January 24, 2005

Football Manager 2005 – Review

Every year at around this time I ask myself a question. How can a glorified spreadsheet be one of the most popular games of the year? The answer is as simple as the concept behind the game: football supporters all think they can manage their club better than anyone else. So Championship Manager was born, and soon became one of the most widely played games of all time. What started out as a crude DOS-based UK-only game became a global phenomenon with almost 100 leagues from over 40 countries. With scouts around the world providing stats on thousands of players, it has often been suggested that real football managers might benefit from CMs database.

Sadly, all good stories have to end. Championship Manager is no longer the game we knew, loved, and sacrificed copious amounts of free time for. Publishers Eidos and developers Sports Interactive have split, with Eidos keeping the rights to the Championship Manager name. The next CM game you will see will have nothing to do with the previous 12 editions.

But no developers worth their keyboard are going to throw away that kind of history, so the boys at SI joined forces with Sega. Thus Football Manager 2005 came into being. Granted, its not such a familiar name, and FM is harder to say than CM, but we loyalists can live with that.

Football Manager contains everything you would have expected from the next CM title. Transfers have been implemented, media interaction improved, stats reassessed and the 2D match engine enhanced. As well as this there is the continuing expansion of the game to include more leagues from across the world. The interface has also been changed. Getting used to it is slightly confusing at first, but so was the switch from CM2 to CM3, and again to CM4, and after an adjustment period no one ever wanted to go back. The same is the case here, with information more easily accessible than ever before. Matches deserve a particular mention – there is now a split screen view, allowing you to watch the 2D pitch and player or match stats at the same time.

Of course, if you have played the CM games, you know exactly what FM is about. If not, it is the best, most well researched football managing game you will find. Until next year. It just doesnt break any particularly new ground. There is not much more to say. Yes, it is a spreadsheet, but comparing it to Excel is like comparing the crayon scribblings of a 3-year-old to Van Gogh.

In the epic words of Brian Clough, I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business, but I was in the top one. Go forth and live the dream – its going to be a great season.


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