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Another year goes by, and so, another release of Football Manager to review. Describe the new features, add in a little colour about how addictive it is, name-drop Tonton Zola Mokouko – job done.
Sadly, I'm not going to be able to use the tried-and-tested formula this year as Football Manager 13 is quite unlike any previous edition in the series. While the original game is still there (and yes, don't worry, I'm still planning on describing its new features), this year marks the arrival of Classic mode – a new, streamlined version of the game aimed at lapsed ChampMan enthusiasts.
It's a pretty radical departure for Sports Interactive, what with their unerring focus on adding complexity and depth to the series over the past 10 years. To abandon that now is somewhat surprising – after all fans have been moaning about how complex and time-consuming the game has become for a long time. Perhaps it took this long to give Classic mode the right balance. Or perhaps it took this long for SI to realise that realism at all costs was not necessarily what people want.
Whatever the reason, it was certainly worth the wait. Classic mode is fun in a way the full game hasn't been for some time now, and far from just tempting back those who had given up, I think many who have remained loyal will find their allegiances tested this year.
Strangely, it feels almost like an EA management sim, such is the change in tone and presentation. Classic has a much more attractive, glossy feel than the nuts and bolts of its bigger brother – but still retains the all-important player database and match engine which made Football Manager a genre-defining franchise in the first place.