Championship Manager – It’s that time of year again

Finally, you’re given the opportunity to just have a word with your players instead of fining them outright.
Championship Manager has garnered a following not seen since the Nuremburg rallies. It dictates your life in a way that many similar football management games have tried but failed to emulate. Those clever chaps at Sports Interactive have always managed to keep one step ahead of the pack with ingenious little touches and a sense of realism that is proving hard to copy.

Where do you start when it comes to dissecting what makes the latest CM such a compelling experience? Well, you could start with the fact that over 50,000 players and every major football club in the world (plus nearly the entire list of other European clubs) have been painstakingly researched and included in CM Season 00/01. Then you add to that the fathomless depths of the gameplay as you cultivate your chosen club to silverware and glory.

All the latest transfers have been taken into account and for the delight of our European cousins, the likes of the Greek, Turkish and Irish leagues have been squeezed on to the CD ROM. What’s more, there is an increased level of interaction with your club which even takes into account the emotional whims of your players and board alike.

For instance, the players in your squad are far more vocal. Footballers will cite bust-ups with other squad members, contract wrangles and even disharmony within your club as any one of a number of reasons for their low morale. Players will now even point the finger at who they see is at fault for poor team performances or dressing room unrest.

As manager, you also get a few more options when it comes to interacting with the CM universe. You can respond in varying ways to tabloid stories about you and your club. The FA can be approached if you want to complain about referees or you can even apply to postpone fixtures for whatever reason.

On a more poignant note you also have increased control over your team through a number of new options. For starters, playmakers can be nominated for the member of the team you feel should run your team’s play. Then, when it comes to disciplining errant players, you can opt to give them an official warning rather than fining them from the outset.

It’s the mix of these new additions and the already classic game engine that makes this the footie management champion for another consecutive season. While the changes are not wholesale they are numerous enough to make CM Season 00/01 an indispensable purchase.

Just as before, this latest version keeps you playing and playing and playing. With each new change you make to your team (adjusting tactics, buying in new players and slaving over the backroom duties) you always want to see the fruits of your labour and with no tangible end to the game, tearing yourself away from your keyboard and more in mobile keypad or touchscreen e.g. SimCity Buildit.

So what if the action is based on glorified spreadsheets, Championship Manager Season 00/01 is the best football management game around. Even if you’ve only got a passing interest in football, the game will hook you and drag you deep into its statistical lair. Before you know it, it’ll be November 2001 and you’ll be saving up for the next version of the game. Quite simply brilliant.

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