Yesterday, after two years in development, Eidos and Beautiful Game Studios have released a demo for the upcoming Championship Manager 2010 and I was dying to try it, especially since I wanted some real competition for Football Manager who is the obvious choice in terms of football management simulations. So… did CM10 manage to rise above the crappy past versions and, even more, can this new release considered a threat for the upcoming Football Manager? Read out my demo impressions and you will find out!
First thing that managed to surprise me was the speed of the game: I installed it on a laptop computer that, according to the game, didn’t meet the minimal requirements (with a 1.8 processor as opposed to the required 2.0 one) so I was expecting a crappy performance from the game. However, Championship Manager 2010 did run very smoothly and not even once had I any performance problems. And this is always an important thing for such a game in which it sometimes takes ages to proceed. I also enjoyed the “time flowing” thing: you don’t have to actually wait and look at various information while time passes by, but you can do whatever things you wish to. It’s almost real time, to say so, and it’s quite a great implementation, something FM doesn’t achieve so well yet.
Another really impressive thing is the training area of the game, especially the set piece creator. However, even though you will have some great time creating zany or very tactically correct set pieces, players will have a tough time accomplishing what you’re asking for and I was enraged that about 60% of the short passes went through the receiving player, out of bounds. I know it wasn’t something the players had practiced, but it was just a simple pass, for God’s sake! But hopefully this little bug will be dealt with until the full CM10 is released and the set piece creator will really be great.
Really great in Championship Manager 2010 is also the scouting network: in order to enhance the realism, you won’t know all the stats about a player (the classic “attribute masking” which here can’t be turned off or on), instead you’ll see some estimations which will be closer to reality if the knowledge on that player increases. For that, you have the scouts. However, the scouts will not take care of scouting the world for new players, as in Football Manager, but the scouting network. In other words, you select which country you wish to scout, you set the amount of money you are willing to spend and based on that, you get (or don’t get) results. I was really pleased with how this thing works – however, I only scouted Europe, it would’ve been nice to see what results scouting Asia or Oceania would’ve brought.
The 3D match engine is also a joy to watch. Compared to Football Manger, the engine in Championship Manager 2010 is a few good classes above, with smooth motion captured animations and lots of detail. However, as it usually happens, the match engine is also the biggest failure in the game since there are lots of minor bugs (like players going through one another, balls going through them and so on) as well as major bugs (especially when it comes to scoring own goals). The bugs, in the long run, are not very often encountered and they’re not really deal breakers, but they are certainly something that has to be fixed or else the buyers might get disappointed.
On a brighter side, the players do seem to follow your instructions and you can really see that your tactical instructions have an impact on the game. Also, as opposed to Football Manager, in Championship Manager you have more “team talk” options to choose from, as well as your tone (calm, passionate, angry or eccentric) which adds some extra flavor to the overall experience. I don’t know how much of an impact this really has on the game, but it’s still a nice touch.
Another thing that got improved is the player base and knowledge: a really, really important factor in which FM is still the king, but starting this year Championship Manager is a lot closer. From the tens of players I have checked out from various divisions, both well known ones and lesser famous players, the data seemed accurate and I was really happy to see that. It is a really huge bonus!
Overall, Championship Manager 2010 is a solid football management game, a big improvement compared to the title released by Beautiful Game Studios two years ago and certainly an important rival of Football Manager. It does need some more polishing, especially in the 3D match area (and maybe a new, not so colorful theme) but overall it is a game I would recommend to every football management game fan. Especially now, since you can pre-order Championship Manager 2010 and pay for it as much (or as low) as you want to. I think it’s a great deal!