Championship Manager 5 PC CD-ROM
Developed by Beautiful Game Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Championship Manager 5, an introduction.
Without a demo, without reviews and without a general lack of information Eidos and Beautiful Game Studios have released the latest in the Championship Manager series. Why has there been such a lack of information? Well let's just say that by the time you get to the end of this review you'll know why. We've always been given review code for previous CM games but this one was different in that our emails have gone unanswered with anything related to CM5. Don't worry though because we have money, we know where the shops are and we are going to give you the facts regarding this fifth title in the series. I would also like to make it clear that the game was reviewed using the first patch that was available on the day of release to give the game a fair chance.
What's the game about?
Football management of course, well at least that's what it's supposed to be about. Before the release of Championship Manager 5 the series was revered and held in high esteem by football fans all over the globe. However when Sports Interactive and Eidos split we all knew that it would be different from then on. Eidos retained the name and Sports Interactive kept the source code and database. Eidos formed Beautiful Game Studios to work on CM5 whilst SI teamed up with SEGA to create Football Manager 2005 a game that many recognise as the true successor to Championship Manager: Season '03-04. Eidos thought the game could be better if they took control of it which in many ways defies logic because no other development team had ever created a game to rival the work of the Collyer brothers and their development team, Sports Interactive.
What's good about the game?
Usually for a Championship Manager game this section would be easy to write but I can honestly say it's been a struggle to think of many things. Eidos have been shouting speed, speed, speed at us for months in reference to the fact that the game is supposed to be quicker than the Sports Interactive games. Creating a game with all the 20+ leagues takes only a few minutes which is excellent and the day to day processing seems fairly quick too (although this is not much quicker than FM2005 to be honest and whether you are running one league or all of them the processing times are fairly similar which is strange). The tactics now allow you to not only set runs but also feeds too. The training has been streamlined making it easier to understand. These last two 'pros' are not as worthwhile as you might think though because different tactics seem to have no effect and the training always seems to work wonderfully well and it's only when a player is injured do you see the red arrows that indicate that progress is not being made. Player attributes can now be either out of 20 or 100. There is also a 'Player Cam' that allows you to watch how a player is performing in a game. Whilst this sounds good though it's worth is debatable.
What's not so good about the game?
Yes it's quicker but the speed comes at a price. There is such a lack of detail in the game it's shocking. Results seem unrealistic in a lot of cases with teams scoring silly amounts (7 goals and upwards is not uncommon). Duplicate players, players and staff at the wrong teams and in some cases players are classified as playing in the wrong positions. Fictitious staff members and crazy player attributes are also included. The game claims to have used the Opta Index which must be a joke according to the statistics in the game. Crikey it wouldn't have taken much to have had a quick look at a previous CM game and altered the stats a little here and there. They could have even asked the fans of the teams to rate the players and it would have been more accurate than this. Throughout the game you're peppered with ridiculous media articles that describes completely unrealistic transfer speculation such as Rio Ferdinand to Southampton for £8m and such like. The message filtering is poor too and you either have to read all the messages or miss all of them that don't need a response. There's a lot of things wrong, far too many to mention here to be honest. You can start with a 'small team' an almost immediately apply for the best jobs available and get them which is just crazy. Transfer negotiations seem to take forever to conclude and prove ultimately frustrating. There's a real lack of free transfers making it difficult if your team hasn't any money. Players have no history when you begin a new game so you can't check on their past records. You'll notice that the English league matches are refereed by foreign refs (Japanese, Portuguese etc.) which just doesn't occur in real life. You can't see live updates of the league tables during a match either. Substitutions that you've ordered are not always carried out. There are way too many errors in the messages that appear too. There is just so much wrong it makes you want to cry. I should also mention that there's no multiplayer game in any shape or form. If you want multiplayer then you're expected to shell out for CM Online on a monthly basis which is way out of order. International management is also no longer possible which is shocking.
The Match Engine.
No we hadn't forgotten the match engine because it deserves a paragraph all to itself. The games are played on a titled 2D pitch in an attempt to give you a clearer picture of the action. In truth it looks pretty dire. The players look like those discs you have to collect in Pikmin and the ball bounces around rather like a beach ball which is actually quite amusing to watch. Goalkeepers obviously wear the new Teflon Gloves © as they fumble the ball into the net all too frequently. Shots that hit the woodwork can (but not always) rebound to almost the half-way line. Defenders back away from the ball all too often and score some great own-goals. It's a long way away from the refined match engine that you can find in FM 2005. The speed of the matches is also an issue with the game. By default you can watch the match in real-time (it isn't 90 minutes though as the game is speeded up when it goes out of play) or you can watch the game at increased speeds of 2X, 6X or 60X but these are almost unwatchable. Selecting Fast Result will quickly go to the goals whilst the Highlights option will supposedly show you all the highlights in addition to the goals. Some of the so called highlights are really silly though and of no importance. In short it's a very poor match engine that isn't going to please many fans of the series.
How does it look?
lf I had to pick the worst element of Championship Manager 5, aside from the match engine, it would have to be the look of the game, because it's a major step back for the series. The three skins look like they have been thrown together in minutes rather than months and the game lacks the style and clean interface of the previous Championship Manager games. It's not only the match and interface graphics that are poor though and without a busy cursor, poor placement of buttons (the continue button is a tab that changes it's label according to the situation). and no shortcut keys you'll be really disappointed.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
There's little to comment on here as all the information in the game is text based. The sounds that are there for the match are very basic though so you are not missing much. What I will say is that in most cases a poor choice of fonts has been made and some text is not as easy on the eyes as it should be.
There's little doubt that the game was bought out without reviews and without a demo because Eidos hoped fans of the series would buy the game based on it's passed merits. It's not a total disaster but it's not far from it to be perfectly fair. Even if the most glaring bugs were fixed you'd still have a game that feels so very basic and old-fashioned that it's just not on. Having taken control of WBA I was surprised to walk the Premier league without really doing anything (no offence intended Baggies fans) which suggests it's far too easy. The official forums for the game have been filled with gamers who feel ripped off and justifiably so. The game is a cash in on the Championship Manager name that Sports Interactive established and it deserves to flop. This might sound harsh but £29.99 for such a poor game is way out of order. If you must try the game wait for the demo because otherwise you'll be in for a hell of a shock to see just how low the Championship Manager series has sunk.
Overall Game Rating: 3.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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The game's information is text based so there's no problem there. A better font could have been used though. However the quality of the game leaves a lot to be desired and it's evident from this that although the series is not dead it's time to call a priest in for the last rites. Don't be fooled by this game because it isn't the Championship Manager you all know and loved.