Championship Manager 03/04 – retro game review

3 Jan
My current Barcelona team on Championship Manager 03/04

My current Barcelona team on Championship Manager 03/04

Of all the hours wasted on all of the Championship Manager/Football manager installments, I look back most fondly on those spent dominating world football for over a decade with Barcelona.

And winning the Premiership with Reading. And taking Boston United into the Championship (before being sacked for finishing in the bottom half…)

All on Championship Manager 03/04.

For me, this was the golden age of football management sims. Everything before was just not quite realistic or detailed enough. Everything afterwards was just too realistic or detailed.

The last game of this type that I bought was Football Manager 2009. Far too detailed, far too many options and far too much to do. It would take a serious amount of hours just to finish a season. I still enjoyed it, but it was too much.

Championship Manager 03/04So the arrival of this in the post for the princely sum of £1.99 made me very happy indeed.

But when I booted the game up and began to try and play it, I was absolutely gutted.

It would seem that I’d actually played my original version of the game (which I’d given away so that I could actually concentrate on my dissertation) on the very same laptop I now own – this must have been a few years after the game came out.

And worse, I’d messed around with the editor to try and cheat a bit – adding players like David Beckham to Reading and so on.

So whenever I started a new game, it was doomed to be a cheat. I’d ruined the game for myself. All I could do was boot up the one save game that remained available from before, titled ‘barcelona’

Well I can tell you now that I’m now a further four years ahead of where I had been all those years ago when I’d started playing ‘barcelona’ and consider that £1.99 to very well spent indeed.

I picked up the game immediately, remembered all of the old players I’d amassed and am just as hopelessly addicted as I was back then. It doesn’t matter that the editor is out-of-date. I don’t mind that I’ll never get to give Messi a run-out in my Barcelona team. It’s more fun to make superstars out of total unheardofs – players that will never exist in fact.

If I put in a CM session then I can actually complete a good portion of the season, even though I play as two managers (Barcelona and, currently, Fulham) In Football Manager 2009 I could play for a few hours and only play a handful of games.

Sure it’s now 2019 in my game and Wayne Rooney is about to retire – one of the few ‘real’ players left as he was 16 when the game started. Sure about half of the clubs in Spain have gone bankrupt and the chances of selling a player are remote. And sure, winning the league fourteen years in a row does suggest that the challenge has gone a little.

But I still absolutely love it.

The only negative I can really pull this game up on is the saving style. I can’t remember if it used to do this, but now when it auto saves every month it creates a new file. Which doesn’t half use a lot of disk space – it completely filled my laptop’s allocation before I realised what was happening.

But that is an option you can turn off, so it’s hard to mark it down.

In short, I absolutely love this game and I would recommend it to anyone over the current versions of the popular football management sim anyday. The only reason not to is that it is out-of-date.

But then the ability to see into the future is quite useful in football management. Word to the wise – a couple of kids called Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo get quite good.


4 Responses to “Championship Manager 03/04 – retro game review”

  1. Stefan September 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Your review is spot on.
    The 03/04 version was the last CM to effectively steal all my time.
    I could have written the same as you – except “Of all the hours wasted….” – I would have written months 🙂

    As for the out-of-date question this becomes less an argument as time goes by. After 1-2-3 years it can be annoying, but the feeling I had when I found the game in my closet over the summer, was one of pure nostalgie.

    I continued the game this week, taking Shrewsbury to the Champions League title in 2013 with known profiles like Stewart Downing, Guïza and Milan Baros.

    Now I can’t stop thinking about the transfers I want to get done for the coming seaon – this game is a serious threat to social life 🙂

  2. Jake January 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Hehe..I took Boston to the Premier League and then i finished 6th the first season, good times.

  3. Agopcsa Botond January 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Haha, i just stumbled upon your blog when googleing “Do Coaches improve”. Very nice read, I still play this game after 9 years from it’s birth. Truly a wonderful game, time flies by at work when I play it xD
    If you ever wanna chat, trade advice, tips and tricks, tactics send me a mail, it would be great if i could talk to a fellow CMer myself 🙂

  4. tupac November 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    love this game, but I love CM 3 better. I used a data editor to tweak stuff, like renaming stadiums, boards, staffs, changing colors .. etc. And put in C Ronaldo, Messi and tweaked Ronaldinho’s stats as youngsters with excellent potential. ❤ this game !

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