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Championship Manager 03/04 (PC)

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12 Reviews
  • takes up a lot of HD space and runs pretty slow
  • Outdated now newer version are out
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      14.08.2008 01:43
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      If you want a Football Management Game you can rely on this is the game for you.

      This has to be my favorite ever version of Champo for a number of reasons.It was the last release before the makers went their separate ways some staying with the Champo team and some breaking away to form the new Football Manager game.It was the only version where I was able to actually do well with my club York City without bankrupting the club.

      I also when I started another season with Manchester United was of course reprimanded from the start for being a rookie manager and then further taunts from press fans and players alike when instead of playing my strongest 11 players I opted to go for a more youthful approach and slowly bring in these players.

      After a couple of seasons these players developed and their value and skills increased and then because I had such a good season with both Domestic and Cup success I was given the job of England Manager and instead of playing a familiar like up I chose to pick my up and coming crop of talented youngsters.

      There was one young player who I was really proud of his name was Richard Baker and when he first joined the club he was a raw 16 year old striker but I put him up front with the experience of Ruud Van Nistelrooy and then watched from the stands as I saw this young player turn into a clinical striker and by the time he had turned 18 I still had both the Man U and England jobs and made him captain of both of these sides.

      This made him and even better player and by the time he was 23 he was woth £25 million pounds and used to score goals for fun and it was even worth not going to bed for.Unfortunately the computer that had the game stored was not mine so this got wiped but I will always have the memories of the manager I aspired to be.

      I would still urge you to go out and buy the latest Championship Manager and if you can get hold of this version you will be able to live the dream like i did.

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      03.09.2005 00:30
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      This is a great game for all the football fanatics!

      Have you ever watched a football match and have been angry with what the manager has done with your favorite team? And you wanted to change what he had done because you think you could do better? Well now you can with this great football manager game.

      -*-*- How to start of a game -*-*-

      When you install the game you need to set up your own game, at first it comes up with about 20 nations and 50 divisions you can be in any of these divisions. Lets say for example you chose to pick the English nation and you planed to be the manager of a premiership team lets say...the champions of Europe (Liverpool) (yes I support them.) you will be asked to confirm that you want to manage this team once you have confirmed you are ready to go.

      -*-*- The old Liverpool team -*-*-

      Because this is championship manager 03/04 you will get the Liverpool team that you started with in 2003, so you would still have Owen, Murphy, Diouf, Baros etc. You so have the option to sell these players but you will probably find that you keep them because they are quite good.

      -*-*- Home Screen -*-*-

      You have a home screen, here you can see what team you have got you can see what positions you have assigned the players, and here you can change the tactics for your team. Also here you can check out the player's stats and a load of other things including fining the players for no reason but this usually ends up with the player moving club.

      -*-*- The Menu bar. -*-*-

      On the side of the home page and on any page you see the menu bar the menu bar helps you to navigate around everywhere. On the menu there are several tabs these tabs are; continue game, the manager, nations and clubs, Competitions and game options.

      Continue Game - This is the first tab on the menu bar, once you have finished doing a task then you will click this button to continue game hence the name continue game. When I said when you finished a task I mean for example when you have finished making alterations to your team or if you just finished reading mail etc.

      The manager - On the menu bar it won't actually say "The manager" it will say your name or the name you have called yourself as manager. Here you can check your Liverpool team (or whichever team you have chosen to manage) you could also check the Liverpool reserves (you can manage this team also.) Under this tab you can check out how your team is doing in the Premiership (or whatever division they are in.) Also you can check how the board feels with you as the manager. You can do a quick search for players that you maybe interested in buying. Also you can take a holiday this is a good option if you go for about 15 minutes because the assistant takes over the club, you can give him specific instructions or you can allow him to do whatever he wants if you choose this sometimes he might not take the best decision you can resign from the club to manage a different team or retire from football altogether, if you choose this option you will have to start a new game.

      Competitions - This has really got nothing to do with you or your club you do not need to go into this but if you do there is basically a list of all the competitions that are going on, from the division 3 in Africa to World Cup you can see how your club is doing if they are in any of the competitions going on.

      Nations + Clubs - Again this is another tab that you don't need all it does it gives you options like this;
      Europe>England>Premiership>Liverpool
      That will then show you the current Liverpool team and you can do this for any club in the world and you can also check the international teams.

      Game options - Here I think you can guess what is in here it is the usual options where you can save the game, change the skin, add manager so you can play two player on the same computer and edit prefrances.

      -*-*- You have mail. -*-*-

      Part of being a manager you have to control all of the mail that comes in and out. Most of this mail is rubbish like some foreign player has moved club you don't essentially need to know this. But there is some mail that you need to attend to, one of these situations may be if another club wants to buy one of your players or one of your players wants to leave, cup draws, retirements etc.

      -*-*- Its match time -*-*-

      Once you have got your team ready then its time to go to a match. If you have played football managing games previously then maybe there will be flash-ups of what is happening in the game but it never brings all the excitement, that's where Championship manager 03/04 is different. You can actually watch all the game on a 2d pitch and believe me even though it sounds a bit rubbish it is totally awesome. Another advantage of this is that you can see what players are not doing so great and then you can substitute them. At match time you have the option to change your tactics at any time. Once you get good enough at managing your own team you might even score a goal! I know that sounds a bit easy but you have to do a bit of fiddling around with your team to get them winning games. Anyway back to if you score a goal another good feature of the 2d pitch is that it gives you replays so you can re-live the moment. At match time you can check the formation of the other team so you can work off that. The options in the match are that you can change the 2d pitch only to highlights which I do because it takes forever. And you can alter the speed of the match.

      -*-*- Transfers -*-*-

      Your board is very generous and it gives you an average of about 17million to you to spend on transfers. To get to the transfers page you have to go to the manager tab on the menu bar and then player/staff search. If you know the specific player that you are looking for then you can just type his name in and if you have spelt it right then it should come up. If you don't particularly need a player and you just want to browse there is also that option and there is the final option of using the filter. The filter basically filters out the players that you do not want. It will ask you questions like do you want a defender, midfield or striker and then left footed or right footed and if you want it too it can look for the specific player that meets within your price brackets.

      -*-*- LAN -*-*-

      If you don't know that much on computers then you definitely won't know what LAN is, well, let me tell you LAN stands for Local Area Network and this basically means that you can play online with your mates who is in a different house. LAN is very fidgety to get to work because first off you both need to have the game and there is no point in copying because there is no crack available for this game. Anyway after you both have the game one of you needs to be the host this means that you will have to save the game etc. To connect to the "host" the other person needs the hosts I.P address and every computer with the internet has one. You can find your I.P addresses on sites like www.ipchicken.com etc. And then you should be away. To change all of the LAN settings you need to go into game options and then edit preferences.

      -*-*- The editor -*-*-

      If you are a real football fanatic you will want to have all then teams up - to - date and you can with the championship manager editor, the editor should come with the disk but if not you can download it off Championship Manger websites. The editor is basically the game in a easy programming mode you can move players to the clubs that they are in now, you can stop injuries from happening and allsorts you can even change the players name to your own. So al in all this editor is a really useful piece of kit.

      -*-*- Other things I forgot to mention -*-*-

      Well I don't think I have forgotten much apart from the system requirements although the LAN settings are a bid fidgety the game is extremely flexible it doesn't take up that much memory and only needs windows 98 or higher to run on and most computers now have XP so I'm sure it will run on your computer. Oh and I got the game for 10 pounds in Dixons I can I tell you it is well worth the money.

      -*-*- My conclusion -*-*-

      This is a really good game for those football fanatics. The is one major disadvantage for this game that is its too addictive once you start you just have to play for it hours on end. I think I will give the makers of this game a real pat on the back.. Although if you are not a football fanatic I don't recommend that you buy this game. My overall score for this game is a 5 out of 5. Great game and once again well done,

      I hope this helps, and thanks for reading,
      Ste231191 ©

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      • More +
        18.02.2005 18:00
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        Unless you have been living in a mud hut on the planet Zog for the past dozen years you must have heard of the Championship Manager franchise as it is one of the best selling games in gaming history.

        The History

        If you are just emerging from your hut here is a brief outline of the game.
        Championship manager (CM) is a series of football management Sims founded in 1994 by two brothers named Collyer under the guise of Sports Interactive (SI) and is published by Eidos. SI now boasts a large staff and 25000 researchers across the globe who are busy watching and gathering information on clubs and their players to be included in the game.
        CM is an imersive data based game that allows you to take control of football teams as the manager and through your tactical and managerial skills take your team to success in league, cup and international competition.

        There have been four incarnations of the game with seasons updates in between, the last one being CM4 and then the 03 / 04 update which introduced a 2 dimensional match engine for the first time.
        Each incarnation of the game has become more complex, involving and tries to be as true to the real experience of running a professional football team as possible.

        CM 03 / 04

        As with all the CM games attention to detail is paramount thus making it slightly daunting the first time you play purely because of the volume of information available on every aspect of the game and where to find it in a large number of linked screens. I will endeavour to uncover some of this so deep breath, here we go.

        Starting out

        When you start a game your first decision will be which team you want to manage, not a small decision as you have the choice of any team in 96 professional leagues from 43 countries plus all the national sides. I like the majority of players however will tend to choose the team they support I would imagine.

        So you have chosen your team, next you are faced with an almost daunting amount of information about your club, its finances, its players and back room staff.

        Your players

        The first screen you see is your first team squad. It also contains links, either buttons or drop down menu’s to all the other screens you will need to efficiently run your club. On this screen you pick your first team from your squad by dragging and dropping playing positions onto the name of the player you choose to play there. If you click on a player you are presented with a screen of stats for that player, giving you a run down of the quality of the player with ratings out of 20(the higher the better player) for 32 different attributes ranging from technical ability to mental and physical qualities. Links from this screen give you other information on the player such as his playing history, his value, whether he is happy at the club or what problems he has and his contract details
        Each club has three squads-First team squad, reserve team and youth squad.

        Tactics

        So you have picked your best available team, now you need to tell them how to play. There are a wide range of options as to how you want your players to play with direction possible on such things as where and when to defend or go forward, where to aim crosses or how hard to tackle etc. All the tactics you use are dependent on which team you are playing and the abilities of your own players.

        Training

        You can create training schedules to help your players keep fit and improve their ball skills. On this screen you can also assign which of your coaching staff will be in charge of which one of your squads, this also applies to your physio’s.

        Financial management

        At the start of the season your board of directors will give you a transfer budget for the season. This is the amount of money you have available to buy players and settle new contracts with your players.
        The financial screen also tells you what your weekly wage bill is and your other income, expenditure details such as gate receipts TV money on the plus side and ground maintenance, wages, bonuses etc. on the minus side.
        Your board wants to see profits so you have to try to keep your balance on the plus side if you want to keep your job.

        Back room staff

        You have an assistant manager who you can assign various jobs such as running your reserve and youth squads. You also have coaches to train your players; physio’s to look after their health and scouts to help you find new talent.

        Transfers

        All the options of the real world are available for you to approach players you want to come to your club. You can get a scout report on a player and once scouted you can study their stats and history before deciding if you want to sign them. When you have decided you want a player you approach the club they play for. If they agree to sell him to you, they may not or they may haggle over the price then you can discuss personal terms with the player. If he agrees then you have signed a new player. This is my favourite part of the game.
        Depending on your club and its financial position will determine which kind of player you can attract. For example if you were the manager of Man U you could attract players of quality like Beckham or Rooney and be able to afford their wage demands. If on the other hand you were in charge of Scunthorpe players of that quality would not be interested in playing for you and as for being able to afford to buy them or meet their astronomical wage demands, well forget it.

        News

        Every time you hit the turn button (each turn is one game day) all match results for that day are calculated. Also any transfer dealings or things of interest to you are shown on a news screen to keep you up to date with what is happening in the game world.

        Match day

        So you have picked your team got them trained and match fit. They know how to play and in theory know what they have to do to win so to the match.
        The match is played on a two dimensional pitch with coloured dots representing your players. There is also a running commentary displayed at the bottom of the screen. You have a choice of game speed and whether you watch the full game or highlights or just key moments. During the game you have the opportunity to fine tune tactics, make substitutions and move your players to different positions or change formation.
        The match engine is very good and the quality of the commentary certainly feed your imagination so as you feel like you are really at the match, feeling the joy when you score to despair when your team is not performing up to standard.

        Miscellaneous

        There are many screens giving you statistics and tables. Club confidence in your management abilities is also something to keep an eye on as a bad string of results or a poor financial position could put your job at risk. Temperature, weather and which referee is in charge all have a bearing on how you approach a match

        The main improvements from CM4

        CM4 was released in a bug-ridden state and a total of five patches were needed to get it to standard. Season 03 /04 however is the game CM4 should have been. If you are familiar with the game then the improvements over CM4 include-

        Updated player, team and competition data
        An improved match engine, which includes pitch, wear and weather effects
        Improved training system that now allows you to see how your training regime is affecting your players, so if it is not having the desired effect you can tweak it to do so.
        Information is now available on past meetings between the two clubs
        Improved scouting on both teams and players.
        Improved reporting and more realistic injury news including a new rehabilitation option.
        International B team and under nineteen caps are now reported
        Player’s relationships with other team members are now reported in more depth allowing the manager to deal with differences between players before it affects team moral.
        If you are doing really well as a manager other clubs or national sides may approach you to take over the running of their sides.

        The system requirements to run the game are not excessive however on less powerful machines loading and calculation times can be excessive.
        Recommended
        P4 1.2 Ghz
        256 Mb RAM
        600 Mb hard drive space

        My View

        CM season 03 / 04 is really addictive and absorbing. It will eat up large chunks of your life without you noticing if you are not careful but then if you are enjoying it who cares.It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to take Ipswich Town back to their glory days winning both the Champions League and the Premiership in the same season ( it only took me until game year2009)

        The Future

        Season 03 / 04 will be the last championship manager in the games current format after Sports Interactive split with Eidos. However this may not be bad news as Sports Interactive retained all rights to the game engine and will be releasing Football Manager later in the year. Plus Eidos who have the rights to the Championship Manager brand will also be releasing the next Championship Manager game at around the same time. So it will be interesting to see who comes up with the better game. Also it can be hoped that the competition will boost the quality of both games

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        • More +
          17.01.2005 17:10
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          • "Outdated now newer version are out"



          Any football fan will LOVE Championship Manager (CM) - thats a law in my book. As a person who has owned the majority of all CM games in the series, you think to yourself, it cannot get any better, it is miles ahead of its rivals. And then, WHAM out comes another version which is even better!!!

          First off I will write the requirements of the game:

          MINIMUM:
          IBM PC or 100% compatible
          Windows 98
          PII 600
          96Mb for one league
          128Mb RAM
          Direct X 8.1
          300Mb disk space
          Mouse/keyboard
          1024x768 32bit color display
          Football brain

          AIM:
          If you are reading this I am sure you have already played the game before on a different version. If you haven't, the basic aim of the game is to take control of a team of your choice, and get them as successful as possible. On the way, you have to set up transfers, deal with the press, train your team, improve morale, and all the realistic day-to-day jobs a manager has to make.

          FEATURES:
          There are as many as 200,000 players in this game, and 43 leagues to choose from - the database of this game is absolutely staggering.

          New to this game is a goal of the month/season award - which albeit does not do anything much to change the game is a nice addition.

          There is a training system available, where you can focus your training on various things like weight training or fitness or set pieces. You just simply choose the option from the schedule - the game play is really very easy.

          Odds are given for each match and your title chances, which I find very good :) but again it doesn't do much to the game other than add a little extra feature into it.

          There is a data editor in the game - YAY! This editor is VERY simple to use I thought , although the only thing you need is high memory, I wouldn't recommend any 256Mb RAM or lower users to try the editor unless you are brave!

          It is basically impossible to list ALL the features of the game but regular players can get my gist in that there is COLOSSAL things you can do on this game.

          LOOKS:
          The look is very easy to navigate, and to any owner of an earlier series you can adjust very quickly. There are 3 skins available which albeit are very similar. You can download more skins from various sites as mentioned in the manual, which I have done and make the game a little different.

          All colours and fonts are clear and well thought out, making them very easy to read and not too boring over time.

          The game itself looks neat, like similar games but introduces a 2D effect from bird's eye view. I find this particularly interesting as you can see where players are and what moves are being made etc....

          OFF THE RECORD:
          There was speculation that forwards score all of the goals....... well....... i can see why people say that, my partnership scored 60 goals in a season but I wouldn't say there was an OBVIOUS lean towards the forwards because let's face it, it's the strikers that score the goals!

          The game difficulty is hard to say. The game seems easIER than the previous versions but still not EASY. I think that a bad point of this game is that various features like the training and in-match tactics are not used a lot in the game - which sort of highlight a level of unrealism in the game as you do not have to be a committed manager to succeed.

          One thing I do like is that if you control a team you didn't support, after a while you tend to really like the team even in real life. The game educates you in football, and you will find yourself saying when you watch football in real life in a couple of years time - "Oh yeah he was that Cuban guy who played for Middlesbrough in 1999!" and yes it is that specific! Well for me it is anyway........

          On the whole 9/10 a GREAT game that lasts seemingly forever, football fans will love it as per usual, tons of features, tons of details, and tons of fun!

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        • More +
          12.01.2005 14:28
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          What can be said about this game? It is by far the greatest game ever invented and with each instalment it justs keeps getting better and better.

          the overview of this game is that you choose a team to manage from the many different leagues around the world, once you have chosen your team you are able to do what a football manager does, i.e. buy and sell players set tactics, organise training etc.

          i bought the game as soon as it came out and i am still managing the same team in what is now my seventh season as manager (Southampton).

          After winning 2 Uefa Cups, 2 league cups, one Premiership title and getting to the championsleague final during my managerial career with Southampton you would thing that a game can get boring but this one never does.

          The attention to detail is immense and all of the players in the game have attributes scored out of 20 in areas such as Finishing or Determination, these can go up and down according to how well you train your players and how they perofrm during each campaign. In some instances you can only see the attributes of players you would realistically have knowledge of making it more realistic and satisfying when you uncover a Guatemalian gem of a left winger.

          The 2D pitch adds alot more to the game as you can see the goals and tackles building up and see how well passing is with each player however this simulation still has a while to go to catch up to the quality of the other aspects of the game. It also makes the gameplay much slower so i would advise watching only the key highlights to get the ulitimum playing experience.

          The training also has a way to go and is best left to your assistant as it seems any slight alteration you make only has a detremental effect on your players attitude and attributes.

          With the creators (Sports Interactve) and the suppliers (Eidos) parting company after this installment it will be the last of its kind, its now up to these two giants of the Managment Gaming Industry to go back to the drawing board and try and create a game that surpasses what is one of the greatest experiences you will have in your life.


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          • More +
            06.10.2004 19:02
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            Recently filmmakers made a romantic comedy about “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days”. If the reverse film were to be made this game would almost certainly take centre stage. Such is the addictiveness of this game that it is actually marketed by its manufacturers as something that will destroy your relationship. They are not far wrong. This is undoubtedly the most addictive game I have ever played

            ** Game History **

            Championship Manager began life as the work of two football fans from Shropshire, Oliver and Paul Collyer, who developed the original game at home. Released in 1992 on the Amiga and Atari the game was a big success and prompted the first seasonal version to be released the following year. With each new seasonal release came additional functionality, detail, leagues and players. Made by a partnership between Sports Interactive and Eidos Interactive, the series went from strength to strength culminating in the release of Championship Manager 03/04, which sadly will be the last in the series.

            ** Single player/Multi-player Games **

            There are a variety of ways you can play this game depending on how addicted to it your friends/relatives/acquaintances are. Each have their own merits and disadvantages as detailed below.

            Firstly there is the single player mode. As the description might imply, this is played alone and only requires a single PC. The computer will manage all the other teams in the leagues you opt to include in your game. A single player game is the easiest and most accessible to play as all you need to continue your game is yourself and your PC. The drawback being of a single player game is that you are on your own for a long time. It is not a quick game to play and is a lot more fun and sociable if you are competing against friends. Having said that it is easy to save and continue the game meaning that you can start and stop as you like and make your way through the seasons at your own pace.

            Secondly there is the multi-player option where all players use the same PC. This option only requires a single PC and can accommodate multiple players. The computer will manage all teams not managed by a player in the leagues that you opt to include in your game. This multi-player option has the advantages of being more of a social event than the single player game and creating additional competition between managers. The drawbacks however are that it may be difficult to get all players together at the same time to continue the game (all managers need to be present to continue the game really) and it is really slow to play the game this way. It can be very time consuming looking for players to enhance your squad and negotiating a deal for that player. If you are playing a multiplayer game on the same PC then the length of this process is magnified while all managers do the same thing. I have never found it particularly practical to play the game this way for this reason.

            Thirdly you can play a multi-player game across a network. This option requires multiple PC’s and can accommodate multiple players (not necessarily one per PC as you can combine option two above with this option). The PC’s must be networked together and all have Championship Manager installed on them, although only one copy of the game is needed. A networked game allows managers to search for players at the same time, reducing the time spent waiting for other players to pick their team. A single computer will host the game (this PC needs to insert the CD to start the game). Once the game has been loaded, other PC’s on the network can join the game and become managers. As mentioned this method of playing a multiplayer game is much quicker than the second option described above and still maintains the competitive edge. Sadly it loses the social aspect of option two (unless the networked PC’s are in the same room) and it is still done in phases, so you can’t proceed with the game until all players are ready (which can be frustrating if you are having to wait for someone to search for players when you want to continue). I used to play across a network a lot when I was at University, as a lot of my housemates liked the game too.

            The final option is to play a multi-player game across the Internet. I must admit that I have never done this myself but I would imagine that it works in the same way as playing across a network it just uses the Internet as the network. Considering the amount of data used in the game and the fact that a single PC hosts the game I guess you need a fast Internet connection (broadband etc) to consider playing the game in this way.

            ** Starting a Game **

            Starting a game is quite a time consuming exercise as the database that will be used by the game once you are up and playing must be created and populated. It also worth bearing in mind that once a game has been created it is not possible to change the initial settings on the number of leagues included (and indeed the leagues that are included) and the size of the database so it is worth giving it some thought before you start.

            The main things to consider are the size of database you want to play with and the number of leagues to include in the game.

            The size of database you use will affect the number of players, teams and match data available in your game. The bigger the database the more players, teams and match reports in the game and visa versa. A side effect of the size of the database is the speed of the game. The bigger the database, the slower the game will be to process the data is a general rule although in my experience it is not normally noticeable until about the eighth season or so.

            Similarly with the number of leagues, the more leagues you include in your game the more teams and players from that league will be included in your game. As with the size of the database used the more leagues used causes a reduction in the speed of the game. This is because of the additional matches that must be “played” in the background. An upside of having multiple leagues in your game is that you can manage a team in any one of the leagues included in your game. Handy if you get bored of managing Manchester United and want to try your luck at Real Madrid.

            Leagues can also be added into your game on full detail or not. This determines the amount of information held about the league and the matches “played” in it. As you would expect this also effects the speed of the game.

            ** Leagues **
            As mentioned above when you create a game you include one or more leagues. Each league is set up with the teams currently in it (for the season 2003/2004), so for example the premiership consists of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Charlton, Bolton, Fulham, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Portsmouth, Tottenham, Blackburn, Man City, Everton, Leicester, Leeds and Wolverhampton.

            In addition to the league that is selected all other domestic and European competitions are included for that league too. So, keeping with the same example from above, using the Premiership would also add the Community Shield, Worthington Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Cup and Champions League. This is true of other leagues too.

            International teams and competitions are also added but only contain detail determined by the leagues selected. If you include the English leagues then you will be able to manage England and there is will be players in the England teams (Senior Team, U21 Team etc). This is true of other nations too.

            The bad news for all you budding international managers is that you can’t start the game as a national manager. You have to manage a club and build your reputation first then apply for national team coach when it becomes available (normally after every major championship that they don’t win). The good news is that you don’t have to quit your league job to become national coach. He would probably become quite a dull game waiting for the next friendly or qualifier so you can keep your club job and manage the national team at the same time. Bonus!

            ** Teams **

            Each team in the game carries its own details and these are changed based on the success/failure of the club and the money available to the club. There is an editor that can be used before starting the game to check on the stats for a club. Statistics held on a club include stadium size, maximum stadium size (it is not possible to expand some grounds – like Highbury), supporter base and reputation (which will affect the players that are prepared to come and play for your club).

            As in real life, each team has its own stadium where they play the home matches. The stadium has its own features including a capacity, which (along with the support base of the club) will determine the revenue received from each home game.

            Training facilities are also associated with a team. The standard of the training facilities will determine how often your players are injured in training and quickly they recover from injury. There are other factors that influence these effects like the type of training, how much time off the players have and how good the physios are at your club. There will be more about that later.

            Similar to training facilities, the quality of your youth academy will determine the quality of the youngsters that are produced. New youngsters are added to your squad each summer. Normally they are added into the under 19 team first and are then assessed by your coaches. At the end of their first year you can then opt to either keep the player or release them.

            Perhaps the most important feature of a team as far as a budding manager is concerned is the transfer budget and wage budget. Each team has its own budget defined based on its predicted income. The manager of the club (that’s you) must work within these budgets to improve your team and make them successful. Like I mentioned you have two budgets to work with. The first, the transfer budget, determines how much you can spend to get players into the club while the second, the wage budget, determines how much you should be paying in wages. If you over spend on wages then you will lose out on some of your transfer kitty.

            A club also comes with profiles for both board members and back room staff. Sadly as a manager you are not in a position to hire or fire board members, but you can pick your own back room staff. Again their wages are factored into your wage budget so the more coaches you have the less money you have for players wages. The board will make decisions on your job (hire/fire you) but can also be asked to improve the clubs facilities. As manager you can request a variety of things from the board, such as improvements to the training facilities, youth academy or stadium capacity. Back room staff are responsible for training the players etc and can also be used to assess a players progress within the team.

            A club will also have a reputation based on its recent success in domestic and international competitions. There are various levels to this reputation such as local, national and worldwide. The more leagues and trophies you win with a club the more you will improve the reputation of the club, which in turn will mean that better players will consider coming to play for you.

            ** Players **

            Basically players are determined by a set of statistics. Each player has a number of attributes like pace, acceleration, heading, shooting etc (many many more) and a set of hidden attributes like potential. The attributes range in value from 1 to 20 with 20 being the best. The higher the appropriate attributes for a players position, the better the player is. The hidden attributes like potential determine how good the player can become with the right training etc.

            There are two main ways to find players that you want to join your club. The first is to search through the extensive list of well-known players manually looking at their statistics and deciding for yourself. The second is to use the club scouts (part of the back room staff) to search a club or country. The scouts will find players that are not in the well-known player list and will give you an assessment, which is based on their potential and the reputation of your club.

            ** Matches **

            When you come to play a match you pick a starting eleven from your squad as well as some substitutes (between 5 and 7 for competitive games). The match is generated based on the statistics of the players fielded and some other conditions like weather etc. As a manager observing the game you can watch written commentary on the match as well as watch some stats on your players that will give you information on their health/fitness as well as their contribution to the game. Each player is awarded a score out of 10 for their performance in the game. The higher the rating, the greater the performance.

            ** Tactics **

            As any good football manager will tell you, match tactics can win or lose you a game. Luckily help is at hand where your team tactics are concerned. The game comes with a number preset tactics that can be used to organise your team during the game. The tactics included are varied in style and include a variety of tactics for adventurous, attack minded managers and cautious, defensive managers.

            For more adventurous players there is the option to define your own tactics. There are several elements to be defined when building your tactic:
            - Basic Positioning – the basic formation your team should use (4-4-2, 5-3-2 etc etc)
            - Positioning with the ball – the positions you want your players to take up when you have the ball
            - Positioning without the ball – the positions you want your players to take up when you lose the ball
            - Mentality – what you want players to do with/without the ball. You can define if the team will run with the ball, try through balls among others. This level of detail can be applied to positions as well as the whole team.

            ** Training **

            Training has become an integral part of the game and should be a big part of your management. As with tactics you have the option of using predefined training regimes or define your own training schedule. There are a few predefined routines included with the game and players are automatically added to these default training schedule when they join the club.

            A training schedule is defined by splitting days into 3 sections. Each section can have an activity in it and each activity is designed to improve a set of attributes for players. Rest is defined as one of the activities and it is important to remember to give the players a rest. The more intensive the training, the more likely they are to get injured doing it.

            Players and coaches can be assigned to training schedules on an individual basis making it easy to customise your squad training.

            If it all sounds too much for you, it is possible to get your Assistant Manager to organise the teams training.

            ** Transfers **

            Choosing and signing the players that are going to bring glory to your club is probably the most time consuming activity for a manager in this game, especially when you are working in a tight budget. The first thing to do is to identify your target (see above). Once identified, you have a couple of options:

            Buy the player – put a bid in with the players current club and once a fee is agreed, sort out a contract with the player and he’s all yours. Players can be part-exchanged to reduce the cash fee where required.

            Sign the player on a bosman – a player in the final year of his contract can negotiate with other clubs without the need to agree a fee. A tribunal determines the transfer fee later on.

            Loan the player – if you can’t afford to buy the player it is possible to loan him for various periods of time and with various options on wage contributions etc. It is also possible to negotiate a future purchase fee when agreeing a loan period.

            There are various other transfer options worth considering including buying first option on players and co-owning a player with another club.

            ** Player Contracts **

            As was mentioned earlier you have a wage budget that you need to work within when agreeing player contracts. The wage budget is set by the board and is derived from the wealth of the club and the expected earnings for the forthcoming year.

            It is possible to assign your Assistant Manager the task of handling contract renewals, although in my experience they tend to agree contracts that are too big and too long.

            ** Manager Options **

            As mentioned it is possible to remove elements of the game from your control by assigning them to your Assistant Manager. This is true of other areas of the game too. For example it is possible to let your Assistant control the Reserve team and the Under 19 team. Alternatively, you can take this responsibility yourself and guide your reserves to glory too.

            Arranging friendlies is another aspect that the Assistant Manager can do for you. I am normally engrossed in shopping for players and forget to organise some pre-season friendlies till the last minute. Your Assistant can do this for you and save the last minute run around trying to find some opponents.

            ** Moving Jobs **

            Nothing lasts forever, and neither will your management of a single club. Weather you are sacked for a poor performance or you feel you have taken the team as far as you can, there are two ways to find a new club to manage.

            Firstly there is the chance that you may be offered a job at another club. This normally happens when you are being successful at a club, you will be offered a job at a different club.
            Secondly you can apply for jobs when they become available or when the existing manager has a rating of insecure (each manager has a security rating on their job which is based on the boards assessment of their progress). If another manager is having a bad time then you can apply to the board to replace them as manager of the club.

            ** Other Features **

            There is some media interaction that the manager can make use of too. You can praise or criticise players for their recent performances. Praising a player can make them happier to be at the club and help them feel appreciated. Publicly criticising a player can either encourage them to admit their errors and improve or cause them to fall out with you can become unhappy.

            Additionally you can disciple players either verbally or financially. Financial penalties are not normally received warmly by either the player being fined or the rest of the squad, so beware.

            ** Graphics and Playability **

            The user interface for this game is fairly basic compared with most modern computer games. As I mentioned before the game works based on statistics and so a complicated interface is not needed. The interface is functional with most of the main links and functions you will need as a manager on the left side of the screen. The basis of the user interface has not changed a lot through the series, although the functionality has improved a lot.

            An improvement in the last two versions of the game is that you can watch the matches as they are played rather than just reading the commentary. The match is viewed in 2D with the players represented by coloured dots moving around the screen. I have never warmed to this view and prefer to watch the commentary and the player statistics.

            The game is very easy to play and also very addictive. The main menu easily facilitates the navigation around the game. The only draw back to the playability is the speed of the game as it can sometimes be quite slow to process all the scores.

            ** Technical Spec **

            The minimum requirements for this game are:
            Windows 98/Windows 2000/Windows XP
            PIII 600
            96MB for one league and a small database – 128MB on Windows 2000/XP (Obviously more memory is needed for more leagues and larger databases)
            DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
            4x CD-ROM drive
            1024x769 32bit colour display
            300MB free disk space
            Windows compatible mouse and keyboard.

            In reality a much better PC should be used to play this game. My PC exceed this specification and can struggle at times, so I would say this is an absolute minimum and serious players should be looking at something a lot better than this spec to play this game.

            ** Websites **

            I was going to include some cheats and some players tips in this review, but have decided against it now. I will however tell you about some good places to look if you do want this information. The Championship Manager series has become something of a cult game and as such has numerous sites devoted to forums and tips on the game. Possibly the biggest of these and certainly the most comprehensive one I have found is on the SI Games website. There is a section to their site called Community Forums where there are literally thousands of threads about players to buy, training schedules and tactics. Anything and everything you want to know about the game can be found here.

            ** My Experience **

            I became addicted to this game back in my first year in university when a friend of mine talked me into having a game. Once installed on my PC that was the last anyone saw of me for a couple of weeks as I attempted to guide Wrexham to Champions League glory. I would appear only to occasionally eat something and the rest of my time would be devoted to the development of my team. My grades at university slipped slightly after being introduced to this game and in all honesty I could probably point the finger at my addiction to this game for the reason behind my disappointing final grade.

            Anyway, since the earlier games in the series there are been a vast improvement in the complexity and detail in this game. Having never managed a football club I can’t say how true to life it is but this game covers every aspect of a managers job that I can think of and it covers it in sufficient detail to be realistic.

            I have had many (solid) months worth of fun playing this game and continue to do so now. In my opinion the game is best played with friends in one of the multi-player options described at the start of the game, although the hardcore fans of the game may find it frustrating waiting for your playing partner(s) to be available to continue the game.

            This game is designed to be addictive and to take a long time to play. Theoretically a game can go on indefinitely, playing season after season. With this in mind I would only recommend this game to football fans or fans of previous versions. Alternately if you are looking to lose a couple of weeks of your life you could do a lot worse than buy this game. From speaking to people, it seems that everyone has tried one of the games in this series. If you liked an earlier version of the game then you will like this version. If you didn’t like the earlier versions then aside from having a lot more detail, this is fundamentally the same game.

            If, like me, you are an armchair football fan and are convinced that you can do a better job, then why not prove it?

            ** Future Releases **
            I mentioned at the start of the review, this game is the last in the series. This is because the partnership between Eidos and Sports Interactive has come to an end and both parties have decided to have a go at their own version. So, from later this year there will be two versions released in direct competition:

            Eidos are releasing Championship Manager 5 (they have kept the rights to the name) around October, which I believe will be a development of the user interface from the current game with a new database.
            Sports Interactive have teamed up with Sega to release Football Manager 2005, which is due to be released before the end of the year. I believe this will use the database and stats from current version and have a new user interface. I have seen some of the screen shots for this version and it looks impressive.

            Only time will tell if these two versions can replicate the success of the original game. For now enjoy Championship Manager 03/04 and try to find time to do other things.

            Thanks for reading

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              20.09.2004 15:57
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              I started out playing championship manager games back in 2001 with cm 01/02 and being a console game player up until that point was amazed at how far advanced the game was over what the consoles had to offer.

              After that point I have bought every version of championship manager up to championship manager 03/04 which unsurprisingly is the best of the lot. I must admit when I first bought the game I was disappointed with the developments made from cm 4 but after playing through a season and downloading a few extras and updates, (Incredibly easy to download-one of the biggest online communities around) I realised that I was hooked and couldnt tear myself away from the screen.

              The game has a pre game editor included allowing you to manually change players, staff, teams and even media sources so now I even get stories from my local newspaper. Its easy to use and a lot of the editor is automated. For example if I were to put Sven Goran Eriksson in charge of Manchester United this would automatically reset Alex Ferguson to being unemployed and reset all the Man U players happiness towards the manager (some may like Sven, some may not). Of course you dont have to update all this yourself you can just download updates and utilities from one of the many sites that can be found in the cm community. The editorial process can take hours and hours so id suggest downloading the updates.

              The game itself is complicated for people who have never played championship manger before but after a couple of hours you would start to get used to it. When you start a new game you can pick from well over a hundred leagues to play but be warned this game uses a lot of memory. My computer has 1024mb of ram but if I run more than about 4 leagues the game gets irritatingly slow and I end up getting bored. I recommend that if your gonna manage a premiership team then you should just pick the premiership and the championship.

              Once you get used to the game you will see just how good the game is. You can control everything from training schedules to making requests for training facilities to be improved. Of course your requests are not always met with happiness by the chairman and he can end up getting mad with you. If your confident enough you can always give him an ultimatum but ive noticed that nine times out of 10 when I do this I end up with the sack.

              The players are all accurate and at the right clubs although you will notice that although the teams in each league have been corrected and the players all moved to their respective clubs the game always starts in 2003.

              The reason id say this was the greatest game in the world is that its so addictive. I still cant put it down a year after I first got it. The game has been set in such a way that when you achieve something such as promotion with a small team like Rotherham you get a great sense of achievement. This is also the only game that ive ever known where a player can get mad with me for not selling a teammate he doesnt like. There are emotions i.e morale, happiness with manager, attitude towards the club etc. You even get to respond to transfer rumours or make some yourself in order to unsettle a player or find out whether his club are willing to sell or not.

              The gameplay is excellent and the life of the game is endless so if youve never played cm games before then this is highly recommended. What I will say is that if you dont like football then I wouldnt bother as this is 100% for football fans. 9.5 out of 10.


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                20.09.2004 15:57
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                I started out playing championship manager games back in 2001 with cm 01/02 and being a console game player up until that point was amazed at how far advanced the game was over what the consoles had to offer.

                After that point I have bought every version of championship manager up to championship manager 03/04 which unsurprisingly is the best of the lot. I must admit when I first bought the game I was disappointed with the developments made from cm 4 but after playing through a season and downloading a few extras and updates, (Incredibly easy to download-one of the biggest online communities around) I realised that I was hooked and couldnt tear myself away from the screen.

                The game has a pre game editor included allowing you to manually change players, staff, teams and even media sources so now I even get stories from my local newspaper. Its easy to use and a lot of the editor is automated. For example if I were to put Sven Goran Eriksson in charge of Manchester United this would automatically reset Alex Ferguson to being unemployed and reset all the Man U players happiness towards the manager (some may like Sven, some may not). Of course you dont have to update all this yourself you can just download updates and utilities from one of the many sites that can be found in the cm community. The editorial process can take hours and hours so id suggest downloading the updates.

                The game itself is complicated for people who have never played championship manger before but after a couple of hours you would start to get used to it. When you start a new game you can pick from well over a hundred leagues to play but be warned this game uses a lot of memory. My computer has 1024mb of ram but if I run more than about 4 leagues the game gets irritatingly slow and I end up getting bored. I recommend that if your gonna manage a premiership team then you should just pick the premiership and the championship.

                Once you get used to the game you will see just how good the game is. You can control everything from training schedules to making requests for training facilities to be improved. Of course your requests are not always met with happiness by the chairman and he can end up getting mad with you. If your confident enough you can always give him an ultimatum but ive noticed that nine times out of 10 when I do this I end up with the sack.

                The players are all accurate and at the right clubs although you will notice that although the teams in each league have been corrected and the players all moved to their respective clubs the game always starts in 2003.

                The reason id say this was the greatest game in the world is that its so addictive. I still cant put it down a year after I first got it. The game has been set in such a way that when you achieve something such as promotion with a small team like Rotherham you get a great sense of achievement. This is also the only game that ive ever known where a player can get mad with me for not selling a teammate he doesnt like. There are emotions i.e morale, happiness with manager, attitude towards the club etc. You even get to respond to transfer rumours or make some yourself in order to unsettle a player or find out whether his club are willing to sell or not.

                The gameplay is excellent and the life of the game is endless so if youve never played cm games before then this is highly recommended. What I will say is that if you dont like football then I wouldnt bother as this is 100% for football fans. 9.5 out of 10.


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                  21.08.2004 19:29
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                  All I can ask is where does time go, because when you play this game, it disappears, or seems to. You just cant help being addicted to it if your winning, or like me fighting relegation. ( If im going to choose spurs what do I expect). The game itself has an easy to use menu, and you can choose the displays to how you want. You can choose how indepth you want to watch the games, and you have plenty of ingame optionsto keep thinking and wondering what your next masterstroke will be. The prematch options are huge with options of where to play players who takes what, when they do it, and how your team plays. There are so many other features such as transfer market, other job information your club information, and so much more, that makes the game so indepth, and a joy to play. This game is what you need if a) You love football b) You like pcs c) You can do better than your club manager

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                    19.05.2004 02:00
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                    • "takes up a lot of HD space and runs pretty slow"

                    Championship Manager's latest, and in it's current form, last incarnation is Season 03/04. For many years the Championship Manager series has set and raised the bar in football management simulations, and the latest release is no different. The word 'simulation' is an important one here. There are other options on the market if you want manage a football team, such as the Premier Manager series or Total Club Manager. However, I would class these as 'games', rather than 'simulations'. I never feel as if playing Championship Manager (CM) as playing a game - it's my job, and I feel pressure, anxiety, happiness and excitement. In CM you start by choosing which team you would like to manage, which encompasses nearly every professional team from over 40 leagues around the world. Unlike some games, there is no option to be a 'coach' or a 'manager', you are the manager and nothing else. You can transfer some less important jobs to your assistant manager (provided you have one), such as managing the reserve and youth side, training, taking control of friendly matches and contract renewals. But everything else is controlled by you - team selection, tactics, buying and selling players & staff and team management during matches. There is more to football management than picking a team, and once you have picked 11 men you must decide formations and tactics. CM has many default formations, but also allows you to customize them to your liking, however I have seen games with more flexibility in this area, as there are only certain positions players can play in. Slight adjustments are non-existant, as a midfielder for example, is either a Defensive Midfielder, Midfielder or an Attacking Midfielder. One good feature which other games do not necessarily support is that whatever you change during a match (formation, tactics etc.) will not be reflected in the formation after the match. So if you go
                    all out in the last 5 minutes, it won't start the next match like that. There are many tactical options, both fot the team and for the individual players, such as where to stand for throw-ins, corners and free kicks. This is where CM wins, the devil really is in the detail. With the 2D match engine (more on that later) you really can see what effects your decisions here are having. Deciding who takes throw-ins, corners and free kicks and who goes where can mean the difference between a goal, and well, not. You are given a transfer budget by your club at the beginning of the season, as well as expectations of the club's board and the supporters. Which is more important is arguable, but only the board can sack you remember. The transfer budget could be zero, if your club is in debt, or a very large one if you pick a top side. You can hire backroom staff to help you at the club, such as assistant managers, coaches, scouts and physios. Scouts come in very handy when assessing a player you're thinking of buying, a process which you control. Now this could be said to be unrealistic, as the manager's job at some clubs is to give a list of players to the chairman, who then goes away and does the dealings and comes back with whoever he could get on the budget. I'd like this to be implemented into future versions, as the current way is rather blanket and could be more realistic. But for now you can enquire about the availablity of a player, or just go in outright with a bid. I'm not going to go into too much detail, but there are many elements to a player's contract these days and these are reflected. Some agents will ask for much more than a player is worth for his weekly wage, and some can be more fair. You have to be shrewd, as financial ruin will not go down well with the board or the supporters, and you will find yourself browsing the Job Opportunities page. You view matches via a top-down view, with players re
                    presented as circles on a football pitch. The movement of the players is relatively realistic, despite the odd hiccup. I know it is very difficult to accurately depict real player movement, but CM does it pretty well. From here it is quite easy to see where your tactics or individual players may be performing or not. In order to do this properly you must watch the whole match, which is one of the options, or you can view extended highlights, key highlights or just text commentary. I used to watch whole matches, but not any more, as it takes around an hour to view one game as it is slightly faster than real life. But key highlights are pretty good for getting a general idea of how your team is playing, particularly for set pieces - changes you make here are instantly noticeable. The match engine is, however, plagued by 'blips' - unrealistic moments, like playing a corner to the halfway line, or a ball bouncing in from 75 yards (this happened to me twice in one season). Overall, CM is the best out there. The next CM game will be made by different developers, Beautiful Game Studios, a company set up by the publishers Eidos. The original game will carry on updated under the name Football Manager 2005, published by Sega. There are many things about CM which make it the best, things I haven't mentioned here. The reasons for this are simple - if I list them all I won't get any dinner anytime in the next few hours, and also because it's great when something happens that makes you think "That's really good!". OK a few examples; when a scout tells you someone will never make it in professional football, when the fans erect a statue in your honour, when your player wins goal of the month, or when arguments break out between managers and players over who should play and end up in fan polls. You like football, right? Get this. And forget seeing daylight.

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                      01.04.2004 17:35
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                      Anyone with a PC gaming sense and an avid football fan will already know about the championship Manager series. They are more or less adding a new version to the shelves every year to include game improvements and player updates. As the last major update was championship Manager 4, CM 03/04 has built upon this version with lots of extra improvements and all the latest player transfers. After playing this game for 3 weeks, I'm going to give a rundown of all the improvements I've noticed since playing. Transfers & Team updates ********************************** As with every new version of Championship Manager, you have all the latest transfer updates. So if you choose to manage Real Madrid, you have the likes of Beckham, Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo and Raul. If you choose to manage Leeds, you won't find the likes of Woodgate and Kewell at the club and there won't be any money to spend on transfers. There are also team updates filtered down the divisions, so that Wolves, Leicester and Portsmouth are in the Premiership and Sunderland, West Ham and West Brom are in Division one. Improved Match Commentary *************************************** The match commentary has been significantly improved with better texual descriptions. Ones that stand out are "he holds his head in his hands", after a player misses an easy chance on goal and 'he's having a storming match' after one of your players continues to turn the opposing defences inside-out and creative good openings. Disciplinary Committee ******************************** When one of your players gets sent off in a match they will automatically receive a one match ban. You will then be informed on your news flash, that your player will meet with the disciplinary committee at a certain date, and a descision will be made as to whether the ban will be extended. If the ban is extende
                      d, then after the date of the meeting, your player will be hit with a further suspension. This certainly adds more reality to the game. Action Replays ************************ Added in this version are new action replays of match goals. So when you weren't looking at your screen, but caught a glimpse of the flashing 'Goal' text, you can see exactly what happened in the replay, without having to visit the match report at the end of the match. However, I turned this feature off, as you often think that you've scored another goal, only to see its a replay of the last one! Goal Of The Month **************************** This new feature of CM 03/04 picks out 3 of the best goals in your division. There are awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for the best goals, which includes which player scored it, a description of the goal and who it was against. You can even click to watch each goal! This is normally decided at the same time as Manager, player and young player of the month awards. Knocks During A Match ****************************** In previous versions of CM, you would normally have an injury show up as a red cross during a match next to that player, which would result in that player having to be replaced. With slight injury knocks during a match that did not result in a player having to be withdrawn, you would only get a quick commentary description to mention that the player would be ok to continue. If you missed that bit of commentary, you don't know which of your players are carring a slight injury. This could influence your team's performance. CM 03/04 have improved this by including a green cross next to players who have picked up a knock during the match, but who are ok to continue. So now you can identify which players you are more likely to replace in a substitution. Pitches & Pitch Animation *************************
                      *********** Both the tactics screen pitch and the match pitch now look more realisitic and reflect the match conditions. On a hot dry day, the pitch is more green and crisp, but on rainy and dull days, the pitch is more muddy in certain areas like the penalty box and half way line. Offsides and bookings are now visible and animated in the bottom right-hand-side of the pitch. If there is an offside, an offside flag appears, and when there is a booking, a yellow or red card will appear and then fade out. Both the offsides and bookings animation coincide with the match commentary so that the animation appears exactly as it happens. Offering Players To Clubs ************************************* One significant part of the transfer market was to offer a player to clubs at the price you list, in the hope of getting an offer for that player. The anoying thing with CM 4 was that you could offer players to all your current division clubs, but you couldn't offer them to lower divisions in one click as you had to add each and every team to the list one by one. The new feature includes extra options to add all lower division clubs to the list in one click. If you're managing a team in division one for example, you can now choose to offer a player to all interested clubs, your assistant's recommended clubs, all your current divsion clubs, all division 2 clubs and all division 3 clubs. This now makes the whole process a lot easier. Ist International Cap ************************** You now have a news flash that will alert you to the feelings of one of your players' getting a first cap for their country. So if you had a promising youngster who managed to get his first England cap, you will get a short message to state that the player was proud of their first cap and that your management of the club had helped him win that cap. Transfer Detail Finances **********
                      ************************** In the finances section of your team there is now an improved addition of all the transfers that will affect the finacial state of the club. If you sold a player with a sell-on clause, it will be listed in this section as a possible future income, and it will also list all the monthly installments you may be getting from a player sale. As an example, the description will consist of a list which includes, a player's name, the type of clause (i.e monthly installment or sell-on clause) and a description like; 'Sheff Wed owe another 1k p/m for the next 20 months' in the case of a future monthly installment. This now gives you a better idea of all the future income you are likely to get, but will also include money that you may owe to other clubs for similar clauses. System Requirements ******************************** The minimum requirements to run the game are as follows: P3 - 600mhz or equivalent Windows 98/XP 64MB RAM (128 with XP) Graphics: 1024x768 32bit colour required 3D video card with 16 Mb DirectX 8.1 compliant For optimum performance, a 1Ghz or above processor, with 512MB or more RAM, will give you a fast gaming experience. If you don't have a state of the art system, but have the minium requirements, it would be a good idea not to run any additional leagues in your game's background and set the database level to 'low'. Championship Manager 4 or 03/04? ******************************************** The improvements and added features I've listed in this review are just some of the ones that i've noticed in CM 03/04, but there are lots more to discover. You will notice a vast difference in the game speed, as it seems significantly faster than that of CM 4 when loading up, closing down and processing in between matches. In answer to this question; CM 4 was
                      released with a lot of bugs in the game, which included dissappearing goals, messages saying that your team hadn't qualified for the next stage of a competition when they had, missed penalties showing up twice on the match screen, team name's scrolling off the screen and even game crashes! There were bug fixes for this game that were free to download from the official CM website, but if you didn't have the Internet, you'd just bought a game full of bugs for £34.99 at the time. You can now buy CM 4 for £15.99 on play.com, but why pay that when you can buy a much better game in CM 03/04 for £2 extra at £17.99? Championship Manager 03/04 is merely an update for CM 4, so you won't want to pay more than £20 for it. At £17.99, it is a must have recommended game, which is a vast improvement to that of CM4.

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                        18.03.2004 00:37
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                        Here goes for my first game review! If you like football, and own a PC, you are bound to have heard of (or played) a game from the fantastic Championship Manager series. It is by far the best footie management series ever made (Premier Manager?! PAH!), and manages to keep many blokes off the streets and sitting going square eyed instead! HISTORY The series started back in 1992 when two Shropshire football fans (Paul & Oliver Collyer) decided to write their own game. They were fed up with all the other (rubbish!) games out there and decided to make a game for true football fans. They took their finished game to Electronic Arts, who turned them down! What mugs they must feel now after refusing the best selling PC game of all time! A small company called Domark (later to become Eidos) saw the potential and snapped it up. History was made! Over the past 12 years there have been regular updates (mostly yearly), always improving on the previous version. In between each major release (CM1, CM2, CM3, CM4) there were updates released based on the previous release (such as CM97/98 being a much improved version of CM2 etc). In 1995 Championship Manager 2 was released. With it?s new look, much improved game engine, true commentary, and greatly improved player data it managed to put SI Games on the map. Universally acclaimed, and a worldwide bestseller. 1999 saw the release of Championship Manager 3, with a complete new look but still based around the same basic (award winning) premise. As PC?s were getting more powerful, the amount of data included in the game could be increased, and as such, the games realism was taken to a whole new level. E
                        ;arly 2003 saw Championship Manager 4 fly off the shelves to the number of 103,000 within the first weekend of its release! Nearly ten times the amount of players were present in this new version, as well as increased team & league data. The biggest change was the inclusion of a graphical display of the match in progress. You can actually sit and watch your players hoof the ball around the pitch! CM4 was full of bugs when initially released, but these were almost all ironed out within a few months (and five patches!). All in all there was a mixed reaction, as many people thought the game was rushed. Still a fantastic game, but almost unplayable to some people at first. Anyway, on to the latest version?.. Championship Manager ?03/04 is based on CM4 taking into account all the customer feedback from it (as SI Games are famous for, the only games company who truly listen to their customers!). Very similar to look at, but behind the scenes there has been a huge amount of work done. This game truly is exactly what CM4 should have been! BASIC IDEA OF THE GAME Choosing a team from over 40 leagues from around the world, you must take control of buying/selling players, hiring/firing staff, player training, and team tactics. It is up to you to take the team to glory (or crash and burn!). With over 200,000 players in the game you truly have near limitless potential to find the best players to suit your budget and team tactics. YOU choose the players who will feature in the matches, and YOU chose exactly they will play during the match. Just chomp non-stop on a lump of gum and call yourself Fergie! Armed with your handpicked team of scouts you can scour the world looking for that elusive genius of a player th
                        at could make or break the season for your team. You can even design the tactics for the match from scratch if you feel brave enough! With all major competitions included (as well as most minor ones) you can take your team to cup and league glory, as well as watch your youngsters improve and even break into the national teams! IMPROVEMENTS FROM CM4 I?ll say a little about the major changes in this version, and list some of the smaller (but significant) changes that have also been made?. Pre-game Editor: As last seen in CM3, the editor is added so you can go in and update any information you want to within the game, you can add, delete, alter any player/team you like, but I wouldn?t recommend it without reading up on it first! I managed to knacker the player data first time I tried ;) Improved Player to Player Relationships: Interaction between players is greatly improved in this version. Now you can see exactly what one player thinks of another, whether they idolise them, or want to punch their teeth out! A great added realism, which can affect the entire team. Improved Media Feedback: The media is much more involved in this version. Anything from criticising players, to calling for your resignation! You can counter some of the stories by giving replies to comments received through the media, and even use it to your advantage (such as praising players etc). Match Engine Updated: The overall match engine has been tweaked to make it more realistic, after many flaws were found within CM4 due to the 2D match display. Problems that were never noticed before became wholly apparent when watched in glorious 2D. Improvements to the offside part, as well
                        as visual enhancements such as matchday weather (which also affects the play). Visual indicators have been added to improve the 2D display to make it easier to see which players have been booked or injured etc. As well as the usual flashing text on screen during a match, you also have the added effect of voice commentary (most people tend to turn this off!) Another improvement to the match engine is the replay function. Whenever a goal is scored you can watch the action through again. Very handy if you, like me, tend to miss the flashing text sometimes! Training Screen: In CM4 the training screen was a little difficult to navigate and understand, meaning most people tended to leave it exactly as they found it. A bit of a shame seeing as it is obvious how much work and effort had been out into it by the boys at SI Games. The updated training screen is now so easy to use, that it is an absolute joy to muck around with! Every change you make affects a little bar chart in the top right hand corner, so you know exactly how your changes affect the overall training of the team, and where it is lacking etc. Each portion of the day in which you can allocate a training session is now replaced by a nice simple drop down menu. Another good addition to the training is the fact that you can select in each players profile to see the affects of training on that specific player! Very useful indeed. Also added are the following: *Goal of the Month *Goal of the Season *Past Meetings ? You can check up on how your team did last time you played the team you are about to meet *Player Co-ownership ? much like in Italy, you can share a player if needs be. *Coach Profiles Improved ? They now show a list of their favoured players in your team. *U
                        pdated Player, Team, and Competition Data. MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS PC: Windows 98/ME/XP/2000 Pentium 4 1.2 GHz 256 MB RAM 600 MB Hard Disk space 1024x768 Screen Resolution In practise these are generally recommended system requirements. The game works fine on my 700 MHz Celeron with 256 MB RAM! Mac: Mac OS 9.2.2 / Mac OS 10.2 or later PowerPC G4/G5 500 MHz 256 MB RAM 500 MB Hard Disk Space 1024x768 Screen Resolution COST Available through almost every games outlet for around £29.99, although you can get it from Amazon.co.uk for an amazing £17.99. MY THOUGHTS As I said already, this game works fine on my lowly 700 MHz Celeron. It actually seems to run quite a bit faster than CM4 did, so a big pat on the back for those poor workaholics at SI Games. The game is not graphically stunning (none of them have been), but a game with this amount of sheer playability really doesn?t need all the bells and whistles. You?ve just got to look at Total Club Manager to see what I mean (looks good, plays like a three legged mule). I have spent many hours of my life (probably whole months in fact) playing CM in its various guises, and this truly is the best game so far. Everything works perfectly, and is so easy to navigate around using the mouse and nothing else, that even my 10 year old brother could pretend to be the next Arsene We
                        nger with ease. It is so satisfying to succeed at this game, whether you win the FA Cup, or simply beat those b******* Manchester United with lowly Huddersfield! The game is simply a work of genius, and I reckon all at SI Games should be knighted (slight over-enthusiasm there eh). THE FUTURE Sadly this is the last ever Championship Manager game to be developed by SI Games. They have split from publisher Eidos who have kept the copyright (and are releasing their own version later this year). BUT SI Games are continuing the series under a different name, so keep your eye out for the next instalment around Christmas time named Football Manager 2005. I thank you Cheers for reading, Marc

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