FIFA's career mode has always felt a little monotonous. Many of the mode's features pass idly by as you sift through match-after-match, ignoring news bulletins detailing the latest transfer rumours, skipping important emails from the suits upstairs. The time spent in menu screens felt like delays between the next game.
FIFA 13 has placed more importance on the time you spend between matches, with more hype built in and around game-day to create the feel of "Soccer Saturday". Negotiating transfers, reading newsflashes, interacting with players, agents and the board, now has relevance. Instead of the latest news just rolling past in loading screens, match reports and fan reaction will also flash on-screen. Are you not performing as well the board and fans expect? The newspapers will claim your job is on the line, and don't think you have until the end of the season to turn things around, managers can now be sacked mid-season.
Instead of having to scroll through menus to check how your local rivals performed over the weekend, they will now be read out to you in the "classified results". The Career Mode menu screens now feel more active, with EA seeming to try and recreate your favourite Saturday afternoon sports show. Even during a match, Martin Tyler will hand over to Alan McInally for the latest scores from around the league.
Diving into the career as Manchester City, with £100,000,000 ready to spend on new players, I was ready to defend the Premier League crown. My first objective, spending the transfer kitty. I started with a mere £28 million investment in Robin Van Persie, after a few negotiations with Mr. Wenger himself, we came to the, admittedly costly sum and RVP was wearing sky blue. After offloading a few players, the kitty was bumped up to in excess of £160 million, lovely. A complete overhaul of most of the team soon followed, and I soon realised how much smoother the transfer market experience is in FIFA 13.
The transfer market now takes on much more of a management-sim tone. With negotiations taking place over longer periods of time, as well as the ability to view a player's form, happiness and market value all on the same screen. Team will not just outright reject transfer bids, but come back with counter-offers, and you have the ability to offer player-exchange deals.
During contract negotiations, you can now specify the role a player could have in your team, be it a bench warmer, squad player, or first name on the team sheet. Be careful though, if you tell a player he is crucial to your first team plans, then leave him to rot in the reserves, he will soon become unhappy about the situation, and tell you so. This brings a human element to your squad in FIFA 13. Players will regularly tell you how they feel about an upcoming match, their form, or your decisions via screen pop-ups. Fringe players will be delighted with a run in the first team, and not only tell you in private, but also report their delight or dismay to the press.
One thing that has been added, continuing the theme of FIFA 13's "unpredictability", is the ability for players to suffer 'freak' injuries outside of matches and training. I lost Samir Nasri for four weeks due to a bizarre accident involving the car doors of his sports car. A crazy story, but again adding to the realism of football.
Of course, the crux of football management lies in results, and now, if you bring success to your club, the international stage awaits. Smaller nations will approach you earlier on in your career, with the chance to manage higher profile countries the further you progress. Juggling international and club management is a daunting task, as anyone who has played a management sim will attest to, so be prepared.
It looks like a mode which people sink countless hours into every year just got a whole lot deeper. Be prepared to spend a lot of time immersing yourself in FIFA 13's career, both as a player and manager. I've only scratched the surface of the managerial side of things, and while people may argue these are merely superficial additions to the game, the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.