By Chris Schilling
It's that time of year when the leaves turn brown, the air gets chilly, and the ass-shaped groove in
your favourite chair gets a little deeper. Yes, it's almost Football Manager time – and, much like a
new boss cheerfully clutching a wad of petrodollars from an obscenely wealthy overseas backer, this
year's edition arrives promising wholesale changes.
The headlining feature of Football Manager 2013 is a welcome one for those who've grown rather
overwhelmed by the feature creep in recent years. The new Classic mode – or 'FMC' as the press
blurb is keen to refer to it as – cuts out many of the minor responsibilities, allowing you to focus on
the fundamentals. “We decided to try to find a way to accommodate players with limited free time,
without significantly diluting the experience,” says Sports Interactive's Miles Jacobson. SI suggests
that FMC allows players to complete an entire season in 8-10 hours.
Also new in FM13 is a Challenge mode taken from the smartphone versions of last year's game.
There are five challenges in total, each lasting around half a season, and all recreating scenarios
common to the beautiful game: attempting to win trophies with a team of youngsters, for example,
or escaping relegation after footing the table over the festive season. If the mode proves popular, SI
has promised to provide further downloadable challenges throughout the year, which may or may
not include being asked to win the title after losing your star striker to an extended golfing holiday
for two-thirds of the campaign.
Elsewhere, you'll be able to unlock additional modifiers to give yourself a mid-season boost, topping
up your funds during the transfer window, or cutting the red tape that's holding up your expensive
import's work permit. And if all this makes it sound a bit like FM's gone all sports casual on us, fear
not: the main game remains gleefully uncompromising. Says Jacobson: “I would, however, like to
stress to our many, many fans around the world that the introduction of FMC will not impact in
any way on the game that they've come to know and love.” Heck, how many games this year are
promoting 'realistic tax regimes' as a new feature?
Other bits and bobs include a “more televisual” match engine, use of Steam's network functionality,
leaderboards, a new UI and the ability to create a more flexible training regimen. Media interaction
has also been tweaked, offering a range of moods that will hopefully allow you to sulkily send out
your assistant after a battering at home from your nearest rivals, or to nonchalantly dismiss your
team's title hopes when you're ten points clear with three to play. It's out on PC and Mac at some
point before Christmas 2012.