After taking a few years to establish itself the Football Manager (previously Championship Manager) series has continued its gradual evolution into what is now the most detailed and realistic soccer management game by far. Anyone that has played any of the previous entries in the series over the last decade will know what to expect whilst less experienced players will find FM2012 the most accessible yet with better tutorials than ever before.
All the usual features are still present and correct and as ever a few new ones have been added. Firstly it is now possible to switch leagues on and off once you have started the game. As a result anyone that fancies managing in more than one country during their career can do so without having to run too many leagues simultaneously thus slowing their game to a crawl on an average PC.
Team meetings are also now more useful with staff members now explaining why particular players are unhappy with training etc rather than, as was the case with FM2011, leaving you to guess what the problem might be. Their scouting recommendations are however still usually awful with coaches often suggesting you look at players that are never going to make the grade at your club.
During matches themselves the player is now given the option of choosing the tone (aggressive, passionate, calm etc) of how they deliver half-time team talks and other instructions reducing the occasions when players would mis-read what you were trying to tell them and get upset. The 3D highlights have also had a slight overhaul and the option to watch via a more dynamic 'TV style' camera is now available for those that want it.
In the end, despite the improved tutorial, Football Manager 2012 is unlikely to win the series many new fans but anyone that has enjoyed previous entries in the series will find this to be the most realistic (gone are the days of inexplicable runs of results) and detailed yet and will be sure to get many hours of enjoyment from it.
*Access to Steam is required to install the game and, even though there is a way to play offline, there have been occasions where I have been unable to load up my game due to Steam connection issues. This is only a very rare occurrence however and should in no way put you off the game*