AH, THE online football management game. Many have tried. Few, if any, can truly claim to have succeeded. Names don't come any bigger than Championship Manager however, although it has now of course become diluted by the risible Champ Man 5. The waters are muddied further by this, a longstanding game put together by a bunch of Swedes, now given the CM branding. The Champ Man Kart Racing game and the Happy Meal can only be a goal kick away.
Essentially, online football management is all about logistics. One of the myriad reasons the high profile Sky Sports Football Manager failed was that to get the full effect, managers had to meet up at a specific time (often 12:22pm) in order to oversee their matches. Championship Manager Online circumnavigates this aberration by forcing you to predetermine your tactics depending on whether you're winning, drawing or losing at the 60-minute mark. The game then shuts down at midnight to calculate matches, the highlights of which can be viewed the next day - or at about 3am if you suffer from chronic insomnia.
It's mildly watchable, albeit featuring some fairly verbose descriptions of the play. You have to keep your eye on the action though, as if you drift off goals can be notched without you noticing - perhaps some kind of flashing scoreboard would have been appropriate.
Not that it matters, you can't do anything about it anyway. In fact, you can't do much at all. Once you've read your training report, configured your training schedule (which you'll inevitably leave on default) and your tactics, you're pretty much at a loose end. The rest of the time is spent attempting to set up transfers, which can be laborious. You can email other managers to negotiate, although to date nobody has replied. There's not even a match every day to occupy you, with gaps sometimes as long as five days.
On the plus side, as it's entirely Web-based, you can play it almost anywhere. As I write, I'm being served drinks by a beautiful woman poolside at my LA hotel, following a morale-sapping 4-1 defeat away to Leicester. There's something vaguely covert about sneaking off for an illicit match at a business centre, or while pretending to work on your wireless laptop (although in my case it is work).
Ultimately, it's the antithesis of the addictiveness of Football Manager 2005. You could rack up more hours in a single sitting of that game than in a week of CM Online. But for an extremely low-maintenance portable football world, it's tolerable. To paraphrase Dr Johnson, like a dog walking on its hind legs, it's not that it does it well, but that it does it at all.
Glorified beta test
- Portable gaming
- Not a resource hog
- Lack of action
- Not very active community