By Neil McCormick
From 1992 until 2004, Championship Manager was the name in regards to football management similators. Unfortunately the developers for Eidos left and went to Sega to create the Football Manager Franchise.
With them went the quintessential database, which is the heart of any football management game.
As a consequence, Football Manager became the new dominant force in football simulation games. To give a parallel it was like the fall of Liverpool circa 1989 and the rise in dominance of Manchester United during the 1990-2000s.
Eidos responded by creating a new team – Beautiful Game Studio, and gave them the remit of bringing the game back to the pinnacle of the top flight.
In what could be regarded as a foolhardy move given the current economic crisis, Eidos ran a promotion from Mid August to 11 september 2009, that gamers could buy the game for as much as they wanted to spend from a minimum of 1p. This was the first time such a promotion had been run in gaming environment. Initial reports suggest that this gamble has paid off with an unprecendented level of interest in the game.
Championship Manager is not alone in having to deal with the problem that at the heart of it all – it is essentially a graphic front end to a database spreadsheet. This can only result in an almost sterile environment.
Basically, you will be dealing with three main areas, while you act as manager, the email screen – which you will use for transfers. The Squad screen. in this you assign squad numbers, choose your first team and requisite substitutes. Finally the Tactics screen – in which you set the formation. you can also give individual players specific instruction. A new feature is the ability to design how your team will respond to set pieces.
One problem, I personally have encountered with management games, is the daunting feeling that you have so much to do. You almost feel it would be easier if you could assign duties to another person.
Well Championship Manager has acted on this, and provides an Assistant Manager feature. You can use this to offload those onerous tasks you do not fancy. For example it can be used to set the training, or run the reserves on your behalf.
Before you know it you will become a Rafa Benitez style manager – totally obsessed with the minor details as you struggle with the quest of becoming the top manager for your chosen league.
Compared to Football Manager, at times the interface seems harsh. For example the Transfer system takes a lot more effort to set up a decent scouting network. Its not as simple as ticking a few boxes.
The jury is currently out, the new Football Manager, is undergoing final checks ahead of launch. Untill we can compare, it is hard to say whether Championship Manager is “Champion” or a runner up. What I can say however, Eidos and their development team deserve our praise for giving us a game worthy of carrying on the Championship Manager legacy of the past.
8 out of 10