Championship Manager 5 Review

Taking charge!

Review by Rob Edmondson
Published 12th April 2005

Championship Manager 5

  • Developer: Beautiful Game Studios
  • Publisher: Eidos
  • Release Date: 1st April 2005

With the end of the season fast approaching it is somewhat peculiar to find any new football management simulations appearing in your local game shop, let alone the biggest name in the business. This is, however, the situation we find ourselves in, and it is largely due to the split between SI Games (the previous developers of the Championship Manager franchise) and their long-term publisher Eidos. In the terms of the split, SI Games kept the existing games engine whilst Eidos held on to the name. With both parties then announcing they would be releasing a new game for the current season an exciting contest was in prospect to achieve top spot in what has, in recent years, been a one horse race. Unfortunately for Eidos, SI Games, with their new publishers SEGA, managed to release their new instalment, Football Manager 2005, relatively early in the season leaving a torrid job for Championship Manager’s new developer Beautiful Game Studios to create a game which could match FM2005 in little over a year. Pressure was then further increased when it was announced that Eidos was encountering serious financial difficulties and it was rumoured that only a quick release of CM could save the company. Needless to say, that is exactly what happened and we find ourselves with an extremely bugged release, even with the quickly released patch, which could have been so much more.

To begin with, let’s look at how Championship Manager 5 was hoping to improve on FM2005. The main issue people had with the latter was the speed between matches and this was the area CM5 promised to improve on most. Therefore it is pleasing to see that a significant increase is indeed noticeable and together with the added feature of being able to access all of the games menus whilst it is processing you will find that time spent twiddling your thumbs is minimal. Another point to mention is that the interface is very nicely designed, again using a Windows-esque menu bar style. In general, the day-to-day management, including the transfer system, works well but I say in general because unfortunately, as stated above, CM5 is littered with bugs from which no area of the game escapes. Such bugs are far too numerous to cover fully and in many cases could have been easily fixed.

Firstly, and this is not so much a bug as a symptom of the rush to get the game onto the shelves, there is no previous history for any of the players or staff. This can be an annoyance, especially when managing clubs with which you are unfamiliar, and will definitely not please the purists out there.

Secondly, there are problems with the filter mode in player search. No reset button exists, meaning that every time you enter conditions for a player search you firstly have to remove all of the previously entered data, a time consuming task, before entering the new. Another problem revolves around selecting the player position you require. Here, the developers seem to have got their ‘and’/‘or’ statements the wrong way round, meaning that if you select attacking midfielders and midfielders, for instance, it only picks up players who meet both these demands rather than one or the other, as you’d expect.

There are many minor bugs too, one I noticed being that the Copa America top scorers are combined with the South American World Cup Qualifying scorers to produce a jumbled result, meaning that the top scorer lists are partially filled in before the tournament even starts. Obviously, this doesn’t affect gameplay dramatically, but errors like this are common enough to make it clear there was very little, if any, testing carried out.

If I was to mark the game with only the above problems, it would bear reasonable comparison to FM2005, such is the speed advantage, but the real problems with CM5 only start to come into focus when you experience the match engine.

The match engine on FM2005, as we all know, is by no means perfect but at the third attempt SI Games are at least starting to get a bit of consistency into it, making it easily preferable to watch over the commentary mode. The same cannot be said for CM5 though, which not only has a much worse match engine, but omits to include the commentary option at all.

You can watch highlights of any particular match, or sit through the whole thing. The highlight mode works well enough, apart from the fact that it simply skips from one highlight to the next. You may not immediately see the problem in this but consider you are playing in a defensive match with few chances. There may be a highlight in the 56th minute and then no more for the rest of the match. The game however won’t give you any time to change things, simply finishing the match after the last highlight – an unbelievable bug!

OK, with the highlight mode clearly useless except for after the match we move onto the full match engine which can be watched at a range of speeds from real-time to an instant result. The problem with this however, is to have the match finish in a reasonable time you have to increase the speed till the action is completely unwatchable. This means that you effectively have no way to watch the match, torn between two unusable options.

The actual match engine also has major problems. Almost 50% of the goals I watched were scored in a ridiculous fashion, mostly through tremendous goalkeeping errors, and the players were very poor in predicting the balls path. There are many, many problems with it to be brutally honest, all of which cause you to lose confidence entirely as to whether your tactics are actually having any effect at all. It makes you wonder whether Beautiful Game Studios were perhaps a little ambitious in choosing to have the 2D match in the first place and whether perhaps they may have succeeded in creating a far better experience if they had decided to use the commentary mode this time, for their first attempt. Sound is also a major issue with many of the sound effects laughable. It often seems that it was added in the last minute and this is indeed most likely the case.

To sum up then, Championship Manager 5 is a perfect example of why not to rush your games out before they are ready, as it certainly has the potential to be a very good game with its tremendous speed advantage over its rival and new patches promised. However, until then, reading this review will no doubt be more enjoyable than the CM5 experience.

Review Score: 4.2/10

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

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