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The clarion call from the assembled people came, ?The King is Dead, Long Live the King.?
Technically this is the truth for the Championship Manager series. Eidos and Sports Interactive (SI) are ending their partnership, and with that end Eidos will take the Championship Manager brand name and Sports Interactive will take the soccer game engines they have developed for the series. Eidos apparently plans on developing the series further with their own development studio, while SI will certainly be marketing a continuation of its work under a new name. The sum of this decision is that a venerable series of games is ending in the form that gamers have come to know over its long life.
Installation & Technical Issues
There were no problems with the installation of Championship Manager 03-04. It is worth exploring the custom installation option if not planning on using the sound features or the quick starts that are included. Leaving these two items out of the installation saves a significant amount of space on the hard-drive. There are patches available for Championship Manager 03-04. I had no problems with the 4.1.3 patch, but the 4.1.4 patch caused significant crash problems on my PC. These were related to updated drivers and I was able to resolve them.
Though the documentation is only the standard CD case size booklet, it is both complete and informative. It updates the changes made in Championship Manager 03-04 from its sister Championship Manager 4, and does a more thorough job of explaining certain aspects concerning both training and the players.
With no tutorial available the manual must cover everything a player needs to know; it accomplishes that.
Graphics & Sound
The core appeal of Championship Manager 03-04 is not sound or graphic based, and anyone expecting dazzling displays of those elements should be seeking a more arcade style game. SI continues to improve and refine the underlying elements of the 2-D engine, but the actual presentation has changed little since its introduction with Championship Manager 4.
Visual cues have been added on the 2-D view to help gamers notice which players have received yellow cards. Those playing with minor injuries are also now indicated on the player rating page.
The interface hasn?t seen any major revisions, but that is a good thing since it is very functional. It is easy to accomplish any of the tasks that are set forth for the manager to handle. Almost any kind of information can be clicked on to view additional details, but there remains the curious omission of the inability to go directly to your scout?s reports when they are mentioned in the news. The only way to reach these reports on players is by going to that specific area and viewing their suggested list of players from the area where they are currently assigned.
The most profitable place to spend time during a match is the 2-D presentation. There are three levels of detail for match play: Highlights, Extended Highlights and Complete. The quickest method is to view the Highlights, since the engine skips through dead zones where there isn?t anything exciting happening. The Extended Highlights is my preferred viewing choice, since it offers the most clues to allow the manager to fine-tune their strategies and substitutions to hopefully influence the result of the match. Complete shows every portion of the match as played out by the match engine. Besides viewing the match, there are options to check on the status of your players, view highlights from other matches currently playing and to take a look at the up to the minute stats from the match.
An improvement to Championship Manager 03-04 is that more information is provided to the gamer. This information is better presented and easier to view and understand. A perfect example of this is the training screen, where it shows the effects of selecting certain training elements by indicating the effect on overall training through a bar graph. When looking at individual player?s abilities, they have added an option to view how the training for the player is impacting all of their abilities. This helps remove some of the mystery and frustration that surrounded the in-depth training elements that were first offered in Championship Manager 4.