published Wednesday, Nov 17th
As with any Championship Manager game, it’s the core gameplay that has made the series so engrossing. Thankfully Championship Manager 2011, which is an iOS exclusive this year, is no different – capturing the managerial process of the beautiful game perfectly, albeit with a few problems.
As ever players start the game as a newly hired manager, expected to meet or surpass a clubs expectations. Players must consider the implications of their decisions both on and off the pitch. Finances, player’s happiness levels and the relationship with the media must all be considered alongside the ever-important winning of matches.
Both before and during matches’ players can edit the standard options including squad, formation and set piece takers. Fortunately though the developers have seen it fit to simplify certain options for this portable version. For example, in previous games players could customize their desired playing style through a lengthy list of options. However, on the iPhone and iPod Touch players can simply select a playing style at a touch. Want to play football like the Man United of 1968 or counter attack like the Nottingham Forest of 1979? Then simply select that option. It’s a simplification that although doesn’t offer the same level of personlisation seen in the PC game, is a good fit for a mobile experience.
The matches themselves work like all Championship Mangers titles that preceded it; players are treated to text-based commentary, accompanied by the simple bird’s eye view showing goals and highlights. Despite being on a handheld device the matches flow well and are a feature that developers, Beautiful Game Studios, have got absolutely spot on.
Off-the-pitch managers must consider their many choices; a key example is found in the press conference feature.Each question asked garners a reaction from the press, the clubs fans and the board. Obviously it’s tricky to please all three, so players have to consider their answers carefully. Fall on the wrong side of one and the manager may find themselves in for a torrid time.
As you would expect games like Championship Manager tend to be loaded with a large amount of information. However, the issue with negotiating this vast amount of data, be it finding teams, players, formations, or matches, is that just finding it can be an annoyance. Scattered across multiple windows and menu systems, the reams of data on display can be overwhelming – even on a PC. So imagine playing the same title, with a similar mass of information on a tiny portable screen that’s 1/10th the size.
Truth be told this iOS iteration of Championship Manager is frustrating to navigate due to the iPhone’s touch screen. The home screen consists of eight options, which in turn lead onto numerous choices – after drilling down through this information it’s possible to navigate through a further five or six options, only to find that the information you wanted isn’t there. To remedy this information overload Beautiful Games Studios have included a quick-menu. For the most part this works, providing shortcuts to the most used features. However, due to the quick-menu’s diminutive size in comparison to other options, it seems like something of an after thought. The choice to customise menus with your most used stats is something that’s distinctly missing.
Transfers are another option that has fallen foul of the navigation issue. The transfers section covers the majority of options for signing a player, however managers must go through numerous filters before any players can be scouted. This makes the whole process incredibly slow and if it wasn’t for the prospect of that key signing, it’s almost tempting to avoid.
Football is a game of two halves and Championship Manager 2011 is no different. On the one side it does a lot well on a portable device. Scaling this data-intensive experience to a small display was no easy feat, with the text-based updates and match graphics being a prime example of how such a game can translate to a device which is limited in size. However, despite the simple touch input, there is just far too many screens to navigate through, with too much information to deal with.
The basics are here, but the iOS version of Championship Manager 2011 is one that could do with simplification. However, it’s clear that the Championship Manager series is one that is not easily simplified.