Championship Manager, the most exciting spreadsheet in the world. Or so it would appear, certainly if sales figures are to be believed. By that standard playing with virtual Barbies is the height of computer entertainment, but as usual, I digress. Before Champ Man 4 gets released later this year, Eidos have unloaded Championship Manager Quiz. No doubt to improve the public's perception of gaming and nothing to do with the marketing dream of combining the phenomenally successful CM series with the obvious appeal of answering questions on a monitor, as so pervasively demonstrated by Who Wants To Waste Time and The Weakest Excuse. The suits at Eidos are no doubt waiting for this title to claw in the dough. While it's unlikely that the targeted purchasers - the infirm, weak-minded, grannies and David Beckham - are unlikely to be reading these fine pages I hope that I might be able to prevent one or two of you wasting money better spent on more rewarding gaming experiences. Such as a deck of cards.
Breathing in the whiff of shareware simplicity that is the menu screen the player is presented with a wealth of quizzing options. Or a total of five game modes to be precise. There are two each for the single- and two-player selections, with the Exhibition game mode being common to both. The solitary football genius can opt to try out the Keepie-Up mode while those blessed with a friend who is also into their footie can choose to duke it out in a Penalty Shoot-Out. The final game category is the Pub Quiz, perhaps the most redundant of all the choices on offer and no doubt tacked on a the end of the development cycle to flesh out the menu screen. This mode involves a sequence of questions with four possible answers being displayed on the screen. I gather the intention is for a quiz master to read out each question to a mass of eager friends before clicking on the fantastically designed 'next question' button until everyone is bored enough and with a click of the 'answers' button the answers will make themselves known. Needless to say the three people in the room when I looked at this got no further then the third question before it was decided that searching out a member from the local Assemblies of God church and signing up to their pseudo cult would be a more entertaining and rewarding way to spend any time at all. Unable to resist the temptation to have my eyes treated once again to the splendor of the menu screen, I thought it time to try out the single player games, not wanting to scare away my potential opponents for the two-player games so soon after the thrill of the pub-quiz. Keepie-Up sounded like a hoot, so I plunged into it with the enthusiasm of a pissed-up Sunday leaguer going through a messy divorce. Answer the question right, you get another one, answer it wrong, you don't. Can you keep it up and beat the high score table? Can you be arsed? I surely couldn't, so decided now was the time to tackle the Exhibition match full on. I could almost hear the roar of the crowd and feel the reverberation of the stadium as I excitedly selected my team. Either that or my subwoofer had a lead loose.
Anyway, you can pick a team from both the English and Scottish Premierships as well as any team from the lower English divisions. Picking my home team of Aberdeen (quality of team setting the difficulty of the questions), I got into the match proper. The main playing screen does a good job of replicating the formation selection screen of many action football games - you know, the fun ones. Starting with the kick off you can 'pass' the ball to someone in your next line of players, with each player having a topic displayed beneath him. A pass to a winger presented me with my first question, which funnily enough was on an Aberdeen player, and which even more amazingly, I managed to answer correctly. Next up was a choice of one of my two strikers, so I put a through ball onto the World Cup question, and again got it right. On this occasion my correct answer 'rewarded' me with Factual Information relating to the poser I'd just answered, presenting me with a piece of football trivia I did my best to rapidly forget. Smashing stuff. Deciding to go all tactical I lobbed a ball to the far side of the pitch, choosing a question on managers. By the power of Seaman, I'd gotten another right! Now I was feverish with just the goalie and a question on transfers standing between me and putting Motherwell 1-0 down. When you loose possession of the ball pretty much the same thing happens as before, except you don't get to choose the questions and must get the answer right to stop your opponents charge. Which I managed to do, albeit only after the Dons had lost two goals. I had quickly used up my three lifelines; the 1-2 which gives you a second chance to get the right answer, a Hit'n'hope, which is another name for 50/50 and my sub, which replaces the question with a newer and equally obtuse one. After a quick suck on a half-time smoke I sprinted back onto the pitch managing to forward the ball to my front line and keep it in the box, although the amazing scarcity of my knowledge on football kept the ball from ever reaching the back of the net. Eventually I lost control, Motherwell threaded the ball into my goal once more and I quit.
There's a stats screen at the end of the match which gives you a contrived run down of your efforts, and a manger rating, which if you were so inclined could act as some incentive to play your way through the game's 11,000 questions. Maybe it was the glum look on my face or the volume of my sighing but I still couldn't persuade anyone to take me on in a game. Bypassing the two-player exhibition, whose possibilities I felt I'd had enough exposure to I had a sniff at the penalty shoot-out. Five questions each, get it right get a goal. Ever seen a penalty shoot-out? Then you know what the rules are. If you haven't then I doubt you've even made it this far down the page, and rightly so.
The game is a poor excuse for entertainment, poorly made. While there are no glaring faults in the way the game has been built, although the way the right mouse button takes you to a menu screen can get in the way of the intense matches. There is also a complete lack of inspiration, joy, or even the option to change the resolution above Playstation quality evident throughout the title. Download it if you must have anything with Championship Manager.
People who downloaded Championship Manager Quiz have also downloaded:
Championship Manager 97/98, Championship Manager: Season 00/01, Championship Manager 4, Championship Manager: Season 99/00, Championship Manager: Season 03/04, Championship Manager: Season 01/02, Championship Manager '93 w/ 1994 data disk, F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2001, The
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