Football Manager 2012 Review
The world of Football Manager has finally become that bit more welcoming. Yes, tooltips and mini help messages have been available for a while now, trying to ease new players into their role as ‘Manager Who Will Lose Lots’, but in Football Manager 2012 we finally have a full, proper tutorial.
New players: you can feel free to join in now and realise that, far from the well-adjusted experts we appear to be, the veterans are just as confused as those just starting out. It is, indeed, a funny old game.
There are the additions and tweaks you would expect, like the ability to add more bonuses and incentives to player contracts in order to blackmail that 18-year-old who’s been tipped as the next Ronaldo (the fat one) to make the trip from Brazil to the Championship.
The simple way you can lock an offer – as in, no further negotiation will be accepted on that aspect of the contract – is a simple masterstroke. No more irritating agents adding £200 a week onto a contract you’d already sorted the wages on.
Tweaks. Tucks. Nips. More slow progress with 20 years of experience behind it. The usual hundreds of changes under the hood that nobody is even going to notice, at least until four months have passed and they actually start paying attention, rather than try to stop losing – or drawing 0-0 – so much.
Has Footy Man 2012 changed that much from last year? From a display point of view, it is a fairly different beast. The simple fact you get more information displayed when played at a higher resolution, thanks to a screen that adjusts itself, is both brilliant and frightening in an ‘oh my god it’s self-aware’ sort of way.
Clearing out your email inbox is fun, we’re deadly serious.
Are other things that different though? Yes. No. Maybe. The usual FM update kind of thing – there’s enough different to slightly confuse regular players, but there’s not enough that we can sing from the rooftops about it being a revolution for the series. Either way, it won’t stop us playing for hundreds upon hundreds of hours.
But it would be silly to avoid talk of some of the changes that jump out and smack you in the face like a misbehaving football boot definitely not just kicked by (Sir) Alex Ferguson into the head of a player the entire nation used to hate until he left Man Utd.
Team talks are now split between personal and team feedback, meaning you can give an overall talk to the whole team then personal barrackings to those little prima donnas who never perform when you need them to.
You also get instant responses to the talk, happy, angry, hungry etc. – no longer do you have to root through menus for assistant feedback, as if in real life the manager couldn’t just tell by looking at their faces. Unless he conducts all of his team talks from the depths of a pillbox four miles away, obviously.
Speaking of the assistant, you’ll still want to let your the poor bugger take care of press conferences, as they’re still boring as all hell. Though, of course, they will still say annoying, stupid things that will either mildly upset your players or make you a laughing stock. No, assistant person, we are not contenders for the title. We are 32 games deep and have 12 points.
Team chats are expanded this year. There’s no ‘throw boot’ option though.
There is a masterstroke among the changes, though: the ability to add and change leagues being played is a nothing short of brilliant and means no longer will you get the situations of old.
No more will you get 15 seasons in, have won everything in every league you have running and have to start all over again just to be able to play in the Swedish, Austrian and Swiss… no, not Swiss – that’s a terrible league – Finnish leagues.
Now you can simply change your decision halfway through a game. It’s one of those things you wonder why it wasn’t present for years beforehand, but at least it’s finally here.
But for all the interface changes, 3D engine upgrades (3D crowd! Miracle!), player updates, modifications to the meetings and the 800+ other tinkerings, this is still Football Manager. It’s still the game that will keep you up until 4am without you noticing. It’s still the game that can have you fist-pumping with joy as a bit of flashing text all but confirms your team has finally grabbed the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
It’s still the game that will have you fist-punching through the screen as your opponents bag the equalising goal in the 94th minute (with two minutes added for injury time) after having no shots all match. It’s still the game.
Who knows what it is about Football Manager – the unassuming air, the fact the developers openly acknowledge there will be another version next year rather than trying to string us along and deny a yearly series will have a yearly update, the way it doesn’t have an online pass (though it does have a one-time online activation), the way you can try and sign Freddy Adu to the Premiership where he clearly belongs – there’s something.
Where other series’ begin to grate or feel like they’re taking the piss, Footy Manager never feels unnecessary. Or does it? We were worried after pumping the hours into Football manager 2012 that it didn’t grab us – it didn’t seem as urgent that we play it – like it had done in past iterations. Is that the smell of burnout in the air? Are we finally getting a bit jaded and cynical towards a series that’s kept us happy the better part of 20 years?
In some ways – and somewhat surprisingly, given that last paragraph – yes. But then, the fact we easily racked up around 50 hours of play before writing this review has us thinking that maybe, just maybe, Football Manager 2012 still has enough going for it for us to still love the old dear.
There is absolutely no doubt in our gigantic minds that we will still be playing this come next year’s game. After all, Malmo FF aren’t going to win the Champions League by themselves.