Championship Manager 4
by Eidos Interactive
Without a doubt it's one of the most anticipated games of all time. The Championship Manager series is legendary. With each new title PC sales records are broken (CM4 has created a new record for the number of sales over the first weekend). Championship Manager 4 represents more than incremental improvements though. The main attraction is the inclusion of the 2D match system that allows you to see what your players are doing. It may not seem like it but this represents a big risk on the part of the developers as for the first time they are open to criticism as to what the match plays like. Is Championship Manager 4 another classic? Well the answer to that is almost, but not yet. Read on for an explanation.
I'm not going to go into great detail about all the new features because there simply isn't enough time to do so. The main highlights are the 39 national leagues, over 200,000 players, improved training, improved tactics, improved transfer system and the 2D match engine, which is of course the main focus of attention. You can now either read the match commentary in the old fashioned way, have key highlights shown to you, have extended highlights show to you or you can go the whole hog and watch the whole 90 minutes (which is actually around 50 minutes in real time). The final option of watching the whole game may seem a little crazy but you'll be so impressed with how informative this is that you'll find yourself wanting to do it more and more. Watching the whole game allows you to fully see what is going wrong and allows you to make more effective decisions. You can switch between the option at any time so if you want to watch all of the last 15 minutes then just switch to full match and you'll see the last 15 minutes, kick by kick.
The depth of the game far exceeds that of the last Championship Manager. Fancy looking after the reserve team and under 19s? No problem. They even have their own leagues this time around. The training is now far easier to understand. Sports Interactive enlisted the help of ex-Liverpool star Ray Houghton to create a realistic training module for the game and it's a big improvement over the one found in CM3 and its off-shoots. Trying to sign players is also far more complex and the range of contract options is staggering. You can buy a first option on a player and add a wealth of clauses to the contracts for that extra touch of realism.
It's not all about additions though. The with ball/ without ball option from CM3 has been taken out. This has caused a lot of upset amongst fans who have made their voices heard on the official message boards. It's a strange decision especially as you can now see if those instructions were actually working. The fog of war option that allowed you to mask certain attributes of unknown players until you had scouted them is still there but the option to knock it off has now been taken out which again has not gone down too well. However you could argue that this does add to the realism but it's funny to find that a player you sell will often have his attributes masked when he's at his new team, which is kind of silly.
Championship Manager 4 should have been our first 10 out of 10 game at deaf gamers and it would've been if it wasn't for one thing ... bugs. Yes, out of the box the game feels like a beta rather than a release title. The game feels laggy. There are delays changing between screens, team form tables that tell lies and show teams as having won the last 6 matches when they haven't, news messages that your team has been knocked out of the Champions League when in fact you've just qualified. The list of basic faults goes on and on. Around 10pm on the day of release an 'enhancement pack' (patch) was released but to be honest it only cures a small amount of the problems and already a second 'enhancement pack' (patch) is being created. When all of the problems are fixed it will be a classic but out of the box, it isn't.
Game Rating: 8.5/10