Seeing your unholy free kick creation spring to life in a crucial moment
Our previous look at Championship Manager 2010 promised a fresh start for the experienced series, complete with swish new visual style and overhauled tactical command. As prescient as it may have been, that preview material has largely translated to the final version presented to us today, and we can confidently confirm that Champ Man 2010 serves as a suitable alternative for those of you waning on the Sports Interactive behemoth. At long last, competition is back on the cards, and that’s never a bad thing.
To begin an overhaul of this magnitude, the most crucial elements of any football management simulation—the player database and match engine—have been stripped to basics and put back together with a view to competing with the best, and the effort shows. Not only does CM2010 contain enough statistical depth to match Football Manager, it connects to the player through a superbly entertaining engine that genuinely feels alive with tactical possibilities.
The strategic engine is refined over previous versions.
Scouting is crucial at all levels.
To begin with then, following a small download after installation, everything is accurate up to the latest transfer window. That means the likes of a stamp-happy Adebayor at Man City, Alonso at Real Madrid, and the highly overpriced and under-talented Glen Johnson heading to Liverpool. Through a series of monthly updates, CM2010’s live season mode promises to keep everything current, and whilst there are a few questionable player ratings, the database is well-grounded and realistic.
Continuing the progression, the new scouting system plays directly into this up-to-date information. A simple world map offers your club the ability to pump resources into different regions, and over time the player database for that area will become more accurate and reliable. You can still focus on individual players when necessary, but providing the opportunity for the likes of Cardiff City to become an authority on Welsh talent—for example—feels like a natural extension of team management and it’s a feature that quickly endears itself in practice.
Of course that depth of information would be useless without a match engine that sustains the same level of immersion, and barring a few oddities that will no doubt be patched out in future releases, Big Game Studios have delivered a simulation that meets the Sports Interactive quality bar in every manner - and even bests them in certain respects.
Player movement and animation is well represented by capable 3D models, and the game seems alive with tangible tactical alterations that play out with realism. The set piece editor is perhaps the most interesting manner of branding a personal style onto your team, and creating a ludicrously complicated free kick - practicing it on the training ground - then seeing it reap dividends is one of those moments where CM2010 feels genuinely ground-breaking. Good stuff.
As a counterpart, the realistic graphical representation is backed by a simple formation overlay that belies some incredible depth. Runs can be specified, passing routes assigned and the usual raft of creativity roles assigned, but it’s the little details that prove most innovative. Specific players can be told to wind up members of the opposition, to look for overlap opportunities or to concentrate on beating specific people; and if you’re into that level of tinkering depth, the training menu allows for customised routines for every individual - even down to the ability to ‘mould’ them into having certain traits on the pitch.
The set piece designer is satisfying.
The match engine works well.
The final crucial aspect of the simulation - Press and player interaction – has been given similar treatment, with features like individually specific motivational talks available before, during and post-game. If you ever wanted to tear into Dimitar Berbatov in the hopes of getting some form of human response, this is the game for you. Whilst we’ve witnessed a few strange transfer requests, the results are largely believable.
CHAMPIONSHIP MANAGER 2010 VERDICT
For all that depth then, CM2010 is remarkably solid under the hood, and that’s what will really see it through in the long-run. As a much-needed reboot of the series, it’s a pleasure to discover a game that manages to match the very best that the competition can offer, and even find the time to throw a few curve balls in the process. As a cheap digital download it’s an absolute steal, and as a full-price retail game the value still far outweighs the price. Recommended.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Seeing your unholy free kick creation spring to life in a crucial moment.