The easy thing to see in Football Manager Handheld 2012 is that it's a stripped down, mobile-ified version of the main desktop-based franchise. An obvious statement, but it's amazing how often veterans will forget this and go looking for a feature that doesn't exist.
It's a problem that stops this version being as easily recommended as its bigger brother, as you feel underpowered in your fight against the AI menace. It's a bit unfair to hold a grudge against FMH for this, but it's what a lot of people will feel and therefore something that must be acknowledged.
But anyway, you've got all the features you'd expect from a management game – training, squad management, tactics, transfer lists and scouts, you name it – all just rather lean and low fat compared to the main series. This generally works well and things skip along at a fair pace, so at no point are you sat there looking at extensive 'Processing...' bars.
There are two game modes to pick from, a regular season-by-season one where you take control of a club and progress through up to 30 seasons of play, and a 'challenge' mode where you are given short term objectives to achieve, most of them involving perilous situations where you have to come in and attempt to stop the rot.
The touch interface is implemented well and it's simple and easy to find the information you want or to access the options you're looking for. The main problems come when you progress to the meat of the game, the matches.
Put simply, not enough happens and, when it does, it's got some problems. There just aren't enough in-match events to keep you occupied, with halves going by with barely a single highlight to show for it. Perhaps it was a symptom of the tactics of your reviewer here, because the AI's simulated games are always full of goals, but even with an attacking formation with wingers supposedly flinging balls in from wide areas, barely a sniff of a highlight.
Even with the dearth of shot clips to watch, though, it would be acceptable were there not so many curious incidents and strange happenings. For a start, goalkeepers virtually always concede shots that are straight at them, shots missed from 45 yards or so are berated in commentary for being sitters, and so on.
And to top it off there's the constant feeling you're missing things, especially when you're losing and there really isn't that much you can do to turn around your fortunes. You can select 'attacking' and maybe put pressing on, but that's all. You can't even move players around during the match, instead forced to either load a saved tactic where they've been 'pre-moved' or go with a new default formation.
So it's not possible to wholeheartedly recommend FM Handheld, at least not in its current state. It'll zip by and you could just switch it to text commentary only to avoid highlight problems, but then you're neutering your game, so you shouldn't have to do this. If you want to take your Football Manager on the go you're better off lugging around a laptop with the brilliant full-fat edition installed.