REVIEW: Football Manager 2012

There’s a slight feeling of nostaliga creeping its way through here. For as long as I can remember I’ve been playing football management games, whether it be ‘Football Manager’ or it’s original iteration ‘Championship Manager’ – even ‘Ultimate Soccer Manager’ was a fixed point in my gaming life growing up. You have to ask any wife or girlfriend about the impact the game has, once it’s released you can be damn sure those playing it aren’t going to put it down for love nor money. For a game that from the outset looks so deliriously complex, getting older with the franchise is akin to me as doing Maths. It’s all numbers and statistics and yet you can’t argue with the overall outcome. What you end up with is the only solution it could have ever been, right? For those people who have divorced over this game, you only need to ask them. This game changes, makes and ruins lives. An incredibly common reason for pulling a sicky or staying in rather than going out. It’s returned – ladies and gentlemen, ‘Football Manager’ is back.

Much like most annual releases, ‘FM 2012′ – as it will hereon in be referred too – has the usual questions surrounding it. What’s new? Is it worth my money again? Can I still just add a new manager to my next team I’m playing and win easily?

I’ll answer them one by one, let’s begin now.

What’s new?

Ah! I’m so glad you asked. First things first, if you’ve never played ‘FM’ before, ’2012′ has a wonderful tutorial to ease you in. It’s almost a completely new section of the game itself, as it doesn’t run throughout the game, rather alongside it. For new players, it’s more or less essential as at first glance ‘FM 2012′ – or any in the series, for that matter – is incredibly intimidating. The tutorial takes you step by step through every option and every button you need to press to advance in the game. It’s thorough to the point of exhaustive, but absolutely terrific for beginners. For experienced ‘FM’ players who don’t think they need it, it’s still worth checking out as it can show off the new features to you easier than just going and discovering them. The tutorial is where you’re really going to find out how to really get the most out of the new game.

Elsewhere the interface has had a bit of an overhaul. It’s not incredibly different from last year, however the subtle changes are noticeable almost immediately. More or less, the higher your monitor resolution, the more you’re going to get. Everything is here (and more), just in different places. Compare it to moving house and taking everything with you, just placing your stuff in new rooms. Also everything is customisable, meaning you can choose what you see and when you see it, which is nice.

An interesting facet of the game for me has always been the interaction between yourself and the players. ‘FM 2012′ takes it to a whole new level allowing you to talk to them in different ‘tones’ – which will then create a different reaction from the players depending on which one you choose. You can be chilled and laid back ensuring the players will be at ease throughout the game or you can throw hairdryers at their heads, enforcing the law the way only a football manager knows how. It’s cool to see the differences in morale this can have. If you say something calmly the players can either be thankful or think nothing of it, seemingly assuming you don’t mean it, or you can kick their ass and their morale can either become motivated or angered. It’s very dependent on the player which way it goes. Big divas like Rooney and Giggs will get angry when you suggest their playing is of a less than stellar standard, whereas young up and comers from the reserves will listen and get themselves fired up and continue to do better. While it’s just barking orders and the game engine, it works wonderfully and makes it worth doing, as it can really have an affect on the outcome of a match. Full team meetings and individual chats with players are now also included, again it’s down to you to see if they have any kind of affect or not.

Speaking of the matches, it’s now a staple of the franchise to be able to view your hard work in tactics and formation in 3D. When I say 3D, we’re not talking ‘FIFA’ levels of realism but it’s most certainly better than it ever has been. A variety of options are available to view the match, including the new ‘Director Camera’ and a behind the goal perspective on the action, although the latter is fairy useless. The iconic action ticker remains, keeping you informed of the happenings in the game if you’re not using any of the 3D views – the alternative being the more traditional top down 2D view where the players appear as tactical circles.

By far though the biggest addition is the ability to add and remove leagues throughout your career. In ‘FM’ days of old, the database included in the game was so ferociously large it just couldn’t squeeze onto smaller computers, therefore you would have to choose your chosen country and league and then just stick with it. If you chose an English team to manage, that’s the country you would stay in throughout the game, with no chance of moving abroad – with the only choice if you wanted to move to start an entirely new game. Now though, you have the wonderful option to add in any league you want throughout your management reign, effectively allowing you to move back and forth across countries on the fly. It’s a great addition and one the series has been crying out for.

Finally, as we live in a society where we cannot keep a single thing a secret anymore and we absolutely MUST post completely everything that happens in our lives onto social networks, ‘FM 2012′ of course has options to upload news and score updates – fictional ones, from your campaign – to Facebook and Twitter, along with being able to record highlights from your matches to upload to YouTube. It’s a nice touch and it’s not completely in your face, which is nice – how much these will get used is up for debate, however I see the YouTube uploading taking off more than the others.

Is It Worth My Money?

Look at it this way, it’s ‘Football Manager’ – you know already if you’re going to buy it or not. The same goes for ‘FIFA’, ‘CoD’, any franchise game when their latest iteration is released. If you’re a fan and do everything you can to divulge yourself into the world of ‘FM’, this is for you. ’2012′ is without doubt the finest in the series, which is no small feat considering its history. Is it much of a step up from ’2011′? I’d say so, the new changes I have mentioned above are worthy enough to give the game a serious try. If you’re a veteran of the series, of course you’ll know exactly what to expect – incredible detail, unbelievable depth, masterful presentation and a genuine feeling of accomplishment when results go your way. There isn’t much of a better feeling than taking a victory over your fiercest rivals after a good hour of working out tactics and formations. It’s the RPG of a lifetime when you have to put together your soldiers for battle. One training session overlooked and you’ve lost the war, even if it is Manchester United vs Crawley Town.

Of course, another thing to remember is that ‘Football Manager’ just has no competition anymore. Nothing even comes close in terms of how successful this game has been, Sports Interactive own this genre and they have for a long time. Because of this, could they sit back and get complacent? Of course, people are gonna buy it anyway right? They most wonderful aspect of Sports Interactive is that they just don’t. They strive to make each version better than the one before it, even if the competition has scarpered. For that, they must be commended. ‘Football Manager’ may more or less be the only football management sim left, but there’s a reason why. It truly is the greatest around, and will be until someone has the balls to beat them at their own game. As for ‘Football Manager 2012′, if you have a PC (or a Mac, of course) and you love your football, it’s as essential as having SkySports.com running in the background on a Saturday afternoon. It just deserves and demands your time.

(And yes, you can still just add a new manager to your next opponent and win easily – but don’t. It ruins it for everyone).

Welcome back to your first love gentlemen, the love affair starts again. Explain that your lawyer…

[9]

REVIEW: Football Manager 2012

There’s a slight feeling of nostaliga creeping its way through here. For as long as I can remember I’ve been playing football management games, whether it be ‘Football Manager’ or it’s original iteration ‘Championship Manager’ – even ‘Ultimate Soccer Manager’ was a fixed point in my gaming life growing up. You have to ask any wife or girlfriend about the impact the game has, once it’s released you can be damn sure those playing it aren’t going to put it down for love nor money. For a game that from the outset looks so deliriously complex, getting older with the franchise is akin to me as doing Maths. It’s all numbers and statistics and yet you can’t argue with the overall outcome. What you end up with is the only solution it could have ever been, right? For those people who have divorced over this game, you only need to ask them. This game changes, makes and ruins lives. An incredibly common reason for pulling a sicky or staying in rather than going out. It’s returned – ladies and gentlemen, ‘Football Manager’ is back.

Much like most annual releases, ‘FM 2012′ – as it will hereon in be referred too – has the usual questions surrounding it. What’s new? Is it worth my money again? Can I still just add a new manager to my next team I’m playing and win easily?

I’ll answer them one by one, let’s begin now.

What’s new?

Ah! I’m so glad you asked. First things first, if you’ve never played ‘FM’ before, ’2012′ has a wonderful tutorial to ease you in. It’s almost a completely new section of the game itself, as it doesn’t run throughout the game, rather alongside it. For new players, it’s more or less essential as at first glance ‘FM 2012′ – or any in the series, for that matter – is incredibly intimidating. The tutorial takes you step by step through every option and every button you need to press to advance in the game. It’s thorough to the point of exhaustive, but absolutely terrific for beginners. For experienced ‘FM’ players who don’t think they need it, it’s still worth checking out as it can show off the new features to you easier than just going and discovering them. The tutorial is where you’re really going to find out how to really get the most out of the new game.

Elsewhere the interface has had a bit of an overhaul. It’s not incredibly different from last year, however the subtle changes are noticeable almost immediately. More or less, the higher your monitor resolution, the more you’re going to get. Everything is here (and more), just in different places. Compare it to moving house and taking everything with you, just placing your stuff in new rooms. Also everything is customisable, meaning you can choose what you see and when you see it, which is nice.

An interesting facet of the game for me has always been the interaction between yourself and the players. ‘FM 2012′ takes it to a whole new level allowing you to talk to them in different ‘tones’ – which will then create a different reaction from the players depending on which one you choose. You can be chilled and laid back ensuring the players will be at ease throughout the game or you can throw hairdryers at their heads, enforcing the law the way only a football manager knows how. It’s cool to see the differences in morale this can have. If you say something calmly the players can either be thankful or think nothing of it, seemingly assuming you don’t mean it, or you can kick their ass and their morale can either become motivated or angered. It’s very dependent on the player which way it goes. Big divas like Rooney and Giggs will get angry when you suggest their playing is of a less than stellar standard, whereas young up and comers from the reserves will listen and get themselves fired up and continue to do better. While it’s just barking orders and the game engine, it works wonderfully and makes it worth doing, as it can really have an affect on the outcome of a match. Full team meetings and individual chats with players are now also included, again it’s down to you to see if they have any kind of affect or not.

Speaking of the matches, it’s now a staple of the franchise to be able to view your hard work in tactics and formation in 3D. When I say 3D, we’re not talking ‘FIFA’ levels of realism but it’s most certainly better than it ever has been. A variety of options are available to view the match, including the new ‘Director Camera’ and a behind the goal perspective on the action, although the latter is fairy useless. The iconic action ticker remains, keeping you informed of the happenings in the game if you’re not using any of the 3D views – the alternative being the more traditional top down 2D view where the players appear as tactical circles.

By far though the biggest addition is the ability to add and remove leagues throughout your career. In ‘FM’ days of old, the database included in the game was so ferociously large it just couldn’t squeeze onto smaller computers, therefore you would have to choose your chosen country and league and then just stick with it. If you chose an English team to manage, that’s the country you would stay in throughout the game, with no chance of moving abroad – with the only choice if you wanted to move to start an entirely new game. Now though, you have the wonderful option to add in any league you want throughout your management reign, effectively allowing you to move back and forth across countries on the fly. It’s a great addition and one the series has been crying out for.

Finally, as we live in a society where we cannot keep a single thing a secret anymore and we absolutely MUST post completely everything that happens in our lives onto social networks, ‘FM 2012′ of course has options to upload news and score updates – fictional ones, from your campaign – to Facebook and Twitter, along with being able to record highlights from your matches to upload to YouTube. It’s a nice touch and it’s not completely in your face, which is nice – how much these will get used is up for debate, however I see the YouTube uploading taking off more than the others.

Is It Worth My Money?

Look at it this way, it’s ‘Football Manager’ – you know already if you’re going to buy it or not. The same goes for ‘FIFA’, ‘CoD’, any franchise game when their latest iteration is released. If you’re a fan and do everything you can to divulge yourself into the world of ‘FM’, this is for you. ’2012′ is without doubt the finest in the series, which is no small feat considering its history. Is it much of a step up from ’2011′? I’d say so, the new changes I have mentioned above are worthy enough to give the game a serious try. If you’re a veteran of the series, of course you’ll know exactly what to expect – incredible detail, unbelievable depth, masterful presentation and a genuine feeling of accomplishment when results go your way. There isn’t much of a better feeling than taking a victory over your fiercest rivals after a good hour of working out tactics and formations. It’s the RPG of a lifetime when you have to put together your soldiers for battle. One training session overlooked and you’ve lost the war, even if it is Manchester United vs Crawley Town.

Of course, another thing to remember is that ‘Football Manager’ just has no competition anymore. Nothing even comes close in terms of how successful this game has been, Sports Interactive own this genre and they have for a long time. Because of this, could they sit back and get complacent? Of course, people are gonna buy it anyway right? They most wonderful aspect of Sports Interactive is that they just don’t. They strive to make each version better than the one before it, even if the competition has scarpered. For that, they must be commended. ‘Football Manager’ may more or less be the only football management sim left, but there’s a reason why. It truly is the greatest around, and will be until someone has the balls to beat them at their own game. As for ‘Football Manager 2012′, if you have a PC (or a Mac, of course) and you love your football, it’s as essential as having SkySports.com running in the background on a Saturday afternoon. It just deserves and demands your time.

(And yes, you can still just add a new manager to your next opponent and win easily – but don’t. It ruins it for everyone).

Welcome back to your first love gentlemen, the love affair starts again. Explain that your lawyer…

[9]

Posted 2 years ago

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A grouping of my Thumb Culture posts and other unabashed tomfoolery.

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