Review by ElFreakoKid

"Give us a break, where's CM4?"

It's that time of the year ladies and gents; it's a Championship Manager update. This is the tenth anniversary (yes 10th!) of the Championship Manager games and this version in particular is the 2001/2002 update of the football (soccer to our American readers) management sim. If you're a CM veteran then you might want to skip the new few paragraphs, if you're a CM newbie then read on.

To put it basically you are an up-and-coming football manager and you have the opportunity to manage any team you want. When you have made your choice you have a choice of options as to what you want to do next. You can but or sell players. Make a training regime for them to mould them into the football playing machines that you want. You can send your scouts around the world to find the next big name in football.

When it comes to actual matches you have a choice of what players you want in your team and in what positions. You can choose who will be the captain and what formation they will play. You can even tell them how to play by telling them to take long shots or to go on long runs. When it comes to the big day there isn't much you can do apart from let them at it. There is a rating system which marks your players out of ten as you go on (10 being man of the match quality and 1 being absolutely crap) and you can choose to substitute them if you fell they're not playing to their potential of if they're injured. You can't actually see the players playing. Instead you get a text commentary explaining what is going down in the match. You can also have sound effects and crowd chants but if you have a low spec PC then this isn't recommended. So that's basically it.

Like all the versions since CM3, CM01/02 features a few small but significant changes (is that an oxymoron?). The biggest apart from the usual teams and players updates is a new transfer and contract system. Player's contracts can now be protected depending on their age and when they were signed. Also if a young player from a lower division is sold and then sold on again for a huge sum the lower division team gets a slice of the profits (hopefully that made sense). The maximum length of a contract for any player in CM01/02 is now five years. If a player's contract is protected then they can't move on their free will and it will be up to the club (unless you have a particularly poor financial record).

Another cool new feature is the opportunity to give ultimatums to the board. If you request extra funds for example and they refuse you can reply by giving them an ultimatum and threatening to leave the club if they don't comply. This should only be used if you have a high manager rating or a good reputation otherwise the board will probably call your bluff and tell you to get packing.

Got an injured player? Sick of having physiotherapists that don't seem to do their bloody job? Well in the 01/02 version the physiotherapists serve a function. If you¡¦ve got a player with a serious injury then you can send them for rehabilitation. This can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes players are out for longer times if you'd just left them to heal naturally and that can be quite annoying. On the other hand if they have had a recurring injury then you won¡¦t mind waiting a few months so they are cured permanently. Hmm...seems like I was wrong when I said there were only a few changes. Here are some more changes and additions.

Player comparison is a new feature which (surprise, surprise) lets you compare two players of your choice. This is particularly helpful when you want to compare two potential signings of the same position. Using the player comparison you can choose which one would be better suited for your team. Foreign players have had a make over of sorts as well. In early versions of CM, foreign players would sometimes find it hard to settle in to the style of play or would get homesick. In CM01/02 you can give them a few weeks off to try and get their things together. When they come back they should be right as rain (and if they're not you can give them the boot).

Taking a page from RTS games, SI games have included a fog of war type mode where you can only see attributes that a manager would realistically know. This is great for people who find the CM games don't give them a big enough challenge but it's not recommended for first time players of CM.

The last addition that I could find was the ban appeal mode. When a player is banned for a sending off or multiple yellow cards you can appeal to the F.A. (Football Association for non footy pundits) and they'll get back to you and judge whether they were too harsh in the original decision. If you're an inexperienced manager or if you always whine about players getting sent off then you could feel the wrath of the F.A. and get a spanking...wait I mean a fine.

So I guess I should tell you whether or not you should prise open your wallet and spend your money. Well I¡¦ll give it to you in two parts. If you're a first timer in the world of football management and you fancy a bash at it then this game is perfect for you. It doesn't take long to learn how to play (although mastering it is another matter). Die hard fans will love it also because it's a CM update and they just have to get the latest updates. Unfortunately if you're like me (a casual CM fan) then you might be getting a little sick of the CM games. If you are like me then you might wanna wait for Championship Manager 4 (the PROPER sequel) which supposedly has a new game engine with actual real time match graphics which is something the CM games have sorely lacked in the last 10 years.

WARNING: Please make sure you have at least 175 MB of space while playing CM01/02 and don't bother playing it on a PC with a low MHZ spec because it'll just be too slow.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/17/02, Updated 03/17/02


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