there is a lot missing, a lot wrong and a lot that should be included but isn’t in the game. But the main, underlying issue that everyone has pointed out so far is the randomness of the game.
Case in point this morning, I was playing an FM save with my Arsenal team (only signing English players, great game) but my keep in the first season is still ‘Chesney’ and in the first minute of the game one of my players passes it back to him nice and slow towards the edge of the box, he misses it, falls over and the ball goes straight in the net! WTF? Not to mention the fact that I have conceded a penalty in every game in the league so far, 8 straight games with a penalty!
What is with the inconsistencies? Why the need for such awful displays of mistakes? For me, thats the whole problem, it breeds frustration which breeds inconsistency which in turn breeds players who are no longer die-hard fans.
There is plenty that can be done to change my opinion and most importantly make the game more long term, check out our features wish list for FM 14.
If you have an opinion, give us a nudge on the comments section below.