In Review: Championship Manager 5
Filed: Thursday, 17th March 2005
By: Matthew O'Greel
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So here we go again for the latest instalment of one of the most popular computer games of all time - the Championship Manager series, which now reaches its fifth version.
For more than a decade Sports Interactive had produced the game which kept a nation of frustrated managers busy for hours on end, so much so that CM was even cited in one divorce case some years ago.
But for v.5 it's all change; Sports Interactive and Eidos parted company after the last version of CM (CM 03/04) citing differences in terms of game direction, and Big Game Studios were drafted in to fill the massive void left by their predecessors.
As if the task wasn't already big enough, BGS find themselves going head to head with Sports Interactive's own Football Manager, a game which continues the theme of CM and which has proved to be an overwhelming success since it's release last November.
So could the new CM continue where it left off and prove a worthy challenger to Football Manager? Well, initial impressions suggest that the game has barely moved on since its last incarnation; all the regular features are present although there are noticeable improvements in terms of the training module, media interaction and most importantly of all, game speed.
For the previous CM's were always a tad on the slow side (and this remains the case with SI's Football Manager) - but not so any more. CM5 runs like Linford Christie on steroids; long delays between updates are now a thing of the past as the game fairly whizzes along.
But is it any good? Well, it has to be said that the interface is reminiscent of a game released ten years ago; to say it is functional is about as good as it gets. All three default skins included are, quite frankly, awful to look at. However this will no doubt be rectified soon by a nation of amateur 'skinners' who will be tasked with bringing the game more up date - visually, at least.
But even more worrying is that the game - as released - is laden with bugs and basic errors. News items with no content appear from time to time, whilst there are a host of other minor bugs (such as a scout suggesting that '0 year old Charlie Sheringham has a great future ahead of him'. Who says kids have no childhood these days?)
There are data errors in abundance too; much has already been made of Coventry City's starting transfer budget of £25m - hardly realistic in an age where gamers demand precision in their detail. For the record, the Hammers start with an equally unlikely budget of £3.1m!
However the small print present within the accompanying blurb reveals that BGS will be releasing a patch on the day of general release - something which adds fuel to the rumours suggesting BGS were forced into an early release by Eidos who are said to be struggling financially.
On the plus side, some areas are a vast improvement on previous versions of the game; the player search facility is excellent, and the option to customise your squad view is a clever (and most useful) idea. The tactics module has also been given a complete overhaul allowing more detailed player instructions, although again bugs have been reported already in terms of implementation.
The 2D pitch - first seen in the last CM - has been given a slightly slanted perspective, and looks very pretty. However it actually detracts from your view of the game, and ends up looking just a tad 'gimmicky'. The highlights are also confusing and abrupt, whilst watching on anything greater than x4 speed is just pointless.
On the face of it CM5 would appear to have a rocky road ahead - however once the necessary patches are released and the skinning community get their act together the game could yet prove to be a worthy challenger to SI's Football Manager, which, based on current releases, is clearly superior.
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