Review by Scotsman

"The perfect game...ruined by one major flaw."

The Championship Manager series are the best-known football manager game series of all time. From the Commodore Amiga to the PC, Oliver Collyer's game has never failed to impress.

Every time a Championship Manager game is brought out, the “wish lists” for the next version soon follow. Championship Manger 2 97/98 version was the best football manager game ever. Could they better this?

In a word, yes.

Championship Manager 3 is the most in-depth football manager game there is. I'd even go out on a limb and say it's the most in-depth game ever. Over 25,000 players and staff members in the game; choice of leagues including Scotland, England, France, Brazil and Italy; Reserve teams; International management; this game has it all.

If you've never played a football manager game, I recommend playing anything BUT Championship Manager 3, to get you started. If you've never even had an interest in football(or as you'll probably call it...soccer), then I recommend NEVER touching Championship Manager 3.

However the game isn't out to encourage people to get into football. The game is out to attract the billion or so people that are already football enthusiasts, like myself.

If you've ever wanted to be a real manager, now you can. It feels like it. You'll go through the frustrations. From managing AC Milan and winning the European Champions League, to getting beaten by Hereford on a cold wintry day, which saw 4 of your players sent off.

Unlike previous Championship Manager games, there is no “great tactic”. In this, you have to change your tactics to adapt to the team you are playing; the current weather; or who that ‘bastard in the black'(referee) is!

It can take time. And it feels like a real manager game. Every match, you'll go through the emotions a real manager would. If you're superstitous(like myself), you'll think there's secret ways to win. If you win a match while you're out of the room, then you'll stay out of the room for every game. If you win a match while the mouse icon is over the “pause game” button, then you'll be leaving it in that EXACT position. If your team is 1-0 up, with 5 minutes left....time will go so slow you'll wonder if the game has frozen! I won't even attempt to describe THAT game where you MUST win to save yourself from relegation.

Each season will take about 10 hours of playing, if you're doing just one league. If you have 15 leagues going at the same time, you might as well set yourself a few days for each season. Lastability isn't a problem here. With so many leagues to play, you'll want to quit your job just so you can play CM3 twenty four hours a day.

There aren't any “cheats” so you can win either. Many games(eg: Ultimate Soccer Manager) had a cheat where if you typed a certain key, you'd score a goal. While that seems like fun, it isn't. It can ruin the game. If you're 2-1 down with 2 minutes left in that all important cup final, the temptation is too much....ruining the games actual aim.

CM3's only “cheat” is saving the game before a match, then reloading that game if you lose the match. However it's a time-consuming cheat(about 5 minutes), and it's something serious gameplayers won't do.

The tactics as mentioned before, differ so often. You won't find a tactic that will work with every team. If you're a team like Manchester United, you can probably use the majority of tactics, and get a win. However when you're a lower-league team(which is where the fun comes in), you'll be adapting your tactics often. When playing a “major” team, long ball and ultra-defense is the way to go. However playing a lower-league team, all-out attack may seem like the best way....but again it depends. You can't just categorize teams into one big lump.

The realism is here. You can assign scouts to different countries, hire assistant managers; coaches...anyone you please. You can even manage your reserve team, which I found to be the highlight. These are games where the result doesn't really matter....and they can be quite heart-warming after a 120 minute cup semi-final match, where the heart beats every step of the way.

Add to this, multiple updates from the internet where you can keep up-to-date with the latest football transfers, and an in-game editor if you wish to update the game yourself, and you've got a game that you'll never stop playing.

Overall, it is the best football manager game you'll ever play. It has everything. All the competitions....it's hard to think of a game better than this.

Of course, every game has it's flaw. Sadly for Championship Manager 3, it has a HUGE flaw. Speed. You'll need a super-computer to get the most enjoyment out of this game.

With a Pentium 200, 32 mb, even a one-league minimum database game is slow. The reason Championship Manager 3 could be so good is because of the multi-leagues. However only a select minority would be able to play all 15 leagues. This is a major problem with the game, and really makes you regret purchasing it. Spending $80 on this, then finding out you can only have the one league and not be able to manage any national teams apart from your home country is disappointing.

It has sounds, backgrounds and much more. However if you want speed(and believe me with Championship Manager 3 you will) you have to turn these off. The game designers knew what the fans wanted, and they delivered, so I guess it isn't their problem. However the game is piled with needless stats(jumping AND heading???), that could have been taken out to make the game a little faster.

The game also isn't available in the USA or Canada, meaning you will either have to order it online(which can cost quite a bit), or have a friend in the UK or Europe send it over to you.

Overall, this COULD have been the perfect game. It is the ultimate managerial experience, and on the gameplay front, it is unmatched. Although a sequel to this is planned, it will be hard to beat this. The game itself will make you consider buying a super-fast computer just so you can see all the features. It is that good.

It's a 6 out of 10. Gameplay isn't everything, otherwise it would be a 10.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 02/22/01


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