Premier Manager 2012 Review (PS3)

Football Management games on consoles haven’t had much success in recent times. It seems like the genre grew too complex and intricate until console controls just weren’t quite enough for a comprehensive management sim. That said, there have been some casual successes on iOS and PSP and now the Premier Manager franchise returns to the PlayStation 3 for another run at the title.

[drop]It’s not a great start, the menus are, initially, quite unintuitive and difficult to navigate. After a little time they do become more natural and the main menu, which is called up using the R1 button, acts in a similar way to the PS3’s own XMB. It’s just a little odd that it’s bound to a shoulder button.

The background music has just enough character to become intensely irritating within about five minutes of the repeating loop chiming up. It’s the sort of game which doesn’t require sound at all though, so it’s not a big issue to just turn the volume all the way down and play your own music. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do this via the XMB as in-game music is sadly not supported.

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Load times are also an issue. The game displays a generic PlayStation 3 progress bar when started from the XMB with “loading” written underneath. It’s not an unduly long wait but it is a little long to spend wondering what’s happening. Loading saved games also takes a fraction longer than I was comfortable with too, considering that it is, in theory at least, only loading a database.

Once you’re into the game screens, things are reasonably well laid out so that information is easy to find. There are times when it’s unclear that you have to press R2/L2 to navigate tabs but that rule applies throughout the game screens so once you do work it out, it’s natural enough.

Transfers are quick, relatively easy and occasionally fun to play out and there seems to be a good amount of cash thrown around to keep things fresh. It’s often fiddly to find players though and scouting, or “researching”, players is a soulless exercise. If you know who you want and which club they’re at then it’s relatively simple to buy them but the negotiation system is quite simple and there are fewer shades of grey in negotiations than I’d like. Either a player is over the moon with a contract offer or there are threats of walking away – often over relatively small sums of money.

[drop2]What Premier Manager 2012 does do reasonably well is deal with formations and tactics. This isn’t like the full on PC management sims, presumably because of the limitations of a DualShock controller, so it’s necessary that tactical options are limited and your ability to make complex match day plans restricted. You’re given enough information and some really quite useful visual aids to judge how effective your set up is before you move on to actually testing your team competitively.

Unfortunately, that’s where Premier Manager 2012’s biggest issues lie. The match engine is not detailed enough to make it worth watching matches closely as they’re played out, you don’t get enough written information to make particularly informed decisions and the whole thing is a tediously drawn out process. Even with the match day set to its fastest speed, it still takes a couple of minutes to play out a result.

With an instant match resolve, the whole thing might have zipped along in a kind of quick and casual fashion that made it entertaining to rush through a season or two in an afternoon. As it is, the fun part of the game is setting up your team and once the match actually begins, you’re largely surplus to requirements – a faraway spectator at an uninteresting Subbuteo game.

Pros:

  • Some good steps taken to get around controller limitations.
  • Reasonably well polished in certain areas.

Cons:

  • Bland gameplay.
  • Match day presentation and gameplay is appalling.
  • Some odd control bindings.
  • Music, and sound in general, is poor.
  • It’s all just a little too basic and unintuitive.

Premier Manager 2012 does serve a niche on the PlayStation 3 and it’s one that I desperately wish had a really good game to play in it. Unfortunately, Premier Manager 2012 is not a good game and at £13.99, it’s far too expensive for me to recommend taking a risk on it.

If you loved last year’s then there’s a little bit of new stuff here that you might enjoy but for the most part it’s presentation tweaks and an updated database. If you’re new to the franchise and you come expecting something that’s engrossing, intuitive or entertaining then you’ll likely be sorely disappointed.

Score: 3/10

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14 Comments

  1. Haha, good review. This is how I felt about last year’s version. To be honest, I thought it was dreadful so there must be some improvements in this to score 3/10. My biggest gripe was the total randomness of results, I’d assembled the best team ever to be put together, with a ridiculous squad that would spank Barcelona, yet still lost games with stupid scorelines like 3-0 to rubbish teams. Decisions made seemed to have very little impact on anything, I think it just randomly generated results.

    I never expected better this year, and was never going to get this unless it got 10/10 and the improvements were huge, but clearly that’s not the case.

    LMA manager, come back!

  2. Ouch. Think I will just stick with the PC versions then.

  3. Sure this was only about £10 when I took a punt on it? Must have been a special offer.

    Spot on about the music – definately had me reaching for the mute button.

    Sadly I haven’t spent much time on it as a little game called Skyrim has swallowed all my spare PS3 time at the moment, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Yes, the match engine is pretty basic, but the game stats are clear enough for you to see if things are going well or badly, and the simple tactics options seemed comprehensive enough to me – nowhere near Football Manager levels but I’m quite glad about that as it overwhelms me.

    Plus points for me is the comprehensive player and team database and also the stadium upgrade facility is a nice touch – not absolutely essential but adds something to the game.

    If it had been £14 when I brought it I perhaps wouldn’t have bothered, but for the £10 I paid, I’m quite happy.

    • I think it’s got an opening discount applied on it but regular price is £13.99.

  4. I’ve always hankered after a review-score system based on a single word. This one would be “shit”. It’s true! I looked down the page and burst out laughing. Oh dear. 3/10 is a score where you feel duty-bound to warn the masses. Any lower and there’d need to be free therapy sessions thrown into the reviewing process.

    I want to say “good review” but I’m more worried about how you’re feeling. :-)

    • it does some decent things to get around controller limitations, albeit with some odd button bindings, but the game underneath that streamlining isn’t good enough.

    • A one word review is a excellent concept, sod numbers.

  5. I remember playing Premier Manager 98. That was a good game.

    • yeah, it really was, wasn’t it? This is nowhere near that good, unfortunately.

  6. Last console management game I played was way back on the megadrive me thinks???? Can’t even remember what it was called.
    Was midly interested in this, but will deffinetly give it a miss!

  7. Thanks for the review. Do you know how hard it is to find a review on this anywhere on the net??? Even last years one has barely any reviews. Glad I didn’t buy it now.

    • I think a lot of places just didn’t want to dedicate the time that’s required to look into a management sim when it’s all quite difficult to get enthusiastic about. I’ve had a look around since I wrote this and literally couldn’t find any other reviews.

      • Yip there isn’t one, other than a German review, but since I only know Ich habba am Geburtstag, I struggled to understand it. ;)

  8. The game is shocking compared with championship manager and now Football manager.There isn’t enough in the game to keep you interested.I love football manager games but i played this for about 2 weeks and got completely bored.The PS3 needs a decent footy manager game and this isn’t it and neither is the poor efforts on PES and FIFA.I agree with Tony Cawley’s comment that results are unrealistic, for instance you can easily put together a amazing team full of world class players and beat Arsenal 11-0 one week and then lose 3-0 to Scunthorpe the game after.Also a player who has a 70ish overall rating playing for a league one team can easily score 5 against say Man Utd(even without De Gea in goal!).The great thing about Championship manager and football manager is that it is difficult to win the league or the Champions league and it is a challenge.On this game i won the everything there was to win in 2 seasons cos its far too easy.In a nutshell Dont buy

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