FIFA Manager usually exists in the shadow of the much more in-depth Football Manager series. Or perhaps it would be better to say that it’s the more accessible and casual simulator around. I mean, to put it into perspective, when I played Football Manager in 2011, it took me about four to five hours just to get into it, and tweak it to what I wanted and come to terms with what exactly I was doing, but in FIFA Manager 13 I probably spent an hour setting up and digging in before I had my first match. It’s more accessible, and provides you with a number of options to quickly configure things rather than doing it all manually. But, I feel as though I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to say about this game, because our review of FIFA Manager 12 pretty much said it all. That’s just the problem though. FIFA Manager 13 brings in some new features, but they don’t make things particularly different, and they definitely aren’t game changers, even if they are interesting. Effectively, this feels like an incremental update.
As such, I’m only going to be focusing on what’s new and what the problems are, in order to be succinct. The largest of the new features is Team Dynamics, which adds a far more human aspect to the game, as you’ll now have to pay close attention to squad relationships, player egos, and the goals of individual players. You’ll have to consider factors such as team hierarchy, rivalries, personality clashes and goals, and manage them as well. Players also have wants and ideas of what their role in the team should be, and you’ll need to manage your players morale even more closely. Within Team Dynamics are two new features called Team Matrix and Hierarchy Pyramid, which lets you assess where players are struggling and what their impact on the team is, and it’s basically your job to manage rivalries, get your players focused and both understand and set player expectations and mindsets.
While you might feel that it’s daunting to have to consider so many more variables in an already complex football simulator, the reality is that FIFA Manager’s slick menus and accessible style makes it relatively straightforward to engage with the new Team Dynamic feature. It’s interesting because it gives the game a more personal touch, and it’s not just about buying the best players but about creating a team that has unity, cohesion and direction. You’ll need a healthy balance of senior leaders in your team as well, to keep it strong and focused, so there are definitely more factors to take into consideration when building your team. I’ll give it that, FIFA Manager 13 does show you more proof that there’s a lot more to being a manager than one might think, and it does a pretty great job of delving into what being a manager is about, and into the inner workings of a club and its squad.
In FIFA Manager 13, the transfer market is still a key part of the experience, and it has received a bit of an expansion. Players will now consider more than 40 criteria when making their decision on whether or not to transfer to a new club, so the process is a lot more complex and involved, and admittedly more varied and unpredictable. You’ll also get a new feature in the menu called Next Season Planner, where you can make adjustments and plans for your future team in a fair amount of detail, as well as analyse the impact of integrating potential newcomers into your current team and how new players will do. It’s a nice little feature that lets you sit back and think rather than jump into the deep end, and it’s a good addition to the game, and one that was probably needed since every action counts.
The player growth system has also been upgraded, and it works together with the improvements to the transfer market. For instance, transfers now take into account the probable development of players in the foreseeable future as well, so a young player rated 72 who may develop to 75 would be more preferable than an old player at 77, which is more realistic and deep. Another example is that players who seem very unlikely to play for the first team will be switched to the reserves in order to gain match practice, and young players nearing the end of their youth will be offered more contracts. Courtesy of FIFA Manager’s YOUR FEATURE promotion, which lets fans vote for new features to be added to the game, two new things have come in as well, namely the Buy Back option and Direct Loaning back. For the former, you can now create a loophole to repurchase players you have sold by agreeing on a buy-back price. As a result you’ll get a lower transfer fee, but if the player develops well at the new club you can reclaim him. The Direct loaning back feature makes it now possible for you to buy players and directly loan them on to their previous club, so you can secure the transfer rights early, but give the player time to develop at his familiar club, and you can push down the transfer fee somewhat.
Some attempts have been made to improve the 3D match simulation, as there are now numerous fan banners shown in stadiums, and fans wear shirts, scarves and jackets to show off team colours. Also, it’s quite seamless to issue tactical orders during a match, and the menu is easy to use and navigate. However, the 3D match engine itself has aged now, and the visuals are pretty awful. This is an issue because last year they were as bad, so now it’s even worse. Animations are robotic and not fluid at all, and it just looks really outdated, which is a pity because many players enjoy watching the actual match and not just resorting to the text simulation, but after a while that’s probably what you may do because the simulations themselves are just in dire need of an upgrade, and are not that great to watch.
FIFA Manager 13 is an all-round good simulator and a decent enough game, and it’s definitely an option if you want something more accessible and casual than the Football Manager series. However, the problem is that its new features don’t really make a world of difference, even if they are interesting, and that makes it difficult to recommend if you own last year’s iteration.