Championship Manager 4 Review

We get to grips with Eidos' latest football management game and challenge for the championship.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 30th September 2003

Championship Manager 4

  • Developer: Sports Interactive
  • Publisher: Eidos
  • Release Date: 28th March 2003

Sports Interactive are one of those groups of developers that can’t seem to do anything wrong! I mean how many of us could take a near perfect football management game and make it immerse the player to new depths, we’re not talking ocean variety here we’re talking deep space. In fact before you start playing decide what the wife gets to keep because by the time you finish playing she’ll be long gone with Juan her Spanish lover.

Sports Interactive have always had to be careful when releasing new versions of Championship Manager, us followers of the series are a strange bunch, change too much and we’ll stick with our older version, don’t add enough new features and we’ll stick with our older version. For Sports Interactive it’s all about balance, especially with Championship Manager 4 and it’s much debated ‘2D match engine’.

Championship Manager 4 adds new levels of depth to the series. Obviously the game features all the new rules that were introduced at the beginning of the new season including the new “transfer window”, but Championship Manager 4 goes further then that. The latest game in the series gives you a real feel of your team. Players are no longer the drones they were previously, they now have personalities and feelings which they convey through their agents, the media and the player information screen.

You can also create custom training schedules to help tackle weaknesses in your side as well as issue player specific instructions during the match. The games transfer system has also been tweaked a little and offers a wider range of options for you to use when trying to prise a clubs prize asset away from them. It also lets you know how far away you are from attracting the players you want at your club. Player’s agents will tell you directly or through the media exactly what they thought of your contract offer.

Of course this review would not be complete with out mentioning the hotly debated “2D match engine”, so does it make any impact on the series? Well, yes it does and you’ll be pleased to know it vastly improves the game and to such an extent you’ll wonder how you ever managed your team without it. The new 2D engine lets you watch your team in near real-time and instantly see any weaknesses and react accordingly and now you’ll be pleased to know there’s no more waiting around to make changes you can do it straight away.

One flaw of Championship Manager 4 is how daunting it must seem to new comers. The sheer number of managerial options available will surely lead to a new player over looking something and end up with a disastrous run of defeats which prematurely ends the career and ultimately their love for the game. One can’t help feeling it could have benefited some sort of tutorial or introduction to show new players all the ins and outs.

For those who fancy a change from managing their favourite club or those who simply fancy a challenge you’ll be pleased to know Championship Manager 4 is the biggest yet with over 39 national leagues and over 200,000 players. So there’s always going to be a challenge there for even the most hardened players.

Championship Manager 4 features an all-new interface, luckily for us veterans the traditional views are still available otherwise we’d be lost. Looks wise Championship Manager 4’s interface is cleaner and menus seem better placed and more accessible then before. The 2D-match view is nothing spectacular graphics wise, it simply shows the pitch from a bird’s eye view with coloured dots representing your players.

The Championship Manager series has always had an exclusion of sound except for the crowd cheering during matches nothing has changed in Championship Manager 4, but what little sound there is serves it’s purpose and fits nicely.

So the boys and girls at Sports Interactive have done it again. They managed to push the most successful football management series that little bit further without it losing its all ready massive appeal. Just enough new features have been added to add that little more depth in key areas that just pull the player and keeps them coming back, even in the face of constant defeat.

Review Score: 9/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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