Yes, this is essentially a football database, and the match graphics don't really do much to detract from that. That doesn't mean this isn't the most realistic football sim out there. There have been numerous additions aimed toward making the game more approachable for a newcomer to the genre, but I still feel that if you've not played any previous titles in the series you are faced with one hell of a learning curve. That said, if you are a fan of the series and/or football management sims in general, this game is more polished, more detailed, and of course more up to date.
To get the most out of the game you're going to need to spend a LOT of time playing it. A season can take about 20 hours to complete, depending on how much micro-management you want to indulge in. So, if you're looking for a casual footie sim, look somewhere else, try FIFA manager or something. This game is perfect for playing while you're listening to footy podcasts.
4 stars for me- a very in depth sim, but overwhelming for many.