There’s only one footy management game… one footy management game… one footy management game… there’s only one footy management game. At least, there is to most PC sheepskin coat and cigar aficionados, and that’s Eidos’ classic Championship Manager 3 (due for a year 2001 re-make very shortly).
So how does this latest offering from EA Sports shape up to the King? The most striking difference between the two games is that where CM3 plays its matches out in text, Football Manager 2001 brings a visual edge to match day with fully 3D graphics. The stadiums of each team are even correctly represented: if you build another stand or floodlight you’ll see it during the match.
This certainly adds an edge to the proceedings, but there are problems with the graphical representation, mainly in the realism of the game. Too many goals are conceded by keepers who paw pathetically at the ball and then let it dribble into the net, and sometimes downright stupid things happen.
When your star forward inexplicably decides to dribble out to the touchline when he had a clear break on for the penalty box, the wailing and gnashing of teeth can be heard from Highbury to Old Trafford. Still, despite these moments of frustration which tear the veil of realism slightly, the matches are nicely depicted, and the process makes you feel more like a real manager watching from the dugout.
Football Manager 2001 does cover a lot of bases on the management options front too. You can hire and fire staff, from the stadium manager to chief scout, and you can develop your stadium and build a new training ground. You also have to take care of the players’ training regimes, and the youth team as well. There’s certainly plenty to get stuck into from a detail point of view.
It’s quite interesting how the players are rated too. You can’t view their exact skill statistics until they are in your team, so when scouting players you only get a vague idea of what their abilities are like. However, if you send a scout to look at them for a week he can fill you in on their stats. It’s a clever little system, and fairly realistic.
There are plenty of positive facets to Football Manager 2001 and the match visuals are nicely implemented. Despite the attraction of the graphics and the good depth the game offers, it still comes across as not quite as ‘real’ an experience as CM3.
Company: Electronic Arts