Review by Auto2112

Reviewed: 08/11/03

The last update in the CM3 series...

A lot of people don't like updates, feeling that they're cash-in's while they have to wait for the 'true' sequels to come out. Me? I love updates, especially when they're for a game that I already loved. And I LOVED Championship Manager 2000/2001 and the plain ol' CM3 as well. So when the 2001/2002 update/sequel was announced for CM3, I was thrilled. I'd heard they weren't changing the interface, the match-play system, but merely tweaking what was already there and adding in even more interactive features for you to get to know your club, country, competition, etc, even more. Of course, Sports Interactive could easily have made a balls up of it by implementing silly additions and changing previous features a bit too much. But they didn't, and here's how the game looks:

Graphics: 9

Now, it seems a ridiculous score, but how can anyone feel justified in rating Championship Manager's graphics against, say for instance, Half-Life 1 + 2, Tomb Raider: AOD, or FIFA 2003? It's not a fair comparison so i'm rating the graphics against how they ease your playing of game. How they make it easy to navigate the countless menu's and options available for you. And it's a very fluid interface you're presented with. Everything's clear and concise and manouvering between the options is made simple with a click of the mouse on the right menu option. The background photos all look fantastic, as they always have with the CM series over the years so again, no problems there. It doesn't get a 10 because sometimes little things look a bit messy, especially in the tactics screen and sometimes it's a little confusing trying to figure out exactly what it is you're looking at, in regards to transfer lists and colour clashes with the background. Overall, though, the graphics are satisfactory with the game and do their job well in helping the player... play!

Gameplay: 8

It's the greatest soccer management game out there. Nothing comes close. The tired LMA Manager games on the PS1/2 don't compare and the Premier Manager series of the 90's showed it couldn't keep up with SI's fluid interfaces they've forever used in their CM series. Simply put, CM offers you everything, at once. You can check a players feelings about his squad status, the latest results in the Japanese J/League, or what a player's value is within a few clicks of the mouse button. It takes a while to learn where each option leads to because you find that by clicking one option, there's another 5 - 10 available! But once you've learnt the locations of everything, you'll wonder why this kind of system wasn't implemented in strategy / management games years before this.
There's everything from selecting a match-day team, to organising contracts for players, to finding out who'd be the best physio for your team for you to mess around with and trying to explain every gameplay feature in Championship Manager would take hundreds of reviews, not just mine. You can read through the other reviews on for CM 2001/02 but you're still only going to be presented with a very small percentage of what you can actually do in the game. It's HUGE. Embrace it. Hug it. Love it. And remember there IS an outside to your home, because once this game takes hold of you, you're gonna have to be brave to try and break away.

Sounds: 7

For the sounds on offer, they're extremely interactive. If you play the match day on a slow speed, the crowd noise will react to what's happening in the game. So listen as the crowd picks up when your winger gets to the corner, ready to swing it into the area hoping for your striker to get a header on in the hope of a goal. Listen as the header misses and the whole crowd groan in unison! It's an excellent feature, and really makes you feel like you're THERE at the match. Only problem is that you have to play on the slowest speeds, which can be very tiresome because you want to carry on with the game. Aside from this sound, you get the odd click when sifting through the menu's and doesn't add anything really. The sound while there is excellent, but you feel like so much more could have been added away from the match day sound system.

Lifespan: 10

If you're a soccer fanatic, you have EVERYTHING you need in CM 2001/02 to enjoy the sport to your heart's content while taking control of your favourite team. If you want to, you can go on playing for decades in-game, up to a point where your team of superstars are no longer recognisable from today's game. It's this kind of freedom that attracts you to such a game. It's got something for everyone. And if you get bored playing as one team, just open up another one and enjoy a new career! it doesn't get much better than this.

Buy / Rent / Stay Away?:

Buy it if you're a huge fan of soccer, or even if you're just a passing fan. I doubt you could rent this though as it's a PC game, and even if you could, you wouldn't have anywhere near enough time to warrant a serious dedicated go at it. However, if you've no interest in soccer at all, stay away. You'll hate the tirade of stats forced in your face and you'll hate not having a social life as well.

(On a sidenote: I typed this review after buying Cm4. Cm4 is bad. REALLY bad. Stay away from it and stick with CM2001/02, the last great CM.)

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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