First Impressions – Football Manager 2013

Hi. My names Ben and I’m a recovering addict. For the last 15 years (at least) I have been addicted to playing Football Manger (which some of you may also know in it’s previous guise: Championship Manager). Each year they became more and more complex and added microscopic levels of tinkering ability that even Claudio Ranieri would struggle to keep up with, however, it got to the point where the level of depth has helped me ease away from sinking evening after evening into the latest version of the game as it was just getting too big a gap in managing an actual match and enjoying the fundamentals of the game. Football Manager 2011 was my last real venture into the world created by Sports Interactive and although I was lucky enough to receive a copy of last years game from Al, I managed to resist cracking the proverbial lid on it and saved myself a lot of time falling down that particular hole into Wonderland.

I had absolutely no plan whatsoever to buy this years version until the big release information came out about one item of the main features of FM13; Classic Mode. Hmmm, i thought to myself. As you do. That sounds intriguing, so I went off to understand a little bit more about what “Classic Mode” meant. I was hoping that it would be a veritable dream team of all of the best players to be featured in the previous Football Managers, which, writing that down, actually sounds really awesome. Classic Mode I found out was reverting to a more basic game, the promise came that you could complete a season in a day, unlike the 50 to 60 hours it would normally take me. You don’t have to worry anywhere near as much about training details, scouting details and your assistant manager will go and negotiate any potential player transfers that you highlight to him. The Classic Mode came about from Miles Jacobsen (Sports Interactive Studio Director) hearing stories from people about their Football Manager conquests and glories from years back and these people not playing the game anymore because it had become to complex and time consuming. So they set about creating a mode that’s basically a way to entice back the old blood whilst keeping the new blood happy with the main version.

One of the massive perks of pre-ordering the game is that you receive the beta of the game a couple of weeks before the games official release, that beta (where the save will carry over and work in the full game) arrived 4 days ago and I’m already 14 real life hours into my first season of management and am only about 25% of the way through the season. Hmmm, I type, so it looks like i’ll be spending 60 hours a season playing this game much like I used to. The thing is, that ultimately, it is now my choice how long I spend playing a season. You have an option to not view the match highlights and get an instant result which will cut out a lot of time from the game. Personally I enjoy watching the old school 2D top down view of the players running about so it’s something that i’ll stick with for now despite it’s obvious time sink. I want to feel like it’s something i’ve done whilst the game was going on that’s influenced the outcome of the match as well.

One of the things that is really noticeable in the beta and stands out like a sore thumb is your ability to buy your way to success in Classic Mode (and I believe that it is limited to Classic Mode) using real life money. They are called unlockables and are basically a way for you to get extra transfer money, get a board request granted and a number of other perks (such as becoming unsackable). Some of these perks you can gain by achieving certain milestones in the game but the majority are only obtainable by visiting the in game digital store. This feature isn’t accessible in the beta of the game but it looks like most of the perks will cost from 50p but that £50m of additional transfer allowance will cost you £4.99. If i’m honest i’m not sure what to make of it. I can understand the reasoning behind it as the people playing the Classic Mode will be mainly people whose lives have moved on from when they used to have the time to play more regularly and will no doubt be more than happy to splash the cash on achieving success with the team they support by spending a bit of real life money in order to get themselves a nice shiny stadium or a goalscoring superstar hero in the game.
Another nice new feature, which again unfortunately isn’t working in the beta, is that you can upload your game highlights to youtube. My 92nd minute winner away to Arsenal will be the first thing that gets posted when this feature goes live!

I haven’t even, and don’t plan to, delve into the full game mode this time around, but I will be giving the new “Challenge Mode” a go, where you are given 4 different half season challenges, such as match the invincibles (don’t lose a match all season) or still come in the top 4 despite having a lot of players out injured. A nice touch with the Challenge Mode is that you’re not fixed to one team but you get rewarded more for achieving the Challenge with a lower rated team.

You may have noticed that I haven’t really given any impressions about the actual gameplay itself. It’s one of those sort of games that you know what you’re getting into if you’ve played it before and you’re unlikely to play if you haven’t played it before. If you’re on the brink of jumping in though, based on my first few hours in the game, I cannot recommend enough that now is the time to get involved and that if the Classic Mode becomes an annual feature that I may as well kiss my any semblance of a normal life goodbye!

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