Review by Gary2
"A worthy addition to the Championship Manager series."
Let me start this review by first explaining the name change (for those of you not in the know). Previously the Championship Manager series was a joint production of game developers Eidos and Sports Interactive. For some reason these publishers split up and created two new brands of the Championship Manager series. The first is Eidos' attempt. I call it an attempt because it is basically a completely new game with the same name, called Championship Manager 5. This game isn't out yet and doesn't feature the usual CM (I will refer to Championship Manager as CM throughout the review) engine. The second game is Sports Interactive's, called Football Manger 2005 (or Worldwide Soccer Manager 2005 in the USA). This has the usual CM engine but a different name (this is the one I'm reviewing).
Graphics: The CM series has never been known for it's fancy graphics. You'll find no 3D models or textures here. The main game is made up of a simple layout that does the job it needs to do very well. There are skins/player face packs that you can download off the internet, with a variety of different themes and colours, if you want. The main match engine is in 2D, but looks very polished and fresh. Each player is represented as a little small circle of that team's colour.
Sound: Like graphics, the CM series isn't popular for it's sound. The sound engine is basically like previous instalments.
Gameplay: Now this is were the game really comes into it's own. The CM series has always had fantastic gameplay and Football Manager 2005 is no different. Fans of the series will feel right at home with the controls and layout. New features of FM include a very interactive media feature. This is where you play mind games with other managers to see who can get the mental advantage before the big games Ferguson/Wenger style. Of course, there are pro and cons to this. For example, if you choose the wrong option your players may seem dejected (this is shown with a little symbol beside the player's name) and you could get hammered against a rival team. On the other side of the coin, your players could gain great morale and confidence from your pre-match comments and hammer a team in style. Its all about the timing of using this feature, but you could go all through the game without touching it at all.
Other features include yet more teams and leagues. There are also licensed teams from a lot of countries (strangely the English Premiership isn't licensed). As usual there is a whole database packed with players of every nationality and club. Transfers have also been updated fully which is always good for a footie game (meaning Wayne Rooney is at Man United and Chelsea's seemingly endless squad are all there).
The loading times of the game have also been worked on. They have been cut down on yet again from CM03/04. Of course with older computers, with limited RAM and processors, the game may take a long while to load.
The computer AI is, for the most part, better than previous instalments and improving with every game. There are still some dodgy transfer dealings and strange score lines, but these are often rare.
Value: FM has incredible replay value. It will take you a long time to build a capable squad to win major honours and after you do (if you make it at all) you'll still feel compelled to defend your trophies. FM also keeps CM's addictive one-more-game style attitude. So you won't be getting bored of this one in a hurry.
Overall Football Manager 2005 is a great addition to the series and builds upon it. Championship Manager and football fans alike will love it. I recommend buying this game when you have the chance.
Final rating: 9/10
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/13/04
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