FIFA Manager 13 – PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Sports
Release Date: Oct 26, 2012
Genre: Sports
Reviewed by David Hillyer

Review Score: 4 of 5

Since 2002 EA has pretty much kept a little secret from US soccer fans. The FIFA Soccer series has always been one of the top selling games for EA. But few people have ever heard about its little brother for stat-heads, FIFA Manager 13. You’ll likely never find it a store shelf, but thanks to easy downloads from Origin, every statistic loving soccer fan can live out their dream of managing their own club.

This is kind of a niche market after all. You’ll never find a statistics soccer game on a Wal-Mart shelf, or any other retailer’s shelf in the USA. But these games have been out for quite a while. There are all kinds of sports simulators to appeal to those who love numbers and order. EA’s only real soccer competition comes from very popular Sports Interactive’s Football Manager 2013 (distributed by Sega). But they are a big competitor.

EA of course has the money to buy licenses. Lots of them. FIFA Manager 13 has even more than FIFA 13. For USA soccer fans that’s a big deal. FIFA 13 only includes Major League Soccer. But FIFA Manager 13 also has the NASL (the resurrected North American Soccer League) and USL Pro (the United Soccer League’s top division). Well sort of. While MLS is a full license with team logos, the NASL and USL Pro are there in name only. The teams are just various city names and generic logos.

FIFA Manager 13 has quite a few improvements over last year. The team analysis feature “Team Matrix” as well as a player hierarchy pyramid allows you to see which players are having issues in the team pecking order. In the team dynamics section you see an overview of team hierarchy, rivalry, personality clashes, personal goals, family relationships and much more.

Your assistant manager helps you to analyze the team, and requesting a psychological profile of a player before signing him might help avoid future problems. The assistant manager is also vital to those of you who don’t want to get too deeply involved in the minutia of player problems and other team issues.

New individual player objectives have a special role, and your team will be successful only with enough team leaders and everyone pulling in the same direction. Balancing player rivalries and spending enough time understanding and setting player expectations, are critical to your team success.

Also every player of the team has his own personal objectives. Some players want to become a first team regular, others want to play for their country, some simply want to improve their skills, whilst others want to be captain or take the penalties etc. The status of these objectives has big influence on the player’s morale and as manager you must try to keep your players happy or you’ll start to lose games and maybe even your job.

You can head problems off at the pass though because now you can talk to a player to change his expectations or help give him new objectives. Also there are specific new talks for many situations, so when you want a player gone for whatever reason, you can convince him to accept a loan deal, go to the reserve team or even sell him to another team.

The positional level has been removed from the game. The general quality of a player is now calculated with a formula that includes the skill levels and the player type. This makes sure only the relevant skills determine the general level of a player. I found the player ratings to be slightly more accurate than ratings than the console version of FIFA 13 for English Premier League teams, but MLS ratings are less so. That’s fairly understandable since FIFA Manager 13 really isn’t marketed to the USA fans.

The support of different screen resolutions has improved. There is a minimum of 1024×768 for those playing on laptop computers. The maximum is now up to 1920 x 1200 so you can fit a ton of information on screen. The increased resolution is great, but there still is no support for multiple monitors. When you play FIFA Manager 13 in full screen mode on one monitor is seizes ownership of your mouse so you can’t move it to the other screen. It really puts a damper on things if you like to take notes while you play. In my case it made it more difficult to write this review!

The new quick access menu bar allows you to select as many menu items as you like. You can then directly reach the relevant menu item with one click. Every item also shows and also flags potential problems.

The new half-time feature gives you more control with detailed player speeches and new team speeches. You also have options to boost the energy of a player by a massage or to offer players with minor injuries medical treatment. You’ll get direct feedback on your decisions and the new Assistant option to delegate your work.

The tactical settings now have more precise definition. You used to get up to 6 settings, but now you can basically select probabilities for short versus long passing, the playing direction, the position of the defensive line, or the height of crosses. Crosses into the penalty area have been greatly improved and the headers are now more realistic. There a also a bunch of new fan banners in the stadiums to create a more authentic atmosphere, and the fans now show their colors with shirts, scarves and jackets.

There are also quite a few improvements that were suggested by the fans of the game last season. Improvements include:

  • Option to control the penalty taker
  • Option to select the penalty takers before a shoot-out
  • Option to send all players to warm-up at once
  • Special commentaries on fan behavior
  • Weather changes
  • Live ticker to allow for manager to shout directions
  • New injury time calculation and comments
  • Step-by-step text mode

Additionally, you get set up a plan for your club for next season. You can select current squad players, players in negotiations with your club and players who are just on your scouting short list. Then you can try out various combinations to explore the impact they could have on your team and to directly start negotiations in case you want to really sign a player.

Upcoming events is another tool is a new screen that lists all upcoming events and improvements such as important matches; important transfer market dates; completion dates of stadium elements, club facilities, and youth camps; required points for a personal promotion; changes in the all-time tables; experience gains of players and many more. This allows you to take immediate action or to set reminders for when further steps are needed.

The player development tool allows predicting the career path of players depending on parameters like injuries, matches played, other positions, natural talent etc. It’s a very helpful tool to make sure a player can really help the team long-term.

But is FIFA Manager 13 fun to play? With this and all other simulation genre games, it is an acquired taste. It takes a significant investment of time to build a quality team that will have a successful legacy. This is certainly not the game for those who want to win after a few minor tweaks. You have to be willing to stick with it and build a team. With FIFA Manager 13 there are a huge number of items that contribute to the health of the club – from picking souvenirs and selling prices to which type of player to bring up from the youth academy. It can be tedious; very tedious, but finally getting a team to work well together and win… that has a certain feeling that is more satisfying than a quick Call of Duty game. Well kind of. It’s different.

FIFA Manager 13 isn’t a huge leap from last season. Die hard players from last year might even be a little disappointed at first glance, but the subtle improvements are there if you look. EA has listened to the users and tweaked enough items to peak my interest. If you love manipulating statistics, there is nothing better than a good sim game and FIFA Manager 13 fills that role quite well.