FIFA Manager 13 Review (PC)

Edgware Town F.C. was officially dissolved in 2008. Little did the people of the North West London suburb know it was only a temporary decision. On Thursday 17th October 2012 the club was resurrected by unmarried philanthropist, Marco Fiori. Its home, the Edgware Lidl, would seat 1,800 hungry fans. A fresh kit, based on Fiori’s favourite team Chelsea, would be adorned with the new logo – a rudimentarily designed patch akin to something a toddler would make.

Everything was intricately planned. The sponsorship was agreed. The team inaugurated the evening of the 18th. The league populated by real part-timer clubs. It was on.

Peter White is as delusional as Tottenham’s real manager.

The above is one possible narrative with FIFA Manager 13’s Create-a-Club mode. The very inclusion of a fantasy mode like this shows how EA’s latest attempt at football management wants to be interpreted. Fantasy is important in football. You have to believe.

The same applies to football management games. They come in two forms – the spreadsheet, dry but faithful kind (i.e. FIFA Manager’s nearest Sports Interactive rival. The only mention of Football Manager there will be in this review)) or the more glossy, exciting option which foregoes statistical perfection for the glamour of the world’s favourite sport.

Successful Goals

The latter is FIFA Manager 13. That’s not to say it’s lacking detail. In fact, it’s often overwhelmingly comprehensive. Thankfully your level of simulation can be tailored according to your preferred play style.

Enjoy the Manchester City pick-and-mix style dream team approach? Sure, load up the Arab-backed club. How about the glitz and glamour with mansions, model WAG (footballer’s wife and/or girlfriend), supercars and investments on the stock market? Enable the personal life option. You might even see yourself as the manager, player and Director of Football all rolled into one. That’s possible, as is controlling every single financial decision at a club.

It’s all there: enough officially licensed clubs to make your head spin; tweaking to make Sky Sports look amateur; and a 3D match engine that pulls you into the action like no other management title on the market. FIFA Manager 13 is the game you want it to be and most of the time, it gets its execution near-perfect.

Avoid being overwhelmed, I dare you.

The biggest potential pitfall is its presentation. It’s not the depth which is an issue, it’s how the information is given to the player. By opting for the EA way, you’re given desk widgets, decorations, unlockable upgrades, charts, graphs, numbers, stats and everything in-between.

Sometimes you just want to focus on your team, what their skills are and how they play. Whether they’re brothers with someone, unhappy with their current development objectives or need 18 more experience points to improve is irrelevant. It seems the information you need is always on another page. Clarity isn’t FIFA Manager 13’s strongest point and by packing so much in, it sometimes loses its way a little.

Once you do get used to its way of doing things, it becomes easier (that said, scouting is hard to get your head around and a lot of the game’s information is unnecessary for casual players). With the techno music pumping, it can get a bit tiresome so it’s definitely advised you switch to your own musical selection.

Screaming Through the Net

Anyway, what else? Once you’ve battled through video announcing the start of a season, addressed your team as well as your tactics, you can move onto a match (after you’ve dealt with another ten notifications).

There’s no denying it – FIFA Manager 13 can do virtual football. For the lower skilled players, it can look a bit off, but the higher you move up the leagues, the better it is. With shouts (make a run, shoot, clear, etc.), you have indirect control over your players, but most of the time you’re simply influencing, tweaking sliders for their commitment, tactical bias, tackling, and so on.
Kings of Europe.

Everything is easy to adjust in real time which leaves you time to watch the action and compile your notes for your team talk mid/post match. The default speed is slow, but there’s a handy feature to speed up the action until it reaches the final third. This lets you avoid the back and forth play in the centre of the park and watch the attacking football. Obviously there’s the option to revert to highlights/goals only, as well as text highlights and an instant result.

Post Season Blues

So after you’ve won your friendlies, it becomes apparent you need to spend some money to bolster your squad. One of the best things about FIFA Manager (and this applies to sponsorship) is the real-time contracts where you throw terms at each other, carefully balancing the mood of the individual involved, until you’re both happy.

Do you reduce the base salary, but up the match bonuses? How about the length of the contract? You have to bear in mind the player’s preferences and make sure you don’t end up with an overly expensive contract or even worse, a bungled deal. This makes you feel as though you’re dealing with a real player rather than a collection of numbers.

And when that’s done, there’s always something else to look at, especially if you’ve opted to control financial matters yourself. Aim to float on the stock exchange, create your new line of merchandising, organise public transport for supporters, prepare a print-run of cheap programmes, blow the club’s infrastructure budget on a new operations centre complete with Marketing Manager and Public Relations executive.

Hopefully you can see the scale FIFA Manager has on offer. From tiny detail to humongous overarching concept, it’s flexible to the nth degree.

Do you think EA jumped the gun with this selection?

However, I hear you asking one question; the most important one of them all. Is it better than Football Manager (OK, I mentioned it again) and should I buy FIFA Manager 13? It all depends. That question alone with no context is flawed. This is a game for fans of the essence of football. FIFA Manager 13 is a completely different game to its rival. It is for those who revel in the gossip of the beautiful game, the untold stories and the what-if’s.

It’s by no means perfect, but for the first time in a long while, it seems as though there’s a real alternative for those bored of the droll presentation of Sports Interactive. There’s room for both, and FIFA Manager 13 holds its own in every department. If you can cope with the EA gloss, then you’ll find a convincing simulation and most importantly, an excellent football game.

Top Gaming Moment: Seeing your dream club come to life in Create-a-Club.

Game advertisements by <a href="" target="_blank">Game Advertising Online</a> require iframes.