The world's most popular football management simulation game, Football Manager 2012, is now available for Android phones and Android tablets, in the shape of Football Manager Handheld 2012. We took a look to find out if it was worth dedicating several years of not washing or eating properly, and found that while it can't compete with the full version of Football Manager, Football Manager Handheld 2012 is the best mobile football sim around.
Football management games hold a special place in the hearts of all soccer-loving gamers. Whilst a game of ISS or FIFA can sustain me for a few hours, I'm fairly certain I spent the entire three years of my university career playing Championship Manager (and I achieved more honours that way). All true believers know that the current Champ Man is a bland imitation of the real deal, as the key developers jumped ship to Sega to work on Football Manager. And the Windows version of Football Manager 2012 is an insommnia-inducing classic. But what of the mobile port? We took a look at Football Manager Handheld 2012 on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Covering a choice of leagues in 12 countries, Football Manager Handheld 2012 is a cut-down version of the Windows behemoth. And although the detail remains, in terms of player rosters and club histories, fans of the full version of Football Manager shouldn't expect the full game experience in Football Manager Handheld 2012. On the flip side, the game zips along at a nice pace on our Tab, auto saving as it goes.
Whether that compensates for the reduced in-game experience will largely be a matter of personal taste. I can comfortably live with a more stripped-down in-match window, for instance. The 3D footballers of the Windows version are replaced by circles, rather like Gary Neville's green board on Monday Night Football. And that there are no player or stadium photos is of no consequence for me. And I don't miss squad numbers, or having to register players. But during the match your players can adapt to any of the set formations at the drop of a hat, which takes away some of the tactical skill. And that does point to one of the big misses: training.
In the full version of Football Manager you have to prepare your teams to play different formations. Training is important on an individual basis, too, as you tailor the regime followed by each player depending on what you judge that they need. Not here. In Football Manager Handheld 2012 you simple assign your players to one of a handful of set training programmes. And there they stay. See also: Best Android Apps
Indeed, you can't appoint or sack backroom staff in Football Manager Handheld 2012, or speak to your players to affect their morale. And the reserves remain a greyed out mystery, unless you demote a disaffected player.
All of which is quite time-saving, if like me you spend a great deal of time on such details when playing full Windows Football Manager 2012. But it does slightly reduce the stickability of Football Manager Handheld 2012, from addictive to moreish.
Football Manager Handheld 2012 on Android: design
Setting up a game is remarkably quick, and Football Manager Handheld 2012 is designed in a sufficiently mobile-friendly way to make straightforward viewing and selecting from a new squad. Like a mobile-optimised website, you never have too many options from which to choose. It looks good, and you are almost always within a click of moving the game time along. Oh, and using touch-sensitive drag-and-drop to pick your team makes a pleasant change. It knocks into a cocked hat mobile versions of Championship Manager we've tried previously.
Some changes have been made to make the game more mobile friendly of which we are less enamoured, however, particularly on the large screen of a 10in tablet. Rarely does clicking a player or club name take you to a page of details about said man or team: often you have to hit the details icon in the bottom righthand corner of the screen (it looks like a written page), and that offers you links to any nouns on the page.
Once in a game your home screen offers five options: Club, Manager, Competitions, Search, Options and Continue. As with the full version of the game, as things progess you receive a series of 'news' alerts, keeping you posted on important happenings in the virtual football world. There's an initially useful, but quickly annoying virtual assistant who tells you how to get cracking.
Club lets you interact with your squad and reserves, in so much as you can, and offers information about tactics, training, and upcoming fixtures. You can also view your clubs finances and info about the division you are in.
Manager is where you can hunt for jobs, resign or take a holiday, and check with your board whether you need to hunt for a job, resign or take a holiday. You can also request backing from your board here (but do so at your peril). Competitions is where to find details of fixtures and other teams, Search is your all-important mechanism for finding new players. You can save or leave the game via Options, and Continue is what makes the game, well, continue.
Football Manager Handheld 2012 is the best mobile port of a football management sim that we've played. It's good looking, instantly playable, and mildly addictive. It's not anything like as deep as the full game for Windows but, then, that's not what you are looking for on an Android phone or Android tablet.