Championship Manager 2007
After the split between Sports Interactive and Eidos, Championship Manager lost a lot of its momentum. What was once the Maradonna of footie sims quickly became nothing more than an average lower league player. Meanwhile, Sports Interactive got a new home at Sega and with their Football Manager series it’s been playing with the competition for a couple of years. Eidos and new developer Beautiful Game Studios promised a lot of good though, and the question now is whether they managed to kick the ball through the legs of Football Manager.
To start you need to, yes, choose a team. You can take the helm of high and low ranked teams from 26 different, mostly European, teams. The North and South Conference League, 6th league in the UK, are added, but no-one will lay awake from that. My choice traditionally fell on Racing Genk. You know, that club you have to be proud of if you live around here and not get stones thrown at you in public. New is also that you can immediately get to work as coach of the national team which is a fun addition that can give you fun during the weeks with interland soccer.
Whether you start as coach of a country, club, or both, the first thing you’ll notice is the new look. Of course it aren’t earth shattering graphics but the whole does like nice and gives a good overview. I don’t expect more from a management game, although FM does score better in this area. CM2007 in comparison feels a bit colder but for the rest the looks of a game like this is of little importance of course.
The developers did their homework as CM2007 is reasonably up to date. The players are with the correct clubs, only the very recent transfers are missing (f.i. Ingrao to Lierse). Concerning player stats a lot less effort has been obviously made as f.i. Jan Moons gets his highest score (82) for excentricity while Alex Da Silva gets his almost lowest rating for dribbling. For those that don’t know: Moons is as excentric as a flower pot and Da Silva is a real dribbler a la Maradonna.
You don’t only get info on the soccer qualities but also on the character and condition of your players. Vandenbergh in this game is a tough guy and Paolo Maldini as layal as a castrated labrador. If you want to know more about your troops you can get a coaching report on each one of them and these are quite extensive and can be used as a guideline for selecting your best team.
The games themselves can be followed through the classic text matches and the semi-3D match engine. Here you can choose which phases of the game (goals, red or yellow cards, corners, penalties, …) are worth checking out. It all doesn’t look too great and it’s hardly realistic. Still it remains fun to see your guys score, eventhough it often happens in the most bizar ways.
After the games it’s time for the real work. The most important new feature is Prozone, some sort of analysis tool that’s also used by real top clubs. It gives you the possibility to watch played games and focus on one certain action (shot, pass, …), one particular player in one specific time period (first half, first quarter, last minute, …). You can analyse a played game to the finest detail and uncover the biggest pain points of your own team or adversary. This is really hardcore but certainly worth the effort if you’ve got the time and willingness to delve into this.
If you’re not a stats freak and want to finish games as quickly as possible, you can let a lot of tasks be done by your assistent manager. Transfers, contracts, team setups, … the poor man does it all. If you want to go for instant success you can also choose for a Club Benefactor, a virtual Roman Abramovitsj who will give you some more financial space with which you can get real top players. More money does mean more pressure and the ambitions of the club will rise along. Without benefactor the board of Genk f.i. expects a decent ranking at the end of the season but with one they want nothing less than the title and European success.
Not the most important but certainly the coolest innovation may very well be the so-called team talks. Before, during and after the game you can motivate your guys with a good team speech. You can choose from three options going from words of encouragement to really starting to yell at them. Although you get the necessary feedback, the effect isn’t always clear. Most of the time you’ll hear that one of the players did or didn’t get extra motivated. Also you can give them individual instructions or compliment or criticise them. Unfortunately, more than once they will react illogical to your actions. The interaction remains fun but could have been worked out better.
The most important criterium of a management game is its addiction factor in my eyes. This type of game will never blow you away, may even be a little boring, but you’ll keep playing and keep coming back. One more match, one more transfer, let’s see when I can start in the Eurocup. I’m really a sucker for these games and can loose myself in them for quite some time. Still I doubt that I’ll be playing Championship Manager 2007 a lot after this review. Maybe the lack of multiplayer has something to do with it, but I’ll be going to bed at a decent time the coming days. Who knows that Football Manager, and I certainly hope not, will change this.
Championship Manager 2007 is absolutely not a bad game but it isn’t a top game either. It’s comparable with Racing Genk: fun team with a couple of good extras, but not good enough. With a couple of innovations, the devs tried to differentiate it from the Football Manager series and that’s admirable. Still it lacks the same feel, the same addictive vibe from its competitor. CM2007 is a pass in the right direction but not (yet) a goal.