FM freshens things up with a few new additions to help stay on top of the pile at Christmas
Football Manager Handheld 2013 Review
by Michael Sawh on December 24, 2012
Lovers of the beautiful game have been a spoilt bunch this year with the arrivals of New Star Soccer and Fluid Football offering great alternatives to EA Sports’ annual FIFA installment, and making its way out before the end of the year FM Handheld 2013 is hoping to fill those gaps in between gorging on another busy festive football schedule.
Available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android devices, Sports Interactive once again attempts to appease hardcore fans by offering an improved game engine and more management control through a 30-season long Career mode while trying to entice casual FM players with features like Challenge mode introduced in FM Handheld 2011 to help give it that pick-up-and-play feel.
In terms of looks, FM Handheld 2013 doesn’t shy too far away from last year’s game but does notably add player photos for licensed leagues which unfortunately doesn’t include the Premier League. Player pics aside, you can expect the same menu screens with useful shortcuts that make it easy to get around on an iPhone or an iPad.
Irish football fans will be happy to hear that Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland leagues are now playable while a new Hot and Cold list let’s you see a snapshot of the players in the best (and worst) form. The ability to promote youth players up into the senior side adds another dimension to managerial proceedings and can come in handy when you are working with a small squad or the board has tightened the purse strings.
The biggest and most useful new feature though is the dedicated player comparison section. Unlike FM Handheld 2012 where you had to jump between screens, you can put potential transfer targets up against each other or current members of the squad on one screen and for those that take pride in finding the perfect player this is a welcome addition.
For some FM players, scouting is a big part of the experience and you can now send scouts out abroad to help unearth a gem and get him to sign on the dotted line for next to nothing. In our experience using it over a few seasons, while it was quite useful locating players in the UK and Europe, venturing further afield generally didn’t generate great results or was able to identify a large of list of players.
Heading into familiar match day surroundings and once you’ve selected your squad and starting eleven you’ll be able tinker more freely with players into custom formations which wasn’t the case in FM 2012. As well as the usual general team instructions, you can apply individual player tactical roles letting you choose whether one of your forwards plays deeper or does his work in the box. Disappointingly though there is no option to assign a player to carry out a particular job on a player on the opposing team like man marking a creative midfielder for instance, which would have been a nice touch.
One of the main criticisms leveled at FM Handheld 2012 was that tactics and formations did not really like they had always had an impact on the result of a match. It’s clear that this is something Sega and Sports Interactive has tried to address making the game engine more in tune with managerial decisions before and during the game as well taking current conditioning and mood of players into consideration. Not all tweaks are instantly noticeable, but the longer you play, the more you will realise that this is an area that has been improved.
FM Handheld enters new territory with the introduction of in-app purchases which allows you to buy extra Challenge modes like ‘You can’t win anything with kids’ and unlockables which include having a mega rich chairman or the ability to expand your stadium to increase profits. Achievements can also be earned and can change the way the game develops each season by removing loan restrictions or having immunity from getting the sack. Some will no doubt be irked by having to fork out more money having spent almost £7 already, but you can still enjoy the game without them and not feel like you are massively missing out.
Football Manager Handheld 2013 is proof once again that the mobile version of the management sim is evolving nicely into a game that will reward you whether you decide to invest hours (as we did) or just twenty minutes playing during your lunch break. Serious sessions will sap the life out of your iPhone battery while we would have loved the ability to play the same game across multiple devices, but with the refinements made to the game engine and addition of a dedicated player comparison tab, FM remains the best and most enjoyable football management game you can play on your iPhone.
Buy It Now: Download Football Manager Handheld 2013 iPhone app