Although CM 5 sounds like an annual refresh of the series, Eidos has made significant changes behind the scenes.
Although CM 5 sounds like an annual refresh of the series, Eidos has made significant changes behind the scenes. This is due to the company’s split with development partner, Sports Interactive. The latter owns the rights to the gaming code and data seen in CM 4, and has gone on to develop its own title, Football Manager 2005, which eerily mimics the last version of CM. Eidos’ part of the deal included keeping the CM name, but that’s pretty much it. It has taken this opportunity to build the game engine from the ground up, giving CM 5 a ‘va va voom’ feel.
CM 5 offers even more options, but thankfully a Training Wizard makes them a little more accessible. There are more team formations on the tactics board, and you can place players exactly where you want, rather than being restricted to certain slots. Naturally, players will perform better in their preferred positions, but there’s nothing to stop you from doing a bit of Ranieri-like tinkering to find a suitable formation. Instructing your team to feed passes and make runs has also been made easy, with colourcoded arrows differentiating between the two.
The 2D mode also boasts a handy panel displaying the essential match stats. The new tilted 2D pitch gives a welcome sense of depth, but it’s been poorly implemented: action continues when the ball is out of play; the blobs that represent players are a little too static; and more red cards seem to be dished out when you watch the game, rather than getting a text result.
However, all of these superb developments come at a cost. CM 5 is littered with bugs and errors: so much so that it almost doesn’t feel like an authentic CM game. Being instructed to patch up your boxed copy with the Enhancement Pack doesn’t inspire much confidence, especially as it’s a 28MB download. Inaccuracies abound at the core of the game: in the data. In previous CMs, team and player data was collected via a combination of scouts and ever-loyal fans, but Eidos has replaced what seemed to be a perfectly working system with a data-gathering firm. But rather than delivering thorough and accurate detail, many statistics are incorrect, if not missing altogether. Player histories are themselves history, in order to make the game faster, but this makes things that little bit harder: you’re left to rely on scouts or simply gut instinct when making transfers in the early stages. All is not lost, though, as these histories will build up as you get more seasons under your belt.
Other bugs in the gameplay also diminish the value of CM 5. Having played a cup match over two legs, our team drew 0-0 in both and still qualified for the next round without a sniff of extra-time or penalties. This just shouldn’t happen in a game of CM’s calibre.
Considering CM 5 has been built from scratch, Eidos has missed a few opportunities to make the game realistic, particularly when you look at the actions of the modern manager.
We also wanted to see the manager’s influence at set pieces, perhaps using the 2D view to place players specifically where you want them rather than setting instructions before the match starts. Football has witnessed an eventful season this year, and we hope to see this reflected next time round; maybe the tapping up of players, as well as managers being sent off.
So should you buy it? Well, many of the classic CM ingredients remain and you’ll probably be hooked once you’ve played a few games. However, it’s handicapped by errors, which only serve to annoy, and while patches should hold it together, the next version will decide whether the franchise gets a red card.
This Review appeared in the July, 2005 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine