"If you thought CM3 was good..."

then you probably played it quite a lot. Anyway, the latest installment in the Championsip Manager series has finally arrived. After a long wait, numerous delays, and a lot of sleep, the God of football-management games is here. Before you start the game there are a few things you'll need to do; set aside a few weeks of your life, make sure you've got plenty of food and drink supplies - you don't want to go hungry, and have some large empty bottles next to your computer desk - we all need the toilet sooner or later. The game's RRP is £35, but shop around on the high street and online and you should be able to find it for a more desirable sum in the region of £25, of which every penny is worth it. Please note, that this is a review of the game on the PC, and not the Mac. Now...

Graphics

Obviously, this game's graphics are the main reason for buying it.</sarcasm></stupid fake html tags> No really, it's not exactly Unreal 2 or Doom 3 on the graphics front, but you don't expect it to be either. You get the basic screens of previous CM games, but with some minor changes, leaving the interface as user-friendly as ever, and now you can customise your game with skins, as well as adding in club's badges to your screen. As well as all of that, there's the addition of a 2d pitch where you can watch your entire match being played from a birds-eye view, or if you prefer to, just watch the key moments of the match, and it also looks much nicer than had been expected, and is definitely a step in the right direction. It doesn't do 20million pixels/second, but what it does do, it does very well. 7/10

Sound

Sound? The only sounds are the crowd chanting and the whistle being blown during the simulation of your club's game. Boring? No. This game isn't a BeMaNi game; it's a management game. If you really want something to listen to, listen to some CDs or MP3s on Winamp if the game isn't eating away at your system resources while you play. If an in-game soundtrack is something that really worries you, then get too close to this game, it might just bite you. 0/10

Storyline

You basically have to build up a team of football-playing cyborgs, capable of destroying the evil Lord Narkov's team, saving planet Earth being a mere bonus. Okay, i'm taking the piss. Let's move on to Gameplay

Gameplay

If you're expecting the gameplay of this game to be on par with previous installations in the series then too bad. Don't worry though, it's not dip-into-depression time just yet. The gameplay of this title completely crushes all before it, including softcore offerings like LMA Manager and Premier Manager, leaving the competition flat on their back. Championship manager 4 is the only football-management game worth playing. The training section has been totally revamped and is open to even more customisation, allowing you to train your team any way you like. The tactics editor has also been given a nice polish. You can now offer more team instructions including the totally-excellent Ultra Defensive and Gung-Ho mentalities, and you can give your individuals more commands, letting your team work as one and not just as a group of eleven footballers. On the transfer front, there are some new functions, one of which lets you offer players to clubs, meaning you no longer need to wait for an interested club to bid for a player, because you can take the bidding to them. Sadly though, the clubs the player is offered to rarely put in a bid. There are many more excellent features, but too many to name. The only thing that lets this masterpiece down is the number of bugs. You may notice constant crashes, annoying error messages, saved games becoming corrupt as well as many gameplay flaws like match schedules coinciding with international fixtures and much more. Thankfully, SiGames have been working on patches - Enhancement Packs - to help fix these errors, although it will take a lot of patches to completely rid the game of bugs. 9/10

Longevity

If there's one thing this game has, it's longevity. You can play this game for the rest of your life and, if you're really into it, never get bored. Ever. The game is full of new things, and as the years progress you win more championships, take on more challenges, and raise more youth players into becoming the next World Cup winners. Sadly, if you're not looking for a long term fix, then this game might not be for you. 10/10

Specs

Spectacles might be required for those who need reading-glasses because the game is quite text heavy.

Real Specs

Ahhh. Ok. So you don't want to know about glasses? You want to know what you will need to run this baby? Ok.
The minimum requirements are a Pentium3 600MHz, Win9x/WinXP with 64MB of RAM, a Graphics card capable of displaying 1024*768 and 32-bit colours. This should allow you to run the bare minimum, although some people have been playing it with less-powerful systems but it doesn't quite run at the speed of light, which is approximately 300,000,000 metres/second in air. Most computers built in the last 2 years should be capable of running it. 8/10

Pros
-Larger Player Database
-More In-Depth Tactics And Training Editor
-Brand New Leagues
-Easy To Learn, Impossible To Master

Cons
-Normally Runs Quite Slowly
-More Bugs Than My Chemistry Teacher's Hair
-Frustrating When You Just Can't Win
-Guaranteed To Repel Your Job, Friends And Any Other Life For The First Few Months

Buy?

If you don't, i'll send Franky and the boys round to give you a good seeing to. If you're only going to buy one game this year, then buy this. You might still have some change left over for a cheap budget-title.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/15/03, Updated 04/15/03


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