Football Manager 2012 Review
Game: Football Manager 2012
Developer: Sports Interactive
Available on: PC & PSP (Reviewed on PC)
Like many franchises, another year signals another iteration, but unlike those other franchises the Football Manager 2012 series can suffer more. With an ever moving calender throughout the game, no two seasons are the same, so the the focus on the yearly release must shift to improving other areas, a roster update just will not do. Given Electronic Arts’ infringement on the Football management genre and the rampant piracy that violates the PC platform, it is an uphill battle, but this is one franchise that you should keep investing in…right?
GRAPHICS: Talking about the graphics to a Football Manager title actually feels a little silly, because they are almost inconsequential to how the actual game ends up playing, and feeling. That said, Sports Interactive have yet again tried to make the game even more visually appealing, and have indeed succeeded. This year sees a new director’s camera angle, which (during the matches if you use TV view, and watch highlights) changes the camera depending on what is going on at the time. If you have a penalty, the camera will be behind the player, creating a bit of extra tension. Kick-off may be shown from a aerial view, or you might get a different angle for a throw-in or free-kick. Again, this is only visible depending on how you play the game, you could actually miss it all if you play with commentary only.
The menus are as clear, clean and concise as ever. With such an obscene level of detail to figures and information it could be easy to have the player getting lost in menus that are ten deep, but Football Manager 2012 avoids this, allowing for short-cuts to menus you use most often.
SOUND: If the visuals could be deemed unimportant, then sound is even more so. It was hard to determine what changes had been made if any, to the audio – the crowd noise is pretty much the same and most gamers will find themselves turning the sound off as their first port of call, so they can continue to play silently, without anyone noticing that they’ve been sat there for four hours. Just one more match!
GAMEPLAY: If you’ve never played a Football Manager title, then the depth of the title may be frightening, with more options than you can shake a stick at and a veritable plethora of tactics, training methods, player interactions and just about everything else you could ever wish to be included in a football management simulation. That said, if you just want a shallow experience, you could easily pick one of the super-powers of the footballing world and ignore a lot of the tasks available, even getting your virtual assistant manager to handle menial tasks such as friendly match tactics.
There’s no question though, Sports Interactive have ratcheted the stats up a notch yet again, but it is fully customisable. If you want to have fitness, player value, morale all on show, you can. If you want to see their last few games rating, or positions, or…well, you get the point. However, this is all a little more welcoming than before and whilst it may seem over-the-top at first, the rabbit hole is a deep one that you will find yourself falling slowly into, and loving every minute of it. The depth is mesmerising in its intricacy, yet clever enough to welcome more casual players.
This year, FM2012 forces you to activate the product via Steam, but after doing so it will never bother you again save for achievement popups, and the game will always be updated with the latest patches automatically, which is a bonus. Comparatively this is actually quite a small change and fairly irrelevant when you consider the visual and gameplay overhauls that have taken place elsewhere.
Team talks have been given a bit of a shot in the arm. They feel far less of a “whatever” type of affair nowadays, and you get the instant reaction from a player with the game showing you their mood after the team talk. This does seem to have a strong effect on the actual match too, which is a huge positive. In general, if you don’t purposefully tell your assistant to take charge of most matters, you will be constantly reminded that you haven’t done certain things. This year though, a lot of these reminders end up being very helpful, and whereas before you may have completely forgotten about back-room meetings, the reminder helps you make these take place, which in turn gives you some useful information, for example, you may learn that a certain player is in need of further training in any given department.
The largely pointless “add comment” part of press conferences returns, still appearing to do nothing more than make things read more realistically when you receive the press report afterwards. Transfer market dealings haven’t changed too drastically either, and unless you are one of the big teams in the football world, expect to get constantly outbid and not be able to get that dream player you so badly wanted. It’s hard to complain about this though, as that is the way football has been for a long time, it just serves to make that cheap or free player who turns out to be the best buy you’ve ever made feel so much better.
Some of the same old annoyances remain, like getting 4 injuries in one game, but it’s hard to decipher whether these are glitches or just the random bad luck a football manager must sometimes endure. Either way, Football Manager 2012 really is the time sink to end all time sinks, and trying to work (specifically on writing reviews) whilst having it available on the desktop is a sure-fire to get yourself in trouble; it’s just that good.
LONGEVITY: How long is a piece of string? You could potentially buy Football Manager 2012 and never buy another management sim. No two seasons are the same and the attention to detail is immense. You can lose yourself in these games, and get in serious trouble doing so. The fact you can edit the data files and “cheat” your way to making your favourite team the richest in the world means that if you ever get bored, you probably have no soul (or don’t like Football). The new Steam achievements even give you yet another reason to play the game in a different way, with a different team. The achievement for taking a team from the bottom division to the top one alone will take you more hours than you probably have to spare. If getting your money’s worth out of a game is something you aim to do, then look no further.
VERDICT: Never before have you had so much control over a team as you do in Football Manager 2012, and it is taking every fibre of my being to not call this the definitive Football management simulation. The changes from year to year continue to vary in importance, but they are always noticeable at some point, showing that Sports Interactive care only about making the best game they can.
If you’ve never tried Football Manager before or are someone who hasn’t played one in a while then now would be a fine time to do so, whilst veterans will love the game just like they always do. Football Manager 2012 is the complete package, incredible value for money with never ending possibilities. Expect to lose months on end to this wonderful game.