championship-manager-2010-coverThe Championship Manager 2010 demo was the first sign that finally, after years of Football Manager dominating the genre, things are changing and gamers now have more options (because, let’s face it – FM was kind of the only player on the field until now). Fortunately, with the release of the full game, Beautiful Game Studios proved that even between the demo and the full release of Championship Manager 2010, there was some time to add some extra goodies and further improve the game and we can only be happy to hear that. Read on to see just how much has CM2010 improved.

For a game whose price was just as high as fans wanted to pay, Championship Manager is a heck of a simulation! The database gets a September update (which is a highly recommend update since it also fixes some in-game bugs) that adds the summer transfers into play, so you start the 2009/2010 season just like the real teams.

The player data, from what I managed to see by myself, is quite good and not only the top players are well researched, but the lower profile ones as well. For example, since I believe that a good football management game is one that manages to be amazing even in the lower leagues, I have started my first game in Belgium with Charleroi – a team and a championship I know very little about, and that was the entire point. The result after one season? Better than anticipated, I managed to get a good run, sign some important players and establish myself in Belgium, ready for a bigger challenge. So CM2010 succeeded!

cm2010-drill-trainingTogether with the accurate database, the match engine is what turns a management game into a success or a failure and fortunately Championship Manager 2010 has a great match engine – one that I consider better than that of Football Manager 2009 (in FM2009 I couldn’t stand the 3D match engine and kept playing in classic 2D). The animations are smooth and the players tend to act naturally, while giving you the impression that indeed your tactical instructions are being followed and you’re not just a simple spectator of a game that plays itself, alone.

Unfortunately, the match engine is still not perfect: fullbacks have a tendency to blast the ball out of bounds even when they are alone with the ball, goalkeepers tend to be supermen when it comes to penalties and some other decisions made by the players are at least strange, but it’s something you can get used with.

cm2010-scouting-networkAnother really great feature of Championship Manager 2010 is the addition of the scouting networks. Instead of sending scouts in different areas, as in FM, you now invest specific amounts of money in different areas of the world (ranging from continents to specific countries) and you get regular reports with the findings. It’s a nice thing that makes the game a bit more realistic (including the attribute masking thing), even though you don’t really have complete control of the players your scouting network is searching for.

The set piece creator is another hit in CM2010 because it really allows you to create your own set pieces – as simple or complicated as you wish them to be. It’s a real joy to win a tough game after a corner you spent half an hour tweaking, so I guess that can be called “job well done”. You can also practice these set pieces, as well as other elements (like penalty taking, shooting and even full games), but I am at the moment unsure how much do these practice sessions matter in the real game. It would be great if the quality of a set piece could be decided by the amount of practice it received, but I really doubt that’s the case in Football Manager 2010. But at least it’s a good start!

cm2010-setpieceOne other thing I really enjoyed in Beautiful Game Studios’ title was the fact that transfers are no longer a sure thing, based only on the difference of reputation between clubs and a big offer. No, some players will simply refuse to come play for your club, while others will play hard to get. Add to that all sorts of other goodies (including personal messages on your birthdays, for example), tons of training options and tactical instructions to give to your players (here Football Manager has some things to learn!) and you’ll get a really high quality game.

The visuals of the game are pretty standard. The 3D match engine, as I said before, delivers some pretty cool players – at least some better looking ones compared to FM2009, but the background image is a bit too shiny and tiring, but fortunately you can at least block the animations. Navigation through the menus is easily done, even though I find it hard to get used with the fact that pressing Backspace on your keyboard won’t work in the game to take you back.

cm2010-matchengineConclusion

After years of struggling from the Championship Manager series and Football Manager dominance, Championship Manager 2010 comes to change the game a little bit and it is a viable alternative to FM. I am sure that most of the football management genre fans will enjoy playing Beautiful Game Studios’ title which is a big leap forward compared to 2008 and a high quality product for 2009. Sports Interactive should be worried!

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