Championship manager
Championship Manager 4 reviewed on PC @ www.contactmusic.com
Championship manager Reviewed

My family haven't seen a great deal of me in the last fortnight, come to think of it, I've not been terribly productive at work for the last couple of weeks, the reason? A little game called Championship Manager 4.

It's actually a bit more than a game, for me and thousands of other equally sad individuals, the 28th of March was more of an equinox, a day of reckoning if you will, It was the day that the latest installation of the game that rules our lives was released.

For the uninitiated, (where have you been the last 13 years?!?) this is the football management game that all the others wish they were. In fact it's the one that ALL games wish they were. Addictive? The hardest thing I've ever done was giving up smoking two years ago. That however, was a doddle in comparison to dragging myself away for 2 hours to write this review.

 
Championship Manager 4 reviewed on PC @ www.contactmusic.com

I know I have to continue, but really you know all you need to know; BUY THIS GAME NOW!!! You won't regret it! If you like football, or even if are aware that a sport called football exists, this is THE game to have. I'm not in a minority here, this is the fastest selling game ever. That's right, ever. Not this year, not in it's genre, but the fastest selling computer game ever to be released.

The thing that makes this game so good (did I mention I quite like it?) is the simplicity of gameplay. You control everything that a real football manager would, nothing more, nothing less. Not enough? OK, you can further refine your level of involvement by delegating tasks to your support staff. Everything is controlled by a simple yet efficient drag-and-drop and pull down box method which makes things smooth and uncomplicated, team selection, contracts, player purchase are all dealt with with the same unflappable ease.

CM4 is so very realistic, (I mean really, truly, realistic!) you couldn't get to closer to the real thing if you donned a sheepskin and developed drinking problem. All, and I do mean all, the players from every league in the world are included, just take a moment to comprehend what that's like. To give an example, I had a mate at school, who played some reserve football for a couple of lower league sides, not brilliant, but not bad. He's in CM4!!! Apparently now playing for some conference side. Get the picture? the game is huge! The only limits to the game is how long you can go without leaving your seat.

Eidos have really pulled out a show stopper with the true to life feel of CM4, down to the very last detail. The examples are too numerous to mention but they have the wonderful quality of really aiding the game for the addict without overcomplicating it for the casual gamer. So much more than ever before, every subtle nuance has been tweaked and tuned to the finest degree. The result? The most complete game that you could ever hope to play.

New additions to the latest game include the new transfer system and a new 2D match view, where you can see the action unfold. I have to take a moment to congratulate Eidos on this, the problem with so many footy management games is how they deal (or in many cases don't deal) with the in-match sequence. I always thought that CM had it sussed with its commentary "bar", the speed of which could be adjusted to suit your taste. But now it's even better. You still have the commentary bar, but now key, extended or full match highlights can be viewed with this "blimp" view of the action. This really adds to the flavour and you can see who is playing well and who isn't rather than just relying on the computer ratings.

No other game has quite the depth and longevity of CM4, I've had games that have lasted over 20 seasons in the past, I'm sure there are others who have had careers much longer than that. Such is the passion and commitment of fans of the CM series, and it's not something I've experienced with any other game. It doesn't matter if you have never played the game before, or are a CM freak, you can get straight into it with a very easy learning curve.

You can't say much about the graphics and sound, that's not what the game's about, but what there is is adequate, the presentation is slick and clear, with every button and menu where you'd expect it to be. You have a choice of "skins" for your viewer, but again, if that sort of thing turns you on, you've probably come to the wrong place.

Similarly with the sound, there are some nice crowd samples that "ooh", "ahh" and cheer in all the right places, but you can enjoy the game just as much with the sound off.

This has to be the final word in PC gaming. If I had to choose five games for my "Desert Island Games" list I'd take 5 copies of CM4, just incase the other 4 got burned out. And I really mean that.

In short, to misquote Public Enemy; "Do believe the hype!" This game is as good as everyone says. So do yourself a favour, buy a copy, put aside six months of you life and enjoy.

Rating: (do you really have to ask?) I'd give it more if I were allowed, 10/10.