Championship Manager: Season 01/02
Here we go again. The football season is under way, early optimism has been shattered on the rock of ineptitude, and a bleak British winter is looming fast. What better excuse to shut the curtains and set about creating a footballing empire? Almost as much a part of the football calendar as it is the gaming calendar, only a fool would bet against Season 01/02 dislodging its predecessor in the top ten and nestling there for a comparable period of time. Or at least until the highly anticipated Championship Manager 4.
This is now the third update of CM3, and it is tempting to suggest that with all hands on CM4, it has simply been knocked out to boost the coffers in the meantime. However, that would be to do a disservice to the legions of researchers who ensure the accuracy of the player database, thus creating the staggeringly realistic experience that fans have come to expect. Of course, by realistic we don't mean motion-captured faces, as in an age of visual extravagance, Championship Manager remains defiantly graphics-free, offering an open goal to those who seek to devalue it.
Fortunately (for Eidos), always had at least one CM evangelist in the camp, a rich heritage stretching from launch editor Paul Lakin, through Patrick McCarthy, Jeremy Wells, and my good self, with Mark Hill (no relation) snapping eagerly at my heels. It's not without its knockers though. Chris Anderson dismisses it as a glorified spreadsheet, and following successive relegations with Coventry City, Dave Woods won't have it in the house.
But for those who appreciate its merits, it's an enthralling experience, and one that is unique to each individual player. Whereas Mark Hill seeks European glory with the continent's glamour clubs, for me it's always been about Chester City. No more, no less. That's the team I support, so that's the team I play as in the game. I know nothing of the likes of Saviola, reduced to trawling the lower leagues for inexpensive journeymen while struggling to field 1I fit players.
It has become a curious symbiosis, watching Chester at the weekend (20 games last season) and then spending large chunks of my leisure time pretending to manage them. In his preview, Mark talked about players in the game developing personalities. This is absolutely true, but considerably more so when you actually know some of the players in real life. As such, I find it difficult to drop a goalkeeper who recently complimented me on an article, and likewise I am loathe to award the captaincy to a player with whom I had a minor scuffle at the end-of-season party. I am quite possibly losing my mind.
But that's the power of the game, which can instil dedication almost on a par with real football. Naturally, its prime audience is football fans, as attested by the fact that I am writing these words in a hotel room in Munich the day before England's World Cup qualifier with Germany.
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Anyway, to update or not to update? That's what you really want to know. If you've read this far, you're probably already a CM fan, but is it worth forking out another 25 quid (it seems they've decided not to lie about the price this year) for what is essentially the same game? It was hard to see what else could be added after last year's version, and many of the changes are simply functional, such as the ability to compare two players' attributes on the same screen or make notes within the game. There's also an option whereby attributes can be initially masked, putting more emphasis on scouting reports, and scouts can also be sent to analyse opponents.
Mainly though, it's about bringing it into line with the modern game, which can change considerably over the course of a year, in terms of personnel, wage structures or EU regulated transfer systems, for instance. To be honest, if the changes weren't there, nobody would really miss them, but having grown accustomed to them there is no going back, even if it's simply the fourth official indicating the amount of time added on.
Buying the new version of Championship Manager is the equivalent of buying a new team shirt, or perhaps a new season ticket. And the cost of the game will be more than covered by the amount of money you'll save sat at home on your copious arse.
Championship Manager Season Second Opinion
There's two minutes of stoppage time left and we're 4-0 up. It should be safe to bring on Mark Hill from the subs bench to prove that Steve Hill isn't in bed with Eidos...
We've been accused of I sycophancy when it comes to Champ Man. Our 90+ scores 7 and Classic awards are as predictable as the release of W another update to coincide with ' the start of the new footballing season. So to add some more credibility and prove that my namesake doesn't receive regular brown envelopes from Sports Interactive, I've been drafted in to provide an alternate view. I'm not going to pretend that I'm not a massive fan, or even voice the usual cry from the terraces that these slight updates are nothing but a con. The fact is, if I didn't get a free copy of each version, I'd go out and buy one with my own money. (Anyone who's met a games journalist will comprehend the enormity of that statement) But I can also bring out a scalpel and nit-pick at all its tiny imperfections in order to demonstrate that it isn't the best thing ever created (that's going to be CM4).
For starters, let's not fall into the usual idiotic criticism of saying it has no graphics and looks like a spreadsheet. There are more helpful and constructive points to be made.
Instead, let's start with the small matter of your opponents' super-goalkeepers. We're sure they're there to make scores realistic, but it's annoying to find that you can still have 23 shots on goal only for their keeper to have the match of his life and stop them all, while they need only a couple of shots to clinch victory. Another niggle is that working the transfer market is often more fun than playing the fixtures. The matches in 01/02 are slightly better, but they can still be a drag, specially when you're two seasons in and playing some lowly side And this version has the added disadvantage of introducing the new transfer system, which makes every good player in the game demand a new, massively improved contract in the first few months of the season. Has that really been happening to such a great extent?
But let's not forget the biggest problem. Champ Man is not only an addiction, it's a sickness. You can waste valuable months of your life, feverishly playing into the small hours. The dependence is so bad that I've found myself not even enjoying it but still being unable to stop playing. This game promotes masochism!
So it's rubbish then. Now go away and let me get back to playing - I've got a big match coming up. My score? Fore once Steve Hill and I are in almost total agreement, but I might have shaved a single percentage point off.
Download Championship Manager: Season 01/02
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP