Back in the mid eighties we all huddled round our little Spectrums and bashed away at the fleshy keys trying to get our favorite team to the top of the league in the popular game of the time, Football Manager. Things have come a long way since then and the Championship Manager series has dominated the football management sims of recent years. Eidos and Sports Interactive have just released the latest version of the popular sim for the current football season. Should football fans everywhere rejoice?Before I get on with the review I would just like to state I have absolutely no interest in football whatsoever and frequently flick the channel over on Saturday afternoon to avoid the results service which to be honest bores me to tears.
To say I was skeptical about the appeal of a football management sim would be an understatement and deep down I dreaded firing this this up in the fear that I would end up slitting my wrists after 10 minutes.Season 00/01 will take you on a wild ride through the ups and down of managing any one of the world’s top football clubs and believe me just about every club you can imagine or know of is included in the game so you’ll find your favorite in there somewhere. The obvious choice during your team selection would be to go for some thing like Manchester United which, lets face it, with the talent they have in their ranks will be an easier job to look after than a team at the bottom of the league table.Championship Manager really is for the dedicated football fan, mainly because it really helps if you know your clubs and players. A lot of time can be spent fumbling around with team selection and transfers if you don’t know your goalies from your midfielders. There is a pretty steep learning curve for the uninitiated but for those who are regular football spotters, this game will be a breeze.As the manager you will be answerable to the guys up top, The Board.
These High Priests of club football want answers and they wanted them yesterday. You’ll not only have to try and appease the board who want club success but skillfully negotiate transfers and hunt out top players looking for a new home or secure more funding to enhance your squad. Don’t try grabbing Alan Shearer from Newcastle for 3 grand cos it ain’t going to happen ;)Just about every angle has been considered in the game, although not much has been added since the last game in the series. This version is spit shined and includes features like media reports, where you can follow what the press are saying about the world of football in general which is also a useful source of information especially when it comes to transfers and league success. All the latest team stats and players are up to date so all your favorite players are in there, some familiar and some not so familiar from overseas.So how does it work? The game is split into a variety of different menus and submenus. Each match is calculated before the actual start of the season so you know who you’ll come up against in the not too distant future. It’s up to you to make sure you have the best squad ready for tougher games and juggle injuries as the season progresses.
Navigating round the game is simple, simply click on the area you want to focus on hop back and forth between sections with the use of the navigation arrows. Don’t expect anything graphically stunning, this is a management game where it’s all about making right decision, not actually playing the game of football itself. The in-game menus also make use of handy filters that help sift through the vast amounts of information in the sections, this is particularly handy when looking for new players.In the lead up to a match or major tournament you’ll have to select your squad and subs, once that’s all sorted out you can get ready for kick-off. One you start the game you will be presented with game commentary which will be flashed up on the screen as the match progresses, watch this carefully, it will highlight weak spots in the team, who’s doing their job and who isn’t and also helps you make decisions about placing and timing of substitutes.
The in-match menus allow you to check on everything from territorial advantage as the match progresses to yellow cards and injuries. Watch everything closely, it could be the difference between a win or a loss. Once you get the hang of how everything work’s and are confident with your managing skills the commentary speed and game can be turned up to get you through the matches quicker and back into the all important management screens. I know this may sound a bit strange, but while watching the commentary as the games went on, I really wanted to see the game, watch the players run round the pitch and get involved in the action, this is a feature that I think should be an optional addition to a game like this, it makes it seem more ‘real’.CM also sports a multiplayer option over LAN and Internet although not sure how riveting that would be.
The game also comes with and an editor which allows you to tweek and change various aspects f the already extensive club and player database included in the game. The game also comes with a picture editor which gives the ability to change many aspects of the game interface by making your own bitmap images and importing them into the game. To show off to your mates, there is also the ability to print out stats and figures which will no doubt be banded around pub tables by CM fans.This latest installment hasn’t really taken the game forward too much but does offer some new features and updated team/players for this season. One thing I would say is the game itself is a must for football fans but if you’re not a hardcore footy follower this probably won’t appeal with it’s fairly steep learning curve, although I would have to say it’s pretty addictive even for the non-football fan. Season 00/01 is a solid game building on the success of Championship Manager3 but at the same time lacks a certain atmosphere.
If you’re mad about football management this is still the best game around, it will offer hours of game play. Footy fans, add this to your shopping list.