Football Manager 2012
If there’s one game I get just about every year, it’s the new Football Manager. Each time SI Games and Sega deliver a new episode in their soccer simulation series. Episodes which usually get welcomed very positively, even if there’s little competition outside FIFA Manager. Whether also this year’s version can conquer a place in the heart of any soccer lover you can read below
The concept remains as simple as every previous year; you choose a club and try to make sure your team becomes extremely succesful so that you yourself become a respected manager in the world of FM. A notable innovation this year is that you can now also control the national promises teams from the start. In previous versions you would first have to take on the big boys after which you can take the youngsters under your wing as well. A nice and realistic addition.
Another welcome innovation is that while playing you can choose to add or remove countries and competitions. No more loading ten different competitions because you “might want to take on an international competition” and have to suffer long loading times as your PC is taking care of other active competitions. If you now for instance want to start with Belgian champion Genk and make them a solid European contendor, but after a couple of seasons lean more towards the amusement to go forward with a billion dollar team like Manchester City, you just load up the English competition and you’re ready to conquer that one as well.
Psychologists amongst us can also have fun with another new feature: the team conversations before, during and after the match which have gotten an update. Previously you could do a general speech or choose to have a chat with some individual players seperately, but this time you don’t have to choose anymore. You can opt for both options at the same time and even talk to your players by line. Even better, you can even choose the tone of your talk (calm, driven, aggressive, …) which has a different effect each time as each player prefers a different style of approach. Also the team discussions that you can have outside matches and where you talk to your entire team uses the same system. You can address the entire group and talk about recent results, expectations for the next season, and so on, and afterwards you can talk to a couple of individuals seperately as well. All in all this gives Football Manager yet again another touch of realism and humanity.
Also the scouts and business managers have gotten an EQ update. Scouts are less focused on the purely statistical character of a player and look more at how he would fit in your team. also his knowledge of other competitions and clubs has gotten more weight making it worthwhile to consider hiring a less talented scout to start exploring a certain area.
The business managers now have also understand that not every club has a massive budget and if you highlight that you’re running low on cash when it comes to sallary, you can more easily find a compromise whereby other bonusses compensate a lower base sallary and the specific player will still put on a shirt of your team.
Something I personally found a slight disadvantage is a small clumsyness in the menus. In previous versions the back button was only valid for the “big menus”. For example: you’re looking at your player selection and click on one of them so you arrive at his profile page. Afterwards you look at his history to see which other teams he played for. Previously if you would then click on the back button, you would go back to the player selection, but that’s no longer the case with FM12. Now you first go back to the player’s profile. In other words: the submenus now also count which results in unnecessary clicking if you’re busy taking a closer look at certain players.
Another point that each year drops the fun a bit is the fact that very few teams and competitions show their official logos in the game. Some series not included all teams have to do with a standard template, possibly slightly adjusted, filled with the club colors. It probably costs tons of money to get this fixed, but it definitely would increase the fun on visual level.
As always, setting up trainings yourself remains icky. It takes some time before you get the hang of how to put together an efficient training schedule, and you therefore do best to follow the stars your trainers score in each department. The tactical screen of your team on the other hand is set up so well that you quite easily can put together an ingenious tactic including where your team has to focus on. You want your team to focus on playing together, or prefer to put pressure in silent phases? And how heavy does the training need to be? Which tactics will you hold on to when your basic one starts to fail? You determine it all.
The 3D games have also been polished a bit and make that you can now follow them pleasantly. Fans of the old-skool genre can still choose the 2D display with the dots, something that automatically is offered if your PC isn’t one of the strongest anymore. Depending on the game situation the camera will also change viewpoint to make it better for you to follow the action. Fans sing loud and have put on the colors of their beloved team, and also the stadions look quite impressive. Long live the feeling of competition!
Conclusion: the latest version in the Football Manager series is again a clear goal. SI Games and Sega prove again they’re the kings of soccer management, even if there isn’t too much competition present. Except for some minor issues and the usual – although not too prominent – bugs and glitches we again get a top title here with enough innovation compared to last year. We’re sure soccer fans will again spend countless hours with their favorite teams, guiding them to the top tier of world soccer.