The Championship manager franchise has been around since 1992 but in 2004 the whole franchise changed, with Championship Manager turning into Football Manage,r when SI Games split from Eidos. This left Championship Manager in the hands of Gusto Games, a fairly unknown developer based in Oxfordshire. The game features many leagues, even including the conference north and south for fans of the lower division football or players who like the challenge of getting a conference team up to the premiership.
At first glance the game looks promising. Gusto has really looked at the match engine and you can even watch games in 3D (something Football Manager doesn’t have). Unfortunately, the 3D match engine really doesn’t work well and is highly unrealistic. I’ve even seen keepers kick the ball out, hit a player and bobble in, more than once in a game. The whole match engine slows the game down too much, watching every game in the season would take days even on the fastest setting. The 3D match engine is of course optional however and you can have just the classic text view (or a number of others including other results and player stats), which can be set at a fast speed if you want to get through games quicker. A nice addition is that you can make impulsive changes whilst the match is going without having to go into the tactics screen; subs can be made with a few button clicks this really saves a lot of time.
A massive letdown is the injuries system. Like before when a player is recovering you can still play him maybe for half of the match, but in CM07 if you play them at all it usually results in them going off injured very quickly. What’s even more annoying is that players get injured very easily–in one game I had four people who were 100% fit before the game go off injured. This really is highly unrealistic and makes playing games after having these injuries with a half decent squad very hard–even with one of the top clubs.
Like previous iterations of the game, it has countless statistics on players and more unknown players have to be scouted in order for you to see their full statistics. An addition in Football Manager 2007 is that players may even have to be scouted more than once to get their full statistics, which gives a more realistic feel to the game. Like Football Manager, CM07 offers a team-talk system for before the game and at half time. What you say can affect the player’s mentality and change a game around in your favour. You need to be careful about what you say, as ultimately you want this to boost morale and not get your player’s heads down. Another addition to this system is that you can also give instructions for the different positions (e.g. telling the midfield to be attacking or direct). You can’t win every time with this system, but once you get used to your team you start to learn what to say in different situations.
A nice improvement in the game is that you have much more interaction with the board than previous games. You can say what you expect to achieve in the league and any other cups you may be in. You can also do the usual such as requesting more funds for transfers, expansion and more money for players’ wages; how well you’re doing in the league can effect what the board will give you.
As usual, transfers are a big part of the game. I have noticed that they are a little less realistic than usual; I was able to sign Thierry Henry for Manchester United, which we all know would never ever happen. The board will block transfers if they believe that you are over-paying for a certain player, which can make signing some players extremely difficult if they are valuable.
The game claims to have an “intuitive new control system” but it actually offers a very clunky and cumbersome control system that even makes the most basic of things a chore. A lot of the controls rely on the bumper buttons, but the menus are very confusing and even editing tactics can take a large amount of time, which can get frustrating. I couldn’t help but feel very disappointed about this as it really does make the game much less fun and very annoying at times.
Graphically the game isn’t amazing as it’s mainly text but it does the job perfectly well and shouldn’t be marked down for this. It uses some nice background images and buttons which makes the game quite easy on the eyes when playing for long periods of time. You can change the screen size in the game, I’m not really sure of the reasoning behind this as I would assume most people would want it full screen but it is another option nevertheless. Sonically the game is extremely poor and the sound effects seem like a total last minute job–they may as well have not included them in the game. The background music is not too bad but Gusto really should have tried to spend some time on making the sound more atmospheric.
The game does have a live multiplayer but it’s very disappointing. You can go head to head against other managers but it’s very difficult to find a game and all in all it’s not any better than just playing through your league.
Overall the game is not terrible. It is a bit unrealistic, clunky and unbalanced but it can be fun to play. However, I cannot think of any reasons at all why you would buy this over Football Manager 2007; it offers fewer options, is less realistic and is much harder to control making the experience a lot worse in my opinion. Championship Manager still has some work to do if it wants to be the best Football Management simulator.
Originally Written By: Joe