“ Publisher: Eidos / Type: Game - Football management „
As a keen follower of football management sims, I was eager to see how the format would work on my iPod touch. Sadly, at a ridiculously high price of £6.99, my first choice sim Football Manager was knocked off my list. At a lowly 59p, I decided to instead give Championship Manager 2011 a go. But is the game really as bad as AppStore reviewers will have you believe?
Aesthetically, the game is incredibly slick. Simple menus make great use of the touch screen, which sharp visuals depicting a six- tile menu giving access to functions from squad management to transfers. Moreover, a sub-menu can be swiped to access other areas of your managerial arsenal, such as league information.
The selection of teams is also impressive, with certain clubs even showing their real crests. The Championship, French Ligue 1 and Spanish La Liga are all licensed though the same can't be said for the Premiership. You can manage in five countries only but the database extensively covers even the most obscure leagues; unlike on PSP Football Manager I even managed to approach players from my favoured team in Cyprus, an impressive advantage over it's rivals.
Players are also realistically priced, though attracting them to your team does simply seem to stem from offering more money. What's more, loans are sadly omitted, making my managerial life at Crystal Palace a much harder journey. Nevertheless, a novel addition of a live press conference, where you can improve the board's, the fan's or the media's confidence in your reign is an interesting prospect. If it wasn't for the incredibly poor English used in the responses offered to you this addition would be yet another advantage over Football Manager.
When it comes to match day, an intuitive 'tactics' interface presents your team in your chosen formation, with each player depicted by a swipable icon. You simply drag and replace players in and out of your team with your fingertips, making a change of formation or personnel a breeze. Furthermore, another neat addition offers the chance to change the emphasis of your team, the twist being the inclusion of real life past tactics used by legendary squads. You can choose to play like a defensively minded Inter squad from the sixties, play a slick passing game like Barcelona '09 or even silky soccer of a sixties Madrid squad. Whether this changes your style during the game is debatable, but it is nevertheless a nice addition.
During the match itself the game begins to show its true weaknesses, though. First off, unlike in the most recent Football Manager games, entire games are not visually played out in the form of virtual 2D dots. Instead, this system is used to show only select highlights, with the classic text commentary taking precedence. Given the need for short and sweet games on a portable device this could easily be forgotten if it was flawlessly executed; however, player movement in these highlights mostly seems erratic and random, with your team sometimes shown to be attacking at the time you concede and free kicks making your whole team stream off to the other side of the pitch in an inexplicable glitch. Scorelines tend to be rather realistic, though, with very few routs and upsets few and far between.
Overall, then, is the game worth it? For my 59p I have a simple, intuitive football management game which lacks the bells and whistles of a polished Football Manager game while still managing to capture the beauty of management sims. It's not perfect, but it shows that Championship Manager is seriously trying to challenge Football Manager in the footy sim stakes, and for currently less than half the price of it's rival at £2.99, it's definitely worth a shot.