Championship Manager 2010

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There’s a recipe to a good football management game. You need an easy to use interface, a game world packed with accurate players/stats all presented with a robust match engine and complete control over your players. If you get those then you have a game that will have you awake until 5am scouting Welsh left backs and tweaking training, get it wrong and you have no chance of competing. Previous Championship Manager titles have unfortunately fallen into the latter group when compared to market leader Football Manager, presenting a myriad of bugs and small gameplay complaints bringing down what is invariably an ambitious game. This year however there is genuine buzz over Championship Manager 2010 and whisperings that for the first time in years a real alternative to Football Manager may have emerged. So it was with great anticipation that I sat down with a preview build of Championship Manager 2010 to get a feel for the first of the football manager titles of the new season.

The fundamentals are the same as any other management game. You pick a club and handle everything from training to last minute substitutions and signing dodgy overpriced Italians on the last day of the transfer window. What gives the usual day to day running a different flavour is the training mode, which aims to involve you that bit more in the weekday aspects of your club and not just encouraging you to go from Saturday to Saturday. Training drills now allow you to try out attacking and defensive plans, not only giving crucial practice but letting you see who is on form and who isn’t through the match engine. Training is further boosted by the introduction of a set piece editor, which is possibly the most compulsive gameplay addition I’ve encountered in a long time. You set your team up and plan out who passes to who, who runs where and then your team will try it out before your very eyes. Get set for tweaking aplenty and the feeling of joy when in game your team uses your set piece technique and scores. Whether or not Championship Manager 2010 turns out to be a success I get the feeling that the set piece editor will find itself a staple of all management games after this, it’s that useful. The other much trumped feature is improved scouting. Instead of hiring a scout and sending them out to a region (with the accuracy of the report on him being dependant on the skills of the scout) you have a world map where you can invest in specific regions which in turn improves the amount of players and quality of players recommended to you. It’s a nice change and undoubtedly more realistic but I’m not yet convinced that it’s any better or worse than the previous method.

Set-piece designer
Genius, hit the ball towards the net!

The big change however is the inclusion of a 3D match engine, hot off the heels of Football Manager’s 3D match engine last year. Essentially like watching a game of Fifa but from 7 years ago it lets you see the action in much more detail and with real players (the cones from last year are gone). With it brings a certain barrier as to who can play the game (system specs wise) but the fully adjustable graphical quality means that most modern laptops should have no problem running it. This makes it all the more impressive that the match engine blows Football Manager 2009’s effort out the water. Excusing detail for animations, the games flow more like real football and less like you are watching the 2D match engine but with 3D players; the collection of animations assigned to specific players means players will play like individuals. Have a diva in your team? Watch him do a trillion step overs before diving and feigning injury. It’s enjoyable and emotive to watch, the simple act of watching a real game means the usual tendency to just hit the highlight speed up to very fast so you can blaze through a season is gone, replaced by the desire to watch so you can keep an eye on how a player performs or what he does. It’s very clear a lot of work has gone into the match engine and it’s paid off superbly.

Beyond the big features, numerous smaller tweaks help round off the package nicely. Tactics have been given a small overhaul, with more control over how your team plays on and off the ball along with enhanced assistant manager advice letting you know how opposition players are looking. If someone is looking short tempered you can target him and try to get a red, equally if someone is looking dire you can give him all the room in the world and double up on their danger man. Team talks and general player interaction are back and still represent the best in the business with great control over what you say and how you say it, giving you full control over whether you are Mourinho or Wenger. The final addition of note is CM Live, which is a paid-for feature that let’s you buy a data update of the current state of your team. It sets you up nicely for buying to turn your team around from the rut they are experiencing in real life – wish fulfilment football essentially. It does raise the question that a more robust data editor than is being promised could perhaps give the community the ability to do this themselves for free as well as numerous fantasy scenarios but that shouldn’t detract from a fascinating feature.

We have come a long way from text only commentary

As it stands Championship Manager 2010 is a fascinating package and the time spent with it has been highly enjoyable. The data issues which have plagued the series are still present, however pre day 1 patches are common in the genre and until then I can’t give an indication of how the data is in game. Putting that aside we have a true improvement over the last attempt and perhaps a real competitor for the crown of best football management game, which can only benefit we humble fans of football. I await the full release with baited breath.







8 responses to “Championship Manager 2010”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    Eugh football. I’m not reading this blog, but I’m sure it’s great. If you’re going to be a manager of a football team, will you be Captain Crunchy. The managerial equivalent to a tasty breakfast?

  2. Barry avatar

    If he was manager, he would be Coach Crunch! Not Captain Crunch! >.<

  3. MrCuddleswick avatar

    Interesting. It’s about time a proper 3D match engine was brought in. A key problem I’ve had with Football Manager in the last 5 years is that the only way I could seem to tell if my decisions were correct was through trial and error – a 3D match engine would speed up that process. I wasn’t impressed with FM’s attempt at it last year, but this CM effort looks better.

    The paid-for data update is a bit of a swizz, isn’t it? Is that in place of the free data update patches that FM gets?

  4. John.B avatar

    No cuddles, they get free patches as well. But this way the data is correct even down to table positions. It’s more a data editor decision I think.

    And I agree, FM last season was weak. Too much time spent on team talks and press conferences that made little change anyway and not enough on refining importance of tactics etc etc. I’m really hoping the full game lives up to the preview because the genre needs competition.

    Oh and I’d be Gaffer if I was a manager, no Crunch involved. Also being Scottish I’d be a genius.

  5. MrCuddleswick avatar

    FM needs to regain its focus. CM in the late nineties was so great because it was both simple and sophisticated. Playing FM has become like supervising a house of cards. Make one wrong comment and it all comes tumbling down.

    Why would you want league positions updated as you play? That takes away some of the charm, surely.

  6. van-fu avatar

    “Also being Scottish I’d be a genius.”

    Oh, dear God. Please explain to me what happened to George Burley.

  7. John.B avatar

    Burley was a budget option, never should have been at this level of management. He’s good for low level English football but anything higher and he struggles.

    Ergo Scotland was too hard for him.

    Also I would be a genius, we make the best managers. Fact.

  8. Ben avatar

    “He’s good for low level English football but anything higher and he struggles.”

    Should fit at home in the SPL then 😛

    I remember the very first CM game, it stole my life in such a way thats been hardly replicated. I’ve not played one in such a long time though, for fear if anything of just getting sucked back in.

    Is there an option to create your own league with friends online or anything similar?

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