Championship Manager 2
If Thou One Of Those Lucky people who hath never played Championship Manager unto yet, get out now, while you still can. Grabbest thou some garlic (if thou hast no garlic to hand, then an onion, a leek or any other member of the allium family will do), place it on a strongly knotted cord about thy neck, run thee many miles from this place and hide thy boney-assed body somewhere dark and poorly-appointed, and don't come out until the rest of the world hath gone strangely quiet. For thine own sake and the sake of those around thee, flee! Flee, I say! Flee like the wind that doth whistle down the inside of a top professional sprint hurdler's shorts... For many are they who have fallen foul of their belief that they couldst handle the evil addiction that was Championship Manager 95. Yea, many are they, and broken of soul, and withered of mouse hand and baggy of eye. For Championship Manager 95 was verily addictive, unto like a very addictive thing - about four boxes of Cheesums and a kilo of crack, in fact. And if thou hast already fallen foul of the evil, feelest thou not that thou art safe, cocky one. For there art now a new... (Is there going to be much more of this? Ed.) Nearly finished. For there art now a new example of the lifesucking terror, and it goeth by the name Championship Manager 2 and it be'st even worse. There. (Thank you. You're only supposed to do that with adventure games, you know. Ed.)
Densely populated gaming area alert
Yes, Championship Manager 2 is with us, and it's been improved beyond the wildest imaginings of its most ardent (read: saddest, most friendless, most obsessive) fan. And when we talk about sad, obsessive, friendless fans, we know what we're talking about: there are certain frequenters of this office, who for the sake of their reputation will remain anonymous, who have played games up until the year 2025 in Championship Manager 95 (CM95). That's 30 years. (And they still haven't won the European Cup.) In their game, today's players' children have burst forth onto the scene, played out their triumphs, been arrested outside nightclubs for beating up hovertaxi drivers, and hung up their boots, for God's sake.
When we say "improved", we mean "improved". It's difficult to know where to start, but let's try bludgeoning you with heavy-duty facts. First, there's the sheer number of players you can search through to find that perfect addition to your squad. We're talking about every player in every major football team in Europe, and many of the top club sides from around the world (Velez Sarsfield, etc). Real players, with the correct names in real teams, each with ratings in 20 different categories.
If you know exactly who you want for your team (Marcel Desailly for Gillingham), you can just type in their name and the search facility will find them, wherever they've been transferred to since the game began. But if you only know the type of player you want, the parameters that you can enter to search for him with are more extensive than a bison's doink. There's a special little panel around here somewhere just to tell you all about it - the search parameters, not the doink. Treasure it, it took the poor designer ages.
What's always been so appealing about CM95 is the interface, and Championship Manager 2 (CM2) matches it: wherever you are in the game, however deeply you're down a pathway of screens, looking at God knows what obscure and sordid statistic, you can still do everything there to a player that you can do if you access their information through the team screen. But to put it more specifically - you might be having a bit of a nosy through the results of that week's games. You see a result in the international games that interests you and you want to look at the full match report. From there, you look at the individual player stats for the game. These tell you that one of the players has performed impressively, and naturally you want to know more. But you don't have to go all the way up through the menus to the main Results screen, then back down through the Player Search or Team screens - just click on his name and look at his details from where you are. And if you like the look of him, you can shortlist him there and then, or even put in a bid to buy him (as long as the transfer deadlines for his country haven't expired, of course). Eccelente, ambassadore. No other game does this for you; in fact, some business spreadsheets don't handle this amount of information so conveniently.
And what about the results and stats service? Every single match played in this game generates stats in this way. Every game played can show you the player's performance stats out of ten, any match incidents that occur (the goalscorers, and any players injured, booked or sent off). It shows you the basic match stats (shots on goal, shots on and off target, number of corners and freekicks for each side), plus the old familiar percentage ratings for defence, midOfield and attack as used in the first version of the game.
As if that wasn't enough, you can select either side that played and see their individual match stats. This is amazing the first time you see it: it shows passes attempted and completed, key passes completed, tackles attempted and won, key tackles won, headers challenged for and won, key headers won, shots taken, shots on goal, goals scored and an overall fitness rating (pant pant). For every game played. So if one of your players is called up for international duty and goes off to play for Bielorussia midweek, you can look it all up and see how he and his team played; and you can pick any player or team in the game and do the same thing, at any time. Anal retentive heaven.
Looking at your squad screen is easier, too. There's no more jumping backwards and forwards between different screens to see how players are compared in different areas any more - you can do it all on the same screen. You can view your squad according to playing position, or their physical condition or their level of morale. Or their average ratings, the number of goals they've scored, their assists (we've got Fantasy Football to thank for that), their Man of the Match awards, their disciplinary points, their estimated value, and even their weekly wage (if you want to make the lesser lights feel bad). Players' seasonal performance ratings are now recorded in three different ways: for domestic league games, for their country and also for European games. Number allocation is all click-and-draggable, too.
Formations, tactics, signings
Needless to say, the old formations and tactics have also been enhanced. You can stick a player anywhere you want to - basically, two support players, two sweepers and an anchor man are all yours for the asking. Again, it's all click and drag and, at last, you can cancel mistakes, and thankfully you're asked to confirm your changes before being plunged back into the fray with a goalkeeper at centre forward.
Transfers are more realistic; you can offer players in exchange, and when you approach a player, he now thinks about it for a couple of days and gets back to you. And if he agrees to join, you might also have to agree to a number of outrageous demands: win bonuses, goal bonuses, domestic and European trophy bonuses are all there to haggle over. Then there are the clauses: relegation release clauses, automatic wage increase clauses, and even, in some cases, free transfer on expire of contract clauses. Just keep a razor-edged letter-opener in your desk drawer.
But what about gameplay?
Physical enormity, graphical and... er, interfacial slickness and statistical hammer-blows wouldn't mean a thing, of course, if the game didn't play well. But it does. It's great. In its previous incarnation it was addictive and engrossing to the point of being genuinely, worryingly obsessive.
I'm talking about people staying in, hunched over their pc for whole weekends at a time with scarcely a break to finish a season; people going to bed and dreaming about their teams: people getting so involved that they talk about their computer teams at work, instead of real-life football. The difference between Championship Manager and every other football management game is that, while you're always aware that the others are games, this one actually becomes "real life".
So this version is better, not only because there's so much more information to browse through, but because there are so many more permutations to play your teams in, and so many, many more players to set your beady eyes on. But because it also plays better and more intelligently - and even more importantly, it's got (gasp) Clive Tyldesley. Clive provides commentary for the game, which runs at the same time as the factual information pops up on screen. It's great - it manages to be atmospheric, entertaining and even funny on occasion. It slows the game down a bit, but it's worth it to hear the commentary. For once, digitised commentary isn't an annoyance that you want to switch off. (Although you can, if you want to speed the game up, or you just prefer hard facts.)
And as if all that wasn't enough for you, to cap it all if you perform well enough as a manager, you'll be offered the plum job of coaching the national side as well, and have the chance to have your face stuck on top of a turnip. So what are you waiting for, dummy? Go out and buy it.
Other New Features
As well as all the improvements mentioned elsewhere, the new version includes all the teams in what's laughably known as the Scottish Football League - so Greenock Morton fans will finally stop moaning to us. The whole game now runs on a daily basis, which means that pre-season friendly games, essential for turning your mob of over-tanned, beer-soaked, bleach-haired slobs into a crack squad of pros, can now be arranged on a daily basis if necessary. This is also handy for running players you hate into the ground. And talking of players you hate, you know those players who simply refuse to leave the club, despite being transfer-listed for three years? You can give them a free transfer. And they die.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode