Review by RhinoRichards

Reviewed: 05/07/03 | Updated: 05/07/03

An unexpected huge dissapointment

Since CM Italia back in the early 1990's I have been a huge Championship Manager fan. And by huge, I mean huge. Each year the new CM game cost me good exam results and part of my social life. Every year the game progressed and progressed and you always had faith in Sports Interactive to bring out another fantastic game. Which they did, until the dreaded CM4 arrived.

You were expecting a 'but' in all that weren't you? Well that's what you got! To me, Championship Manager 4 looks totally rushed. For a game that had it's release date pushed back and further back for months you would expect a superb management experience (like the previous CM games) from developers like Sports Interactive. It's not as if they even had to totally re-design the interface, because doing this has removed some of the best parts of Championship Manager. For example, you no longer have a manager reputation table for your country and 'All Nations'. This was a great feature as you could see how you were doing in the management world compared to other coaches in the world. This was a feature that CM 01/02 had, but CM4 does not.

Championship Manager 4 to me is unplayable. The reason for this is the whole randomness feel of the matches. It seems that no matter what you do on your tactics screen and whatever players you put out, the match is generated in a random fashion. What makes this even worse is the fact that your score can change with the drop of a hat. Picture this: you're winning 1-0 away in the Champions League semi-final and you're really pleased to have scored an away goal taking them back to your place. Then suddenly, the score changes like magic and you are now losing 2-0. You think, 'oh, my goal MUST have been disallowed, surely!' but no, the whole of the match report has been changed and what is said in the report never actually happened in the game you watched. This just about sums up CM4. Yet another reason to stick with CM 01/02. In all my time playing a CM game I have never experienced score changing bugs like that, so why start with this so called next generation management game? It really is a joke.

To add to the whole random feel of playing matches, there are also many other problems with this game. Strikers score WAY too many goals, no matter who you manage. Midfielders score 3 goals a season if they are lucky, while your two strikers are always likely to have bagged 50 goals a season each if you play half decent tactics. That is just plain unrealistic. Every goal you score will be a through ball to your striker who will pound it past the goalkeeper. Every goal that goes in you should be celebrating (like we all did with 01/02) but instead of celebrating it is totally meaningless because you feel like the game is unrealistic. The matches mean nothing to me on CM4. If you don't play 'Gung ho' mentality then you have no chance and if you try to play more than 3 defenders you have a death wish because you won't win. Why did they remove with ball/without ball feature and replace it with some little player instructions? No matter what they say, it was rushed.

One laughable 'feature' added to CM4 was the option to view the final scores of other matches 'happening at the same time' on the latest scores screen. You might laugh at this, but it is true. All you need to do is click on a player who has been injured during a match on the latest scores screen. Then look at his injury status. It will say 'Injured with a broken leg during Man Utd's 3-0 win over Everton' or something similar. Wow! This game even offers psychic powers! If ever Fergie needs to know the final score of an Arsenal game in real life he can pick up the phone and call Wenger when he sees that Henry has been injured and find out Arsenal's final score! This sort of thing has killed the CM series.

A huge problem with this game is selling players. It is nigh on impossible to sell anyone! I played a game for 2 whole seasons and a half and sold a grand total of...wait for it...0 players! Even though I'd transfer listed some pretty decent players who couldn't get a game, no-one came in for any of them not even once. I even tried offering players to clubs (new CM4 feature) for free and they were turning me down. If you are going to add a new feature you would at least make it work would you not?

Where has the 'Next opposition' screen gone? That's right, another thing that was removed for some reason. No longer can you check how you've done in past meetings against teams you play.

As for playing CM4 straight out of the box, forget it!! On the actual release date of the game they released a patch, sorry 'Enhancement pack', for CM4 which they claimed solved a lot of bug problems. I could write a 40,000 word essay on the problems with the 'out of the box' version before patching it. What happens to those without the internet? They are screwed, oh unless they want to pay more of their hard earned cash for an awful magazine which will feature the 'Enhancement pack' on a cover disc. What an absolute disgrace. Both the developers and the fans know that CM4 is unplayable and even after the first patch and then a second patch released later on in April the game is full of bugs, crashes and all sorts. Couple this with the fact that key features from CM 01/02 were removed and the match screen was killed. You get a poor game, and it pains me to say it!

It seems to me that even after Enhancement Pack 15 this game will be nowhere near CM 01/02 standard. That is why I suggest you do not buy this game if you are a hardcore CM fan because you will be so dissapointed it's untrue. I hate to say it lads but this is the first time I've been remotely unhappy with a CM game. So after reading all of the above and my opinion, trust my judgement because £15 for this game would be a rip-off, never mind £30.00.

Aside from all of the bad points in the game, there have obviously been some enhancements (emphasise the word some) over CM 01/02. The 2d match engine for example. This would be an amazing feature in the CM 01/02 match engine but sadly it only holds memories of (previously mentioned) famous 'score changes' on CM4. 'Players' react about as quickly as camels and kick the ball out of play half the time when under no pressure at all. This is not a big grumble though because it does add some excitement to CM4 players experience when watching games but as mentioned before you never expect anyone other than your mediocre strikers to hit the back of the net.

Before I pulled this game out of my drive never to be played again I may have noticed that players now have a few more stats on their profiles, but to be honest with you I couldn't care less because you can win against anyone with any players in reality.

Another problem is when you finish a season and say you come 5th in Division 1 in England, you'd expect to be praised for getting into the play-offs. But no, the board praise you for winning the First Division title! Eh?!

I'm going to stop criticising the game here because I think I've described just how poor this game is with only 20% of it's faults so far. It really is a painfully bad game and ultimately it has killed off the CM series. If you ever have the unfortunate 'pleasure' of sticking this game into your computer you will look to the sky and remember that at least you have CM 01/02 and remember that one day the CM series was amazing. If you buy and play CM4 you are in for both a shock and dissapointment.

CM 01/02 for life.

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

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