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OS Scores Explained Football Manager 2012 Overview (PC)
Pros
Impressive long term playability, New team talks a good twist, Incredibly vast game database.
Cons
Below average graphics and audio, Board and media interaction needs fleshing out, Needs a pretty powerful machine for a large game world
Bottom Line
If you have even a passing interest in football and/or sports management games, Football Manager 2012 is a must buy.
9
out of 10
Football Manager 2012 REVIEW

Football Manager 2012 Review (PC)

Insomniacs of the world rejoice, Football Manager 2012 is here. The ever popular, “just one more turn, I swear," gold standard of sports management sims has made its annual return. 

Every year, the game gets deeper and more realistic in simulating the day to day lives of football managers. This year is no different. That said, not every facet of a manager’s job is playing in the finals and lifting the trophy. Some, in fact, are quite mundane, and FM — consciously or not — brings that to you as well. All that is to say that FM 2012 is a long term investment. 

If you’re looking for short term thrills, look away, as this is not a pick up and play game by any stretch of the imagination. But if you’re looking for a game that will last you for months and months on end, as you slog through the dog days of winter trying to build your team, in hope for glory come spring time, this is it.

Presentation


Usually, I don’t notice much when it comes to menus and such, but a game encompassing as much information as FM, which some from the peanut gallery like to call a “glorified spreadsheet” game, it’s crucial to have a functional user interface. As the developers over at Sports Interactive pack more and more into every screen, it becomes harder to navigate through all the information without getting lost, or at least make your fingers a little achy. This year in FM 12, the interface received a new coat of paint. They are mostly rearrangements and streamlining of certain screens and tabs, but the results, save for a few missteps such as separating the individual player instruction screen from the main tactics page, are positive. It will definitely take some getting used to at first, but once you’ve settled in the result is a more user friendly and intuitive interface that will save you from a lot of unnecessary clicking.

As for the other element of presentation — graphics and sounds — it’s more of a mixed bag. Nobody buys this game looking for dazzling animations and the addition of 2D and 3D action already surpasses the expectation of a “text sim”, but it still merits a note. On pitch graphics have improved, with players’ animation looking more human than just a bunch of moving limbs, but the quality is still subpar. Audio is nothing more than just oohs and ahhs. 

Gameplay

The time it took me to play through one season of Championship Manager 3: A day and a half.

The time it takes me to play through one season of Football Manager 2012: One week.

So without question, the series has gotten deeper and more complicated (and also takes a lot longer to simulate). But is deeper necessarily better? InFootball Manager’s case, I’d argue yes. 

For a series like FM, the fine line between fun and simulation is probably a lot further towards the sim spectrum than your average game. What this means is that there will be mundane tasks (arranging your scouts’ traveling schedule, and then sifting for a star prospect through the heaps and piles of reports, for example) that almost become chores. But what it does add is the sense of immersion; you have full control of every aspect of team management. 

As well, SI has done a good job in adding depth to some of these tasks. Take team talks, for example. It used to be pick one out of five possible responses, then say a little prayer and hope that your team reacts positively. Not only was it a bit of a lottery, but it was so simplistic that after a season, the game lost its luster. 

This year SI not only added a few new response choices and instant player reactions, but also the concept of tone. Tone lets you choose from a range of emotions you’d like to deliver your message. What this does, in practice, is add another layer to the module, forcing you to assess the personality of the team and whether they would react better to some gentle coddling or the famous Fergie hairdryer. And of course, your ideal emotion will change as your squad personnel changes, which keeps the team talks interaction fresh even five or ten seasons into the game

There are other welcome additions, as well. Managers can now lock a certain aspect of a contract they can’t or won’t budge on during negotiations, forcing the agent to up the ante elsewhere. Last year agents felt too black and white in the sense that if the salary or bonus wasn’t at a certain figure, he would walk away no matter how much you concede elsewhere. This year that’s not the case anymore. 

Also new is the ability to add and remove leagues at any point during the game (whereas before you’re stuck with the ones you chose at the start), boosting the game’s already incredible long term appeal even more. 

Despite these improvements, FM 12 is not yet perfect. Some team talks remain awkwardly phrased and out of context, and the scope of possible responses -- though improved this year -- can still use some expanding. Media and board interaction are still overly simplistic (the overhaul with team talks were not extended to press conferences and board requests) making them less than desirable exercises to go through, especially when you get rejected for extra transfer funds. And don’t go crazy with the amount of leagues if you have a medium-tier machine, because FM 12 needs a pretty heavy duty processor and a good deal of RAM. 

All in all, the aforementioned minor quibbles aside, you are as close to being a real manager as ever when playing FM 12. This year’s improvements, combined with the massive player and team database we expect and love, culminate to make the game a brilliantly immersive and addictive one. One of my favorite and understated improvements is the fact that other managers act and react as frequently as you do -- they play mind games with other AI managers and comment on another team’s players. Which goes to show that Football Manager 2012 is a world on its own, and you’re just another habitant within it.

Online

Football Manager is still, at its heart, a single player game, but it comes with the standard online fare too as multiplayer games and social media have been integrated. What’s more impressive though is the dedicated online community for this game — something that even offline-only users can appreciate. There are many logo, face and kit packs, as well as roster updates available for download.

On a side note, this year Football Manager requires Steam to activate the game whether you buy it online through Steam or the boxed version. Not necessarily a plus or minus either way, but there are some out there who are vehemently against using Steam, so beware.

Final Thoughts

It’s always a hard task grading Football Manager. Since the game is built on such a steady foundation, even with literally no new features except a roster update, it is still way better than its competitors in the field. So while the changes this year don’t seem at all earth shattering, they do a very good job in either cleaning up some old annoyances, making the game more user friendly or fleshing out an existing feature. The cliché associated with Football Manager is that it strives for “evolution rather than revolution,” but it’s true. Basically, the best just got better. 

Learning Curve: Newcomers, prepare to take a fair share of shellacking. It’s a deep game and requires a lot of time to get familiar with.

Control Scheme: For the sheer amount of information available, the interface does a great job, for the most part, to keep everything neat and tidy.

Visuals: Still looks outdated and somewhat quirky, though it’s not a significant deal.

Audio: Oohs and ahhs only, but again, you’re not playing FM for the sights and sounds, are you?

Lasting Appeal: Through the roof. Though your marriage, job and school performance might suffer.

Score: 9.0 (All Time Classic)


Football Manager 2012 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 jb1 @ 11/14/11 12:04 PM
Good review and I agree that this game deserves a 9, for me FM continues to set the standard. I spent a lot of time (probably too much!) with FM11 and although as you say there are no real earth shattering improvements here i still feel like i'm playing an even better game. I think most of the improvements have made a for an even better experience.

I still have some issues with AI squad management but none that will stop me enjoying a 20-30 year career!

Oh and yes I would also race through seasons on CM3 but the game has come a long way since then and yes, it now takes a lot longer to complete a season but for me that shows off one of the best things about this game, it's attention to detail.
 
# 2 Dazraz @ 11/14/11 12:09 PM
I was an avid fan of football management sims in my long gone youth. Those were the days of the ZX Spectrum & later the Commodore Amiga. In those days playable football games were plentiful but few lacked any real quality. It was in management simulations that the depth & immersion of the sport was realised.
Fast forward to the present day & we have a plethora of sport simulations that offer both highly detailed gameplay coupled with in depth season/career modes. Okay not as in depth as the managerial aspects of the likes of this game, but when coupled with playing your teams games, there is plenty to keep you busy.
I have invested in a couple of management games in recent years but after a few games I just get fed up & tend to put them to one side. The depth of these games is admirable but most of the depth involves carrying out tedious & long winded tasks, the benefits of which are sometimes negligible.
I recall many times of sitting up with my uncle until silly o'clock in the morning ploughing through game after game of one of numerous football management games but now I find the genre dated. Football management games have always been time consuming but the way they are today it amazes me that anyone can find the time to work through them.
 
# 3 Perceptor @ 11/14/11 01:53 PM
Great review. Sums up my feelings on the game. I used to fly through seasons in the older games, but I actually enjoy taking the time to review reports and really scout players. Even though I use "big money clubs," I'm always trying to develop and build as opposed to buying stars.

This is the only game I play these days and the improvements keep me coming back for more
 
# 4 ImTellinTim @ 11/15/11 01:01 PM
Spot-on review. Can't really add anything to this. Exactly the score I'd give the game because there still isn't an easier way to play online.

To anyone thinking about getting the game, you're in for a long learning process that might even extend into FM13, but once you hit that sweet spot, it's gold. If you have any questions, there's plenty of FMers around here that will be happy to help, just ask!
 
# 5 Perceptor @ 11/15/11 01:35 PM
I'm still learning now and I've been a FM addict since CM 2000.
 
# 6 LingeringRegime @ 11/16/11 10:55 AM
Is this a licensed game? Or are those team logos mods?
 
# 7 jb1 @ 11/16/11 11:20 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DEFTFUNDAMENTALZ
Is this a licensed game? Or are those team logos mods?
Many leagues are licensed, for those that aren't you can download mods from a few different places to fill the gaps.

This is taken from the Sports Interactive Forums to explain what licenses they hold:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles Jacobsen (Sports Interactive)
Australia – We again have a license with the Hyundai A-League, this allows us to feature both league and club logos, as well as the proper fixture list for the current season.

Denmark – Our second official license with the Superliga, with league and club logos, as well as player photo’s where we’ve been able to source them.

England – Official licenses from the Football League and Football Conference, with all of their other competitions covered too. Agreement includes logos for all competitions, players photos (where supplied) and real fixtures for the Blue Square Conference, Blue Square North & Blue Square South.

France – League licenses for both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, with logos for the competitions & real fixtures for both divisions.

Netherlands – Licenses for both the Eredivisie and Juliper League, with competition logos, and player pictures where provided. We also have an official license for Team Holland, the Dutch national team.

Northern Ireland – License for the Carling Premiership, including logos and player photo’s where supplied.

Scotland – SPL and associated competitions, including logos, player photo’s and real fixtures.

South Korea – Official license for the K-League, including all logos, player photo’s where provided and real fixtures.

Spain – Licenses for both Liga BBVA & Liga Adelante. This enables us to feature team & competition logos, player photo’s for both divisions and fixtures for the Liga BBVA. Please note that some of these pictures won’t make it into the game for the boxed version, but we will deliver any player pictures that are sent to us between the game going into manufacture and the release date via Steam.

USA – MLS license, including player photo’s and the real fixture list. League logos too, obviously.

Wales – License for the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League + Loosemores League Cup, including real fixtures & competition/team logos.

Italy – We have licenses in Italy with the following clubs, in alphabetical order… AC.Milan, Atalanta, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Cesena, Chievo Verona, Fiorentina, Genoa, Inter, Juventus, Lazio, Lecce, Palermo, Parma, Roma, Sampdoria, Udinese.

At last count, there are over 4700 player photos in Football Manager 2012.
 
# 8 ImTellinTim @ 11/16/11 11:28 AM
DEFT, it's pretty much a non-issue. You can find everything you need to make the game authentic with a simple search of one of the many great community sites out there.
 
# 9 ey215 @ 11/16/11 05:43 PM
Skyrim and NBA 2k12 are still sucking my life away so I've been dodging my yearly FM addiction. Nice review. For those that don't know, make sure to try out the LLaMa experience. Lower leagues is really where FM thrives.
 
# 10 Sweed @ 11/16/11 05:52 PM
Very good review with 9 being a fair score. As you said evolution not revolution. I think FM12 feels much more polished than 11. The action on the pitch is much improved especially action around the goal. Again all IMHO. Totally worth the price of the game to upgrade from 11 to 12.

I'm from The States and knew nothing about football (strategy, transfers, leagues, tournaments, etc.) when I picked up my first version of FM in 2006. It took three months of dedicated play to begin to get a handle on things. This was back in the day when sliders were the only way to build a tactic. So while you rightly say its a large learning curve to play FM12 I actually think it would be easier starting with FM12 than FM2006 because of the in-game tutorials, help files, and the tactic builder.

If you like playing dynasty modes of sports games this is the best out there hands down. Don't let the complexity of the game scare you away. Don't let the fact you don't like football\soccer keep you from trying the game. Tons of guys have become fans because of FM. Others, while still not liking soccer, still enjoy their FM. It is the only sports game I have ever played that has left me feeling like I am involved in a real world dealing with real people. Truly an awesome game.
 
# 11 jesmith29 @ 11/17/11 12:30 AM
^Well said Sweed and I completely agree. Played the FM 11 Demo and bought the game from Amazon last week. I really like the larger graphics. With the help from the various web sites and forums you can get a handle on the game.

I highly recommend the FM 12 guide you can download from www.fmformation.net.

I love this game.

 
# 12 RoyceDa59 @ 11/17/11 08:23 AM
I will certainly pick up this game as it looks amazing, I remember Football Manager 06 was the last one I gave a try.
 
# 13 Marc Vaughan @ 12/30/11 11:12 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazraz
I was an avid fan of football management sims in my long gone youth. Those were the days of the ZX Spectrum & later the Commodore Amiga. In those days playable football games were plentiful but few lacked any real quality. It was in management simulations that the depth & immersion of the sport was realised.
Fast forward to the present day & we have a plethora of sport simulations that offer both highly detailed gameplay coupled with in depth season/career modes. Okay not as in depth as the managerial aspects of the likes of this game, but when coupled with playing your teams games, there is plenty to keep you busy.
I have invested in a couple of management games in recent years but after a few games I just get fed up & tend to put them to one side. The depth of these games is admirable but most of the depth involves carrying out tedious & long winded tasks, the benefits of which are sometimes negligible.
I recall many times of sitting up with my uncle until silly o'clock in the morning ploughing through game after game of one of numerous football management games but now I find the genre dated. Football management games have always been time consuming but the way they are today it amazes me that anyone can find the time to work through them.
btw those of you finding it a struggle to find the time to play Football Manager on PC might be interested to know there is an iOS (iPhone/iTouch) version of the game called "Football Manager Handheld" which is designed to play far faster in the vein of our earlier titles ....
 
# 14 ImTellinTim @ 12/30/11 11:26 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Vaughan
btw those of you finding it a struggle to find the time to play Football Manager on PC might be interested to know there is an iOS (iPhone/iTouch) version of the game called "Football Manager Handheld" which is designed to play far faster in the vein of our earlier titles ....
I am going to check this out this weekend as I have some iStore gift money to burn!

I like the idea of the different scenario challenges that are described in the features screen.
 

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