The other day I got fired from my role at Sabotage Times. I received an email and the content of it quite simply read "We do not want you to come back into the office anymore." It was an email that contained a Steam download code for Football Manager 2013. The head honchos in the office had decided that as the only single man in the office who's only notable talent is a Rain Man savant recollection of pop culture of the last decade; I had the least to lose from playing Football Manager until 3am in my lucky Superman pants, a wife beater and an eskimo hat.
Now like a lot of fans, I am a former Football Manager addict. I used to spend days at a time holed in a room playing. I had a little notebook with transfer targets, contract details and the like. I’ve made passionate speeches to my laptop promising Saints fans that Southampton will stay in the Championship. I wore football boots and shorts for my triumphant victory in the Johnstone’s Paint trophy with Leyton Orient and I wore my three piece suit in the Champions League final for Newcastle where we beat Liverpool on penalties (I used to turn Newcastle into a Shakhtar Donetsk-type outfit, getting in a crop of talented young Brazilian players who battered European teams on home legs during the bleak North East winters) Between Championship Manager 01/02 to Football Manager 2007, the “glorified database” that is the world’s most addictive game (and cited reason behind 35 divorces) consumed my life and I took it as seriously as real football.
Then came 6th form where I went to a mixed school after 7 years of sociopath boys school living. Between trying to get girls, exams, discovering alcohol and then eventually University (were all three things were simply exacerbated), I kicked the habit. I said to myself that I couldn’t play Football Manager anymore and lead a normal life. It was too addictive, too time consuming. While I admit I had the occasional relapse, I became faced with a new problem many early FM fans faced with new iterations – it had just gotten too complicated. Whereas before you could fool yourself into thinking you were only dipping your toe into the world of Football Manger, recent entries into the series made it painfully clear that this game wanted to ruin your life by sucking you into its world. So I stayed away, occasionally picking up slimmed down portable versions of Football Manger for the PSP or smartphones to get my managerial fix.
Challenge mode drops you into a variety of different scenarios and challenges you to make a success of them.
But now everything has changed once more. Football Manger 2013 is here and it seems hell bent on getting back all of its former fans with “Classic Mode.” The Classic mode scales back a lot of the detail required of the main game, and also in turn makes it more accessible to the newcomer. I both love and hate Miles Jacobson and the rest of the Football Manger team for this; now I don’t have to spend hours filtering out qualifications of prospective new coaches (a new feature of the main game) I’m hooked on FM again. They may as well have named it “So you don’t want to ruin your relationship” mode.
Also new to the PC version is “Challenge Mode”. First appearing on Football Manager Handheld on smartphone last year, Challenge mode drops you into a variety of different scenarios and challenges you to make a success of them. The majority last a period of half a season and you’ll be tasked to do a number of things, such as go a season unbeaten, survive a mass injury crisis or avoid relegation. Some of the Challenges are a lot more interesting than others (I took Liverpool on in a “Interim Manager” challenge role to great success) and with further challenges in the works for download, I think it’s a great new feature to the game.
Classic mode scales back a lot of the detail required of the main game, and also in turn makes it more accessible to the newcomer.
Getting into the main meat of the game and it’s as brilliant as ever. The game looks better than ever, with an option to split screen for the multi-taskers amongst you. Your assistant manager now makes comments mid-game and continues to help out. I know he’s not real, but I now love him like Clough loved Taylor. The 3D matchday engine, while still not at FIFA 13 levels is more realistic, helping make this one of the most immersive matchday experience in any sort of football game out there.
I think the main draw of Football Manager as a game is that it creates a thoroughly believable world that works with or without your involved. Unlike most games, when you “lose” (get the sack) the game doesn’t stop and mope about it – like the real world, life goes on. It teases you with its massive database, it makes you think that if you win the Champions League enough times in a row, your computer will send a message to the FA telling them you should be a candidate for the England job.
You thought you’d kicked the habit. You thought you’d found a woman and a “proper” hobby in Bank Holiday trips to Ikea. But like bumping into an old flame that’s somehow how hotter and more intelligent than ever, yet less high maintenance, your mistress Football Manager is back. I’m not going back into the Sabotage Times office for a long time. I’ve got back to back promotions to gain with Stockport....
You can follow Carl Anka on Twitter @Bubblegum616
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