Championship Manager 2010

Football fans are the biggest geeks alive. You may chortle and say that Trekkies, Tolkienites or table top gamers take their hobby as an obsession but none of them to the same extent as a football fan. Your club is your life, the sport takes every spare moment (and plenty of taken moments) and rapidly becomes one of the biggest parts of your life. You watch all the games, watch the rolling news and absorb every bit of trivia about the sport along with every statistic, it’s a full time job being a football fan and the management sim is rapidly becoming part of it. Being a group of massive geeks the traditionally statistic and information heavy genre is a godsend as the hours are frittered away doing everything from planning training to tweaking formations and sitting trawling through 16 year old left backs at four in the morning. Usually Football Manager is the king of the genre and every football fans favourite time waste but the new Championship Manager game got us excited when we previewed it a while back, the promise of a possible challenger to Football Manager being a tantalising one. Does Championship Manager 2010 do enough to become the best the genre has to offer or is it the bridesmaid once more?

The most noticeable difference between this and previous years attempts is that Beautiful Game studios have gone their own direction, cramming the game full of new ideas and one or two real genre defining features. The best example of this is the 3d match engine, which is a world away from the unrealistic Championship Manager 08 and a real market leader when compared to last years effort from Football Manager. Granted you get a few odd moments and there is still no desire to watch a full 90 minutes but on the whole it’s an impressive features. Players act realistically, favouring a foot and spreading the ball about with wing backs overlapping on runs and poachers skulking around the box even when if the highlights don’t involve them. Everything about the match engine is improved from player positioning to goalkeeper intelligence making for a less frustrating experience watching the match, you never feel like it’s the 3d match engine that’s making you lose and that itself is a first. Elsewhere on the new feature front the set piece editor is an absolute dream to use, it’s ease of use married with a depth that can truly influence the course of your managerial career. Watching a pre made set piece win a cup final is magical and a staggeringly rewarding feeling. This element of getting more involved in the training ground stretches to allowing you to watch your players play practice matches to gauge how your tactics are doing and player form in a risk free environment. Again, a genre first and a most welcomed addition. Perhaps the most player friendly addition though is the expansion of ProZone, which helps point out the ins and outs of your teams performance. As previously noted the match engine is best suited to highlights and as such ProZone let’s you watch the highlights but still get the detail that a full 90 minute match allows. It’s a great example of features working with each other adding depth and rounding off the package…something that previous titles simply failed to do.

Unfortunately it’s not a perfect package. The big challenge with any sports game is realism, the big draw for fans is living out their dreams and that’s not possible in a game with any kind of faults. The problem is that Championship Manager 10 is filled with smaller faults that bring the overall package down. The transfer system is tighter than the last time out but transfer budgets are hideously overinflated and you will find yourself the subject of a few bizarre transfer offers. Whilst the games launch came with a nice transfer update there are still a few issues with player positions, player data and how the game regards them (home grown, EU, international) and whilst this sounds nit picking given how good the overall package is it just chips away from the gloss of the package. Realism is a huge part of the genre and on that aspect Championship Manager is still just falling short, but as we’ve seen if the community is embraced then this will come with time.  Beyond that each new feature has the traditional teething problems. The match engine is fantastic but is prone to give even your most stable centre back the odd piece of stroke inducing eccentricity along with handing out the most unrealistic results ever on occasion. I’m sorry but as Rangers I simply will not go from being on an eight game winning streak to slump to a four goal defeat against the bottom team. The new training and set piece interfaces lack necessary feedback so you will have grapple a bit to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, whilst doing it in training is risk free it does defeat the purpose a bit. Again minor but when living with a game for months on end it has to be as tight as possible and at points the little things aggravate immensely.

It’s a shame that there are niggling faults as this is a quality reboot of a franchise that previously was on life support. The new features aren’t gimmicks but give depth and focus to a game that previously felt light and lacking in all the little things that add up to make a quality package. The game now feels full of things to do and see, to get lost in and that’s what management sims are all about. Yes there are problems, yes the match engine can sometimes throw up bizarre moments and yes it still doesn’t have the large and accurate database of it’s competitor but what we have finally is a fun and deep management sim that doesn’t have Football in the title. This year we have a challenger to the throne, an attempt at trying something different and the most important thing is that we have a fun game. Over to you Sports Interactive.







3 responses to “Championship Manager 2010”

  1. Zoey avatar

    Unrealistic results woulddo my head in! I was really looking forward to this but I think I’dend up tearing my hair out! Does look sooooooo improved graphics wise though.

  2. John.B avatar

    The graphics are just fantastic, really can’t speak high enough of the match engine.

  3. Ramsden avatar

    Imagine being a Trekkie, Tolkienite, and football fan all in one… I have no life!

    Personally I don’t give a monkey’s about graphics in a management game. Sensible match results are much more important, and should be pretty much a boiler-plate, taken for granted standard in this kind of game.

    I was looking forwards to this after reading some of the previews, but ultimately I expect I’ll wind up sticking with Football Manager, which on top of doing the basics very very well, has all the minor and obscure foreign leagues and players, which I don’t know if Championship Manager does. My team are the Norwegian Viking FK, and if this game doesn’t have the Taugeslund in it, I’d get bored fairly quickly. Maybe it does? Anyone know?

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