It's been a while
When Eidos and Sports Interactive parted ways, they divided up the riches of the Championship Manager series between them. Sports Interactive took the engine while Eidos held on to the name, I am sure many of you will be familiar with this. While Sports Interactive flourished with their new Football Manager series, Eidos struggled to put together a coherent match engine, let alone put out a decent game. Their first attempt was so appalling many turned the other cheek to find solace with FIFA Manager and Football Manager instead.
I had no plans to return myself until Eidos came up with a seriously funky plan to draw people back into the franchise. They issued a simple press release, stating that punters could 'pay what they want' for the digital version of Championship Manager 2010. Now that was one offer I could not resist. I considered the risks based on the game's recent track record and arrived at a value of just under 8 pounds. A few days later an e-mail arrived with a download link and I was set to go.
Off on the wrong foot
The game and I started out being a bit disappointed in one another. I am sure -it- felt that it was worth more than 8 pounds and decided to crash on me the moment I changed the game settings. When I restarted, the game showed me a garbled startup screen that might have looked cool if I had gorged myself on magic mushrooms. Then, when it was done loading, the game introduced me to a rather dated interface that might have looked fine had it served a game from maybe six years ago. Maybe the 8 pounds was still too much? I reminded myself that footy managers are about gameplay rather than eye candy, buckled up and started playing to give it a fair chance. I'm glad I did.
First, I needed to get acquitted with my club, its players and its finances. I prefer a play style that has three central defenders, two wingers, a defending central midfielder, two central midfielders and two strikers. The wingers and midfielders have orders to support any and all forward action. Many teams aren't set up for this so I first needed to do some heavy 'hiring & firing'. I quickly got rid of anyone who didn't fit into my vision and also kicked out the players that I had on loan, which included the three best players on the first team. Ouch! But, better to take the pain now than invest in players for some other team. Running an 'aspiring premier league team' (ie: I wasn't there just yet), my transfer budget turned out to be limited. Hiring Free Agents seemed the way to go.
Tools of the trade
Here, Championship Manager proofed to possess excellent tools that allow you to filter the available data in great detail. The results are presented in such a way that you can quickly determine if it is worth opening the more detailed player profile. When you do, you can easily add the player to your shortlist or issue an offer to the player or his club. You can also ask a scout to check out the player. Player profiles come in various stages of completion, ranging from 1% ("Bill who?") to 100% (he wears black Björn Borg underwear). Your scouts will add new knowledge to the profile even if the player does not play any matches during the allotted time: they will simply watch match reports to fill in the blanks.
You can also spend money on your scouting network. By assigning a monthly budget, your knowledge of a certain area will increase gradually over time. This isn't fast, but if you prefer players from a particular region it is an excellent way to gain and maintain solid information. The only thing lacking in the scouting filters is the ability to browse through the profiles of the players, and sorely so.
Great graphical presentation of matches.
The navigation needs work.