Developer: Beautiful Game Studio Publisher: Eidos Interactive Platform: Windows, Mac OS X Release Date: 2nd November 2007 (EU) PEGI: 3+ Championship Manager 2008 is, as the name would suggest, a football management simulator and is amazing. Every football fan wants his/her club to buy a certain player or feels aggrieved when they sell a star. Management simulators allow you the freedom to be in control and pretend to be the next Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. This is a piece to explain why I love this old game so much (this will be slightly bias).
I have been playing the Championship Manager series since what seems like the dawn of time. In CM’01/02 I would always play as Bayern Munich, then in CM2008 I’d collect young stars like Jeffrey Bruma and Paris Cowan-Hall. I’ve not played every iteration of the game but I’ve spent a good amount of time in the ones I have. The 2008 version for me, is as perfect as football management sims can get, I’m definitely not saying it is perfect and has no faults as every piece of digital entertainment has some floors, but CM2008 has so many pros that out way it’s few cons.(in my opinion) I’m not going to get into a debate about SI Games and Beautiful Game Studio (Championship Manager vs Football Manager) as that not the point of this article.
The first reason this game is good is anyone can play it!. Referring to game requirements for PC’s, as the game is three years old now and with the ridiculous pace of the computing world any computer bought today or in the last 2 years will definitely be more than capable of running the game along with many other computers from years previous. with that bonus reason thrown in I’ll proceed to tell the real reasons this PC game is such a favourite of mine. Championship manager 2008 offers all the features you would expect of a game of it’s type. You can buy and sell/fire staff and players, scout for talent, set team tactics and set training schedules to name some.
Champ Man 08 has a top and bottom menu system refined from the one seen in the 2007 version. You have seven icons along the bottom at all times; Manager Menu, Competition Menu, Clubs and Nation Menu, Screen History, New Mail, Prozone and the Options Menu. The top menu options change for the appropriate situation. For example you have different items in the top menu bar during a game compared to when you are viewing your squad from the home screen. Each of the seven menu options that run along the bottom reveals numerous related options once clicked. I think this system works really well, everything you need is stored here and you know exactly where to go to find it. It is small and compact so it doesn’t take up much of the game screen and flows well across the news ticker to the date and ‘go’ button the other side. First time players might need an hour or so to get used to the icons as the names only appear as a piece of roll over text, but I’d rather take the time to learn them instead of having a large wordy menu system. The surround for the menu is grey then the colour of your chosen team forms the main heading at the top of the screen, then when not in a match a random football related image becomes your background. The team selection screen is nicely laid out with players listed in two columns down the screen with small rounded edge rectangles to one side (to place position marker in) and positions listed to the right. It is easy to see all your players, what positions you have them in and their recommended positions, It doesn’t feel like your looking at a database table which I find annoying with newer management games. 2008 is the last CM game to use its old match engine with little poles for men, this is the way it was done before 3D match engines came in 2009 with Football Manager. The pitches look good, some have more wear than others but graphics wasn’t something these games where about.
So my first reason for loving Champ Man 08 is how it looks. It doesn’t have a flashy match engine but I’ve never felt down because it doesn’t, I’ve seen Championship Manager 2010’s engine and it look ok but any slight imperfection in the animations or silly mistakes look ten times worse because you expect them to behave properly as you actually have men on the field. If Bruma (or any defender) makes a horrible mistake when trying to tackle, as frustrating as it is, I can almost forgive him because he is just a stick. I also like how the menu is out the way and I have a nice friendly team view screen that isn’t over complicated. With all that said it is probably a lot to do with the fact I’m so used to the game and would have to spend time to familiarize myself with newer versions, but no new game has looked as clean and simple as CM2008 to make me take the lead and move on.
The good stuff. This is what the game is all about. The game came under criticism back in the day I believe because ‘it didn’t seem to know who it was aiming at’ and I can kind of see why. It has the basic features to allow new players in without being overwhelmed but also has the tactical options to try and keep hardcore fans happy. For me though the amount of options available for tactics is more than enough to get serious.
CM2008 has 27 countries that have playable leagues from Ukraine, Norway, Japan, Chile and all the European teams, the only league that I can think of that is noticeably absent is the MLS. It also has a good depth to the leagues, every country has at least two divisions with the exception of Chile, Mexico and Australia but lots have three or four so there is no shortage of unheard of teams to play if you fancy a real challenge. If however you want to take it easy you can apply the ‘Club Benefactor’ option that gives you more funds and helps keep you in your job.
Once you are in the game you can begin taking over the world. You can set your starting XI, fire those useless turkey’s that never perform, try and sign Messi and more, players are important and Championship Manager 2008 has, as you’d expect, lots. To find the player you want you have a multitude of ways to go about it, search the name in the overall search bar, find his team through the clubs or competition menus but most likely by using the ‘Player/Staff Search’. The ‘Player/Staff Search’ takes you to a list of the games players listed according to value (on mine in 2020 Gabriel Firmino Junior is top). From here you can then refine your results using the ‘Filter’ menu, you can set what position your looking for, wages, nationality, stat in a specific skill and everything that you can imagine. The results however do seem to vary depending on your nationality as a manager and the league your currently playing in but big stars will appear regardless of this.
When you have the team you want you will need to tell them what to do, tactics. The game has 25 pre-set formations and you can alter those nearly endlessly, the ten – one formation is available if you really want it and from here you can give players directions to run or feed the ball. ‘Set Instructions’ is used to give team and individual tactics. You can apply general settings for passing, closing down, tackling, mentality and others in the team instructions. For those who want a bit more control you can set individual instructions for each of your players allowing greater refinement to get your team working like a well oiled machine. For me the individual instructions allow the freedom to get my players to do near enough what I want (‘near enough’ compensating for silly AI moves that always happen in games), They cover the keys areas and give drop down lists for selection, I guess the real hardcore players might find these a bit restrictive but I’d like to think I’m close to hardcore and they have never been a problem for me.
REGENS, all football sims have this I think but I love them in CM2008. Regens are regenerated players that the game uses to make sure there is always plenty of players to buy regardless of how far into the future you go. When a player retires; lets say Ryan Giggs, a new player will be created, like a clone. I love spending hours searching youth teams to find these gems. What’s even better in CM2008 is you can catch great players that no longer play so subsequently don’t appears in newer versions of the game.
To wrap this up, CM2008 is my perfect game because: 1) The crop of players are brilliant, some old legends are still around. 2) Its clean and simple, menus are small and unobtrusive and the team selection is uncluttered. 3) There has rarely been a time I’ve said “I wish to could do …” and last but not least, I’m good at it. The fact I like management sims anyway combined with the points I’ve highlighted make Championship Manager 2008 one of my all time favourite game and the reason I’ve spent over 300 hours in the game. Players do odd things now and then and occasionally you might be interested in a 0 year old player but I can happily live with that for now, hopefully the next Championship Manager (2012?) will take my fancy or Football Manager 2012. Until then though I will be firmly fixed to Championship Manager 2008, a gaming legend 🙂