Review by Scotsman

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

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

Every time a Championship Manager game is brought out, the “wish lists” forthe next version soon follow. Championship Manger 2 97/98 version was thebest 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. Over25,000 players and staff members in the game; choice of leagues includingScotland, England, France, Brazil and Italy; Reserve teams; Internationalmanagement; this game has it all.

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

However the game isn't out to encourage people to get into football. The gameis out to attract the billion or so people that are already footballenthusiasts, 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 theEuropean 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”. Inthis, 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'llgo through the emotions a real manager would. If you're superstitous(likemyself), you'll think there's secret ways to win. If you win a match whileyou're out of the room, then you'll stay out of the room for every game. Ifyou win a match while the mouse icon is over the “pause game” button, thenyou'll be leaving it in that EXACT position. If your team is 1-0 up, with 5minutes left....time will go so slow you'll wonder if the game has frozen! Iwon't even attempt to describe THAT game where you MUST win to save yourselffrom relegation.

Each season will take about 10 hours of playing, if you're doing just oneleague. If you have 15 leagues going at the same time, you might as well setyourself a few days for each season. Lastability isn't a problem here. Withso many leagues to play, you'll want to quit your job just so you can play CM3twenty four hours a day.

There aren't any “cheats” so you can win either. Many games(eg: UltimateSoccer Manager) had a cheat where if you typed a certain key, you'd score agoal. While that seems like fun, it isn't. It can ruin the game. If you're2-1 down with 2 minutes left in that all important cup final, the temptationis too much....ruining the games actual aim.

CM3's only “cheat” is saving the game before a match, then reloading that gameif 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 tacticthat will work with every team. If you're a team like Manchester United, youcan probably use the majority of tactics, and get a win. However when you'rea lower-league team(which is where the fun comes in), you'll be adapting yourtactics often. When playing a “major” team, long ball and ultra-defense isthe way to go. However playing a lower-league team, all-out attack may seemlike the best way....but again it depends. You can't just categorize teamsinto one big lump.

The realism is here. You can assign scouts to different countries, hireassistant managers; coaches...anyone you please. You can even manage yourreserve team, which I found to be the highlight. These are games where theresult doesn't really matter....and they can be quite heart-warming after a120 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-datewith the latest football transfers, and an in-game editor if you wish toupdate the game yourself, and you've got a game that you'll never stopplaying.

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

Of course, every game has it's flaw. Sadly for Championship Manager 3, it hasa HUGE flaw. Speed. You'll need a super-computer to get the most enjoymentout 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 themulti-leagues. However only a select minority would be able to play all 15leagues. This is a major problem with the game, and really makes you regretpurchasing it. Spending $80 on this, then finding out you can only have theone league and not be able to manage any national teams apart from your homecountry is disappointing.

It has sounds, backgrounds and much more. However if you want speed(andbelieve 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 guessit isn't their problem. However the game is piled with needless stats(jumpingAND heading???), that could have been taken out to make the game a littlefaster.

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

Overall, this COULD have been the perfect game. It is the ultimate managerialexperience, and on the gameplay front, it is unmatched. Although a sequel tothis is planned, it will be hard to beat this. The game itself will make youconsider 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 Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 02/22/01

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