The football season may be almost over in the real world, but from the comfort of your own living room you can set about changing history with the belated '07 edition of one of the footie management genre's big guns. Well, former big guns.
Champ Man 2007 is bang up to date, with all the significant Premiership comings and goings from the January transfer window, plus current squads for the major leagues around the world. The detail becomes less exhaustive the further you stray from the well-known footballing strongholds, but we can't imagine many players will be dedicated enough, or experimental enough, to go on a managerial tour of Europe's lower divisions.
As a database, it's as visually pleasing as an Excel spreadsheet, but undeniably broad and better than last year. You pick the team, arrange pre-season friendlies, pay careful attention to the head-hurtingly huge list of stats (with a startlingly anal set piece editor being the standout) and deal with everything from hiring an assistant to mollycoddling a sulky foreign striker. Get things right, or take the team towards oblivion, and the press get interested too; from here the game conducts multiple choice interviews between you and them, with the Fourth Estate putting the boot in if they don't like what they're hearing.
Of course, visual excitement isn't the point in this sort of thing but it strikes us as strange that a game that requires such an input of time and effort during the week has such a negligible payoff come match day - though, of course, this is true of Football Manager as well, and at least Champ Man is slightly more jazzy with its icons and isometric viewpoint.
It's tough too. We failed horribly in our first attempt, which we'll blame on the new 'Managerial Expectations' feature. Right at the start of the season you're asked how well you think you'll do, and having proudly boasted that we'd be winning the lot this year (er, with Blackburn Rovers) the media marked us as clowns and our P45 was never far from the chairman's in-tray. If you choose more realistically then, smartly, it can have a good effect on confidence and crowds.
Ultimately, though, while CM is much improved, it still has problems. One is that it's undeniably better on a PC, where mouse control proves far quicker than the fiddly, annoying button combos here. But, more significant is the fact that it's still not as good as Football Manager.
Like a team trying to break into the top six, this shows real improvement - but it's still no Football Manager.
- Exhaustively detailed
- Slow-paced and thoughtful
- Not as good as football manager