FIFA Manager 12 – Preview

Let’s get this out of the way right now, not everybody loves football management games. It could be because they don’t like Football in general or it could just be that people find them too fiddly, and I can understand why people would feel that way. As someone who plays football (when I’m not injured) and who has tried my hand at coaching and managing a side, I am one of those people who really quite enjoy the genre, and find it a perfect way for me to see if I can manage the egos of a top class football team (though I draw the line at trying to keep them away from ladies who aren’t their wives).

FIFA Manager 12 is the eleventh instalment of the FIFA Manager series and also happens to be the first time I have ever seen a FIFA Manager game running. Based in Cologne, the developers, Bright Future, have been working on the FIFA Manager series since 2007 and, since taking over the development reins, they have managed to produce a game that has gone down quite well with the critics. This year, FIFA Manager is looking to blow the competition out of the water with some brand new features and refinements of old ones. During a visit to EA’s offices last month, Producer Adrian Curry ran me through some of the new features for the game and talked over what I could look forward to getting out of this one…

The first thing that struck me is the quality of the presentation. In football management sims, I’m used to staring at the same dull menus – a massive issue for me in this genre as you’re usually just staring at a screen full of boxes and menus – but Bright Future have picked up on that and created some beautiful and intuitive menu screens. This was best shown off in the game’s 3D match engine, an enhanced and tweaked version of the previous FIFA engine that not only looks good, but provides minimal loading times in the transition from menus to game and certainly looks impressive.

The game plays out as if you were watching a game of FIFA but, at any time, you can make changes to your formations and tactics, differing from rival footy management sims by allowing you to make all of these decisions right there on the pitch, without having to trawl through lots of menus and sub menus. If you know that the opposition striker is dangerous and needs close attention, you can find the defender on the screen and check out his man marking stats while the game is still in full flow, and then instruct the defender to man-mark that target. As soon as you have made that man-marking call, you will see your defender attempt to get close to the striker, though unfortunately in our demonstration the opposition striker scored within seconds of being marked, but it just showed that it’s not a guaranteed way of always keeping your opponents from scoring. With defending as just one example I was shown, you can also make changes on the fly all across the pitch, instructing your midfielders to take more long shots and wingers to cross the ball more often, all while the game is unfolding in front of you, just like a real manager.

As you would expect from a FIFA powered game, it’s not just the standard broadcast camera view that you can watch the match in, with the hardcore managers who want the full experience also catered for, allowing you to also view the game from a dugout camera so you would only see exactly what a manager would. There are other camera angles available, including the multitude of TV camera modes, top down and also a free-roam camera that you’re free to control. If you don’t fancy watching all of the match in the 3D format, you can of course speed the game up several notches or even skip to the end of the match at any point. You don’t even have to watch the match at all; there are options to view the game via a news ticker, which gives you text feedback for certain actions that are happening in the game and also a teletext type view.

Before a match you are able to have a pre-match chat with your players, something that can have a massive effect on the upcoming game. If you are going in to play against weak opposition and you tell your team that you expect an easy win, that it will be a total walk over, then your players can become complacent and it could work against you during the game. It’s a feature that needs to be in the game and certainly sounds as if it will work very well; it also plays into the new and improved player AI. I was told by Adrian that if I hadn’t played a previous version of the game it’s difficult to show off, but one of the big areas they have improved this year is player AI. If you have been a FIFA Manager player over the years you are hopefully in for a big change, let me know if what you find is a big difference!

Another feature shown off was the Club Facilities manager which has been completely redesigned. There are over twenty facilities that you can now choose to build, with each of these having multiple levels within them, giving around three hundred different building options for your club. You won’t be able to build all of the buildings to their highest level, so you would need to concentrate on what aspects of your club that you would like to focus on. Are you someone who is looking to invest heavily in Youth Development and wanting to upgrade the club’s youth training facilities? Or are you hoping to make more money and wanting to improve your business centre to help attract new sponsors? It’s another way of making you feel totally in control of your club which, in this genre, is important.

Speaking of sponsorship, remember the Theme Park hand shaking mini-game that was used in the negotiations? You do! Great, because that was a huge inspiration to the team when creating the negotiation feature for sponsorship deals. When you are looking to enter into a contract with a potential sponsor you make your offer and they come in with theirs; from here you have a minute to tinker with your offer while two hands are shown at the bottom of the screen, the closer you get to making a deal the closer the hands will get until they meet. Of course, some sponsors will cave easily and meet your demands, others you will have to play a devious game in order to get the best deal. I did ask if this feature was going to be implemented when negotiating player contracts but, at the moment, it will only be for sponsorship negotiation. If the community like the mechanic and clamour for it to be used in other areas then it is something the Adrian promised to look at for future titles.

The FIFA Manager community have played a big part in the development of the game. ‘Your Feature’ was an initiative that the team ran on the FIFA Manager forums, asking what the fans of the series wanted to see in the next game. The most popular features and those that made sense were then put into a poll and the community were then able to vote on the features they wanted to see implemented, which is how the pre match team talk found its way into the game, and the development team are freely responding to the community’s ideas on how to improve the series.

As far as my favourite features go, I’m guessing that if you have read this far you are a football fan, and if you have ever played for your own team, be it a Sunday league team or a Saturday team taking part in leagues at the bottom of the football pyramid, I’m sure at some point you have thought that you’d like to take your team to the top of the tree, and now you can. You can create a team from scratch, start them in any league you wish and then try and create your very own world beating team from nothing. You will be given randomly generated players to start for your team, but you can also run open trials, inviting local talent to come and show their skills and see if there are any diamonds in the rough that could take your team to that next level.

Finally, the development team will be working on the game throughout the year, implementing a live season feature that is similar to what is found in FIFA, where week by week the real life results are input into the game’s system. If you are a QPR fan and come New Year’s Day your team is bottom of the Premier League by six points, you can jump onto FIFA manager, download the current data and take control of QPR to see if you can guide them to safety. This will be a feature that will be available at any point throughout the season. Another scenario, let’s say if, in the real life game of blood, sweat and tears, Luis Suarez picked up an injury that put him out for six months and saw Liverpool finishing outside of the Champions League spots, you could instantly select to go back to that game prior to his injury and see if keeping him on the bench and out of trouble could then help Liverpool to regain their Champions League status. It really does open up a whole different way of playing football management games and is something that I haven’t seen done anywhere else.

As I mentioned at the start, not everyone enjoys football management sims. The perception is that you spend so much time looking at numbers that you are basically playing out a game of numbers on a spreadsheet. FIFA Manager 12 looks to put you in control of the action and wrench you away from some of the monotony of other titles. That said, if you don’t want to take full control of a club you can set your assistants to look after the day to day training schedules, the sponsor negotiations and contract renewals and leave you to just focus on the all of the glamorous stuff. You have the total freedom to play FIFA Manager 12 exactly as you wish. It’s certainly a title that I was much more impressed with than I initially thought I would be and it is always a pleasure to come across releases that you really have no pre-set expectations for, which then grab you and make you desperate to play them. Expect to see a full review sometime after the game is released on 21st October in the UK when I have managed to take Swindon Town FC to Champions League Glory. Might be a while.

Last five articles by Joey



  1. Adam Adam says:

    I was seriously impressed when I saw this. Haven’t played an FM game in years but this might be my return calling to the genre. Can’t get over how excited I got over the menus. THE MENUS!


  2. Ben Ben says:

    Championship Manager 2, the game that started it all for me *insert nostalgic memories here*. Sort of game that I can get lost into and one of those that for a liker of stats (STATS!!!) could prove to be potentially dangerous to any / all free time *gulp*

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  4. Edward Edward says:

    Have to admit, Football is not my thing, but management sims can occasionally peak my interest. Much as I like what they’re doing with it, it’s not for me, but I wish them the best of luck regardless. :)

  5. Richie richie says:

    This looks interesting, although it’s fucking ironic that EA are going on about menus when their regular FIFA games generally hide the gameplay behind the worst fucking menus of all time.

    Thing is, Football Manager has this shit down to a fine art.

    That said, if you want a good, accessible management sim. Get Championship Manager 00/01 and download the new data packs. It’s free and the last good one before this genre went nerdy as fuck!

  6. Steaua says:

    Been playing Fifa manager since ’06 and tried to switch over to Football Manger a couple of times, but I never got to far in the game cuz I was to annoyed about how cheap their 3D games are, and the Interface is not even close to the one Fifa Manager has. I played the ’12 one and I do see some changes in the AI but I havent played it to long to be able to tell what’s new in the AI.

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