Developer: Sports Interactive
Platform: PC, Mac (both must be accessed via Steam)
Release Date: 21st October 2011
There’s a reason why previous versions of Football Manager have been so successful. After having had my life taken over by FIFA 12 the last few weeks, I came into Football Manager 12 thinking there was no way it could pull me away for long enough; why would I want to just manage and watch simulations when I could be playing the actual matches? I wish I knew the answer to that, it would really help explain why I’ve become addicted to this game.
Display wise, the new “adaptive layout” is very useful if you have a big screen, expanding the number of panels you can see at one time. If you’re new to Football Manager, the interface may be a bit confusing at first, but there are plenty of tips and help available in the game to show you around. At times it still feels a bit messy but after a while you get used to it easily enough. The only real change that has been made in regards to the setup is the ability to add/detract leagues which definitely comes in handy, (meaning you can actually control more than one team in different leagues in one save file) there are however countless additions scattered throughout the game, each improving the experience to different extents.
Where Football Manager 12 really earns its points is the sheer level of detail and complexity included in the game. The series has been renowned for its use in real life by some clubs such as Everton as a player database, and it’s not really difficult to see why. From scouting reports to player attitudes, you really get swept up in trying to build and sustain a formidable team. There is very little to find fault about in the off-the-pitch parts of the game, the amount of control and and options you have in all aspects of managing is really amazing.
It’s the little additions such as loyalty bonuses, youth contracts, and player talks which boost the off-field activities and make them more engaging and much more controlled. Contract negotiations now have even more detail which you can integrate in order to get your players, allowing you to set a maximum wage offer to the agent at which you can adjust other areas of the contract such as bonuses to make it more appealing for the player. I felt that pricing for players seems a bit off, with young stars such as Mario Götze available at a more than reasonable cost, not to mention Dortmund giving him up a bit too easily.
Scouting has also been improved quite a lot, in terms of both player scouting and team reports before a match. You can get reports on almost everything about a team bar what they ate for dinner last night. Average ages, heights, wages and caps can be viewed and squad comparisons between your team and an opposition can be done assessing players in each position and giving you a rundown of which areas you have the advantage or lack thereof one in.
Where I think Football Manager falls down a bit is the actual matches themselves. One addition I do quite like is the ability to choose the tone of the team/individual player talks. Certain tones seem to have more effect then others, although unless you consistently are yelling at your team it doesn’t seem to do too much to their morale.
The 3D graphics for matches, although slightly improved mainly thanks to the director’s cut view, are still average at best and not particularly enjoyable to watch. I prefer the 2D view, although very simplistic it still makes watching them a bit more bearable. I think it comes down to personal preference really, but I just don’t find it fun to watch poorly controlled AI players. This year SEGA boasted improved AI for goalkeepers, and whilst they have improved a bit the overall AI is still pretty frustrating. Sure you can add tactics and change your players around in an attempt to change the outcome of the match but it’s just not particularly enjoyable to watch.
In terms of sound, well, there really isn’t much to say. As with last year there is very limited sound, so you’ll basically be sitting in silence or listening to the radio/iTunes in the background. Whilst the lack of a soundtrack doesn’t bother me too much, some match commentary would be great. I’m sure it would get very repetitive very quickly but it would still be a really nice addition and make the simulated matches much more enjoyable.
Finally just a small note to add about the increased effort to utilise social media has the potential to make FM12 become a much more competitive community game. Facebook and YouTube tools have been added and improved to allow clip posting and updates to be done with much more ease and effectiveness. It’s nothing that’s going to change the gameplay really but it definitely is a nice addition to encourage a more social way of playing the game.
Football Manager 12 is one of those games that you get what you give. If you have the patience to go through all the off-field managing, scouting new players and negotiating contract, not to mention sitting through the simulated matches, then you will absolutely love this game. It’s lasting appeal is limited only by the release of the next release in the series, and it’s detail and depth is second to none in the realm of football manager games. As I mentioned earlier, the main flaws I found with this game are more of a personal preference thing, but I still think there is a fair way to go for match presentation to make this game perfect.
If you’re a fan of the series, you won’t be disappointed with this game at all. If you’ve never played any previous versions but you’re a big fan of football, then it’s definitely worth giving it a go. It’s not a game that will appeal to all, but it’s a very solid, well constructed game which is very easy to get addicted to.
I rate Football Manager 2012: