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Kimberley Ellis
23 Nov, 2011

Football Manager 2012 Review

PC Review | Lift up the trophy once more.
Those that like to get their football (of the round ball variety) experience from the back room of the club rather than on the pitch will know that the Football Manager series has long had a rabid following amongst the management simulation crowd. To those uninitiated by this gaming genre, it may look nothing more than a math nerd's spreadsheeted dream, but to the true believer this is the one place where fantasy can become reality - and Football Manager 2012 does not disappoint.

The 2012 iteration of the title contains all of the regular incremental changes, but few radical feature overhauls, with the developer investing a great amount of effort into making the game easily accessible for new players. This is thanks to a streamlined menu to navigate and a new tutorial system. Thankfully, this dedication to assisting new players on their soccer club management journey has not watered down the game's content at all with the aspects of scouting, team tactics and player management still broadcasting the same thoroughness as previous iterations of the title.

Football Manager has always contained an unparalleled level of authenticity, and FM 2012, shows you early on that it too has followed suit. We found that playing as Manchester City that star player Carlos Tevez clashed with the manager to the point that we had enough of his antics and placed him on the transfer market, whilst a quick dabble at playing as Everton, saw us trying to field a talented side on the shoestring budget set out by our board. You'll find that your early goings on with the game will have you spending your pre-season convincing the top-class players that your club is capable of piling up the silverware, selling off the mediocre numpties on your roster and scouring the globe for up-and-coming talent via the game's robust scouting system. Add in choosing a formation and individual training regimes for your players and the game can be akin to a complicated mathematics equation, but long-term fans will utterly live for this attention to detail.

Slicker than your average Excel spreadsheet.

Slicker than your average Excel spreadsheet.
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Newcomers may find themselves overwhelmed by this attention to detail, with FM 2012 set to ease your anxieties thanks to the new tutorial feature. The lack of a way to ease new players into the franchise has long been a deficiency of the Football Manager series and is most definitely a welcome addition. The tutorial is separated from the rest of game and takes new players through the basics of the title, such as: how to select a team, build tactics for your team, field a team to play a match and learn from the feedback of your team's performance to improve their game throughout the season.

Once you've handled the tutorial and are ready for the real thing, there’s also an improved 'How to' section to give players an extra hand. This section allows you to enter a couple of keywords and be presented with highlighted menu options or a brief walkthrough to explain particular features in more detail.

One area that the game has improved is the transfer market - with the contract system being a streamlined process. There are so many elements to consider - duration of contract, win bonuses, appearance bonuses, goal bonuses, etc. - any or all of which might be demanded by the player, which can easily be updated at the click of a mouse button. When contracts are offered, players make various counter offers, and with so many variables on the table you'll find that contract negotiations can get rather tedious. To combat this, the game has added the ability to lock in a clause which will set that particular element as non-negotiable, which can not only reduce the time you spend on negotiating contracts, it can also prove to be a great tool to help you limit your club's spending.

Team talks have also been revamped, adding in a new level of depth, thanks to the being to address your conversations in a different tone of voice. Anytime you address your players you can be aggressive, passionate, calm, cautious, or reluctant in your manner, and each tone has its own associated set of comments. If you choose your responses correctly, you'll find that your players will respond in a positive manner. If you choose poorly, they might lose motivation or even create enough friction that they'll demand to be traded - an event that we were privy to when our team captain had a tantrum about being asked to relinquish his captaincy. The more you learn about the players on your team, the more you come to understand how to coax a positive response from each individual. If that's too much micro-management for your liking, you're also given the option of allowing the assistant manager to take the team talk.

Party like its 1999.

Party like its 1999.
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This ability to delegate responsibility to other parties has become more important as the series has evolved and its complexities grow even more intricate. If you really don't want to have any control over your team other than assembling your squad and playing the matches, you'll find that the ever helpful backroom staff members will handle the rest for you and keep you in the loop via regular meetings.

Significant work has also gone into improving the 3D match engine, which had previously looked about as hi-tech as a child's finger painting. While it still pales in comparison to the offerings of current generation graphics, the graphical update is much appreciated - even if it does look like a FIFA game circa 1990s. That said, the 3D match engine does present a couple of dilemmas in the form of a number of annoying glitches and processor-hungry animations which can result in a painfully annoying case of graphical slowdown which will see matches grind to an almost complete stop. The good news is that if the 3D engine annoys you enough, you can always go back to cheering on the coloured circles in the 2D viewpoint.

It's plain to see that the passionate legion of Football Manager diehards will know exactly what to expect from Football Manager 2012, as it exercises the same sheer depth and freedom that have seen the series leave other football management titles in its wake. For those that are keen to show off thier innate footballing genius to the world but never had the gumption to take the chance, Football Manager 2012 is an accessible introduction into the genre that you should definitely take a chance on.
The Score
Football Manager 2012 exercises the same sheer depth and freedom that have seen the series leave other football management titles in its wake.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
2 years ago
wrote
8½ – 9
A potential 'game of the year', and a game so good it should be fun for anyone to whom the concept appeals. Graphics, control, sound, presentation and gameplay must all be outstanding for a game to score this high.
really an 8.5 ?? i would give it maybe a 7 or a 7.5 if you want to stress the 'no other footy manager game comes close' angle

the match engine is the same as 11.3 but i suppose if you're comparing the opening releases (11.0 -> 12.0) to each other it has improved

thanks to the being to address your conversations in a different tone of voice.
should that say: thanks to being able to address your .... or something because it does not make sense to me

yes team talks and contract negs are slightly improved but they were never really problematic or needed changing from the previous versions

best new feature for me is being able to instantly see the individual effect of team talks on players without digging up the assman's comments screen. And the new directors camera angle which adds a bit of variety depending on the situation (right behind the kicker for indirect fks etc.)

i'm in 2027 on my current save but i reckon 8.5 is a bit generous. it's good but hardly great and apart from the updated teams doesn't do enough differently that fm11 couldn't already icon_dance.gif
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