by Ryan Sandrey
reviewed on PC
The 'Goaly Trinity'
For die-hard football fans like myself, there are three key releases in the calendar that we eagerly await like cup final day. Two of these releases, the latest instalment in the FIFA franchise and its rival in Pro Evolution Soccer, have already graced us with their presence, each improving on the last showing. All in all, 2011 has been a good year to be a footballing fanatic gamer.
The impetus is therefore on the third of the 'Goaly Trinity', the legendary Sports Interactive management series Football Manager, to not let the side down and complete the hat-trick, allowing gamers to take the match-ball home. With a series of changes and improvements in Football Manager 2012, it's clear they're shooting for glory. However, has the ball nestled neatly in the back of the net, or has the shot been smothered by the goalkeeper?
I See What You Did There
Now, I'm not going to bore you with the obvious stuff- there is a whole host of updated rosters for every team in the game. That much was expected, and you won't be disappointed. Also, certain clubs that have got filthy rich in the last 12 months, such as Malaga and Paris St Germain, and are consequently filthy rich in Football Manager 2012. All boxes ticked so far. However, there are several unexpected, but highly appreciated, changes as well. The most noticeable of these is the changes to the user interface. To veterans of the series, the interface is a noticeable change from previous titles. However, this is not a bad thing - the new design allows things like checking all the details about players to be accessible on the one screen. To me, this seems like a logical step; now you have access to nearly everything you could need to know about a player on one or two screens, rather than on several tabs.
Unfortunately, this change has its downsides as well, as it can take a while to adjust to the new changes in the interface. This is where the newly-implemented Tutorial Mode comes in. For those of you who dislike experimentation or being thrown in at the deep end, the Tutorial Mode gently holds your hand and guides you through all the necessary actions and menus. This mode therefore proves as a valuable addition to the game for both old gamers unable to adjust to the changes and new players alike.
Another large change to the interface in Football Manager 2012 is the redesign of the Transfer Centre. An oft ignored menu in the series previously, the Transfer Centre is now a useful tool to have, with it displaying current budgets, targets and negotiations in one easy to use screen, whilst still alerting you to the main goings-on in the mailbox. This combination of screens means that now there is greater control exerted over transfers than ever before. For such an integral part of the game, this is a good thing.
Similar changes have been seen in the Tactics screen. Where previously you just saw a list of players in a statistical style, now you see the morale, condition and other factors included on the Positions part of the screen, along with tactical decisions alongside the left hand side of the screen. New additions to the tactical screen include more of an emphasis on match preparation- adjusting the training schedules of your team to allow you to prepare certain tactics and increase the team's familiarity with them. The more familiar your team is with a tactic, the better the play using it. The more tactics they're familiar with, the more options you have to use during the season. Such changes will inevitably confuse or alienate those who live and die by the old system, but from a personal perspective, the various changes to the interface have culminated in the most intuitive and user-friendly Football Manager title to date.
Whole host of changes to the interface and game mechanics.
Changes will confuse or alienate some. Lack of changes in some areas (board meetings etc). No real improvement in the match engine.