Football Manager 2012 is so in-depth it’s hard sometimes to know exactly what features are new from previous incarnations. This years version contains over 800 new tweaks and features, some more noticeable than others. Tweaks range from Twitter and Facebook integration, adding the ability to upload clips to YouTube, and plenty of additions to the tactics and match engine. The game features leagues from over 50 countries, including all the major Europeans leagues, giving you more control than ever before. Even if you’re a newcomer to the series, the new in-depth tutorial will soon have you well on your way to virtually emulating the greats like Fergie (no,not the fat ginger one) and Mourinho (Designer Italian suit not included).
While Football Manager 2012 is a turn based, stat heavy game at its core, the huge amount of things you can do between “turns”, can keep even a novice player hooked for hours. If you even have a basic knowledge of the beautiful game, you’ll soon be giving imaginary press conferences in the bathroom mirror.
One of the joys of the game is that it offers as much access as you want. If you’re the sort who wants to negotiate contracts, tinker with set piece, setups and storm out of press conferences, or if you just want to select 11 spilt superstars and pray each matchday, then it’s all there for you. You basically do the things you’re comfortable with and let your backroom team deal with the rest. But obviously the more you do, the more you’ll get out of it. Watching the 16 year old you discovered, become the new Messi, really is one of the highlights,
Football Manager 2012 is certainly the most accessible version yet, the previously mentioned tutorial, along with an easier to navigate menu system really do make the game less daunting to newcomers than before. The new updated 3D match engine is also the best yet. The animations are smooth and although its not going to challenge Rage or Battlefield 3 in the graphics department, its certainly a mighty leap from older versions. The team talks have been updated too with the introduction of tones, now you can really get your point across to your underperforming stars, or offer words of encouragement to nervous players during a big game.
One downside is the lack of support for older graphics card, especially laptop chipsets, meaning those with older setups might not be able to us the 3D match options, although the old style 2D engine is still available. Also despite all the improvements to make the game more accessible, tactics can still be a little tedious. The sheer amount of tweaks you can make to each area would leave even Rafa Benitez confused at times, and can mean it can take a while to get a consistent run going. There is, however, a plethora of help and advice available on the Sports Interactive forums should you wish to get that involved.
If you have a few friends with the game, the multiplayer side of the game is always fun. The ability to setup private network games and compete for signings really does add a new dimension to the game; being outbid at the last second by someone with a higher budget is a painful experience.
All in all Football Manager 2012 is by far the best football management sim to date. Whether you are an experienced player, or a complete newcomer, there’re hours and hours – if not months and months – of gameplay, and endless re-playability. From taking over your favourite side to surging from no league to the champions league, there’s a management path for everyone.
So if you’ve always been curious about the series, now is the perfect time to jump in, I, however, accept no responsibility when you’re up all night perfecting your tactics for the tricky Tuesday fixture away at Grimsby, and your partner and work are threatening action. There is a demo available on Steam, albeit a slightly stripped down version of the full game. Also it has to be noted, an internet connection and Steam account are required to activate the game, but it can still be played offline after activation.
MLG Rating: 9/10
Platform: PC/ Mac / PSP Release Date: 21/10/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Football Manager 2012 for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.