I’ve never really liked soccer. Unfortunately, here in the UK, it’s a mainstay of our society — when two men meet for the first time, a usual topic of small talk would be something along the lines of ‘So, which team do you support?’ Usually I grit my teeth and mutter something popular: ‘Oh, Chelsea for sure. That Abramovich did some great things. Anyway, how about that swimming competition the other day?’
See, for me, sports are always best when they rely solely on an individual. You get to see the pain, the torment, the years-of-training, all build up to this one final event and, if they succeed, it’s a happiness that is unparalleled. Soccer is a team game — if you mess up, who cares? You’ve got ten other people to look after you.
Which is why I was unsure about reviewing Championship Manager 70s Legends for the iPhone. Its connection to soccer made it an unhappy prospect, and I went in with low expectations, praying I would complete it quickly, and move on with my life.
But then, as I played the game, I realized something — something that made me re-evaluate my outlook on the sport. As you take control of the manager, you really are being that individual sportsman. You are the guy that works hard and has to make the tough decisions. You are the guy whom, if you mess up, your whole team will lose. Without you, your team is nothing.
Starting Championship Manager 70s Legends is an incredibly daunting prospect. Clearly identifying its PC gaming heritage, it’s a game filled with menus, stats and far, far too many options. If you’re unfamiliar with the game’s setup, it can make you think: ‘Oh man, what on Earth do I do now?’
Randomly pointing at various options and hoping for the best, I pushed through the confusion and found myself taking control of Leeds, a team that I didn’t know much about. Again, the list of options was incredibly daunting. Who do I choose to make up my team? How do I train them? In which position should I have them play? I just wanted to get into a match and watch my team play, how on Earth was I supposed to know the rest of this stuff?
But again, it’s something that harkens back to the series’ PC roots. Whether or not games are ‘getting easier’ is not for me to say, but it’s undeniable that, once upon a time, PC games demanded a lot more trial-and-error on the part of the player. Setting my attackers to train in a forceful manner, my midfield in a passing-based manner, and my defenders to train in a manner that would have made a fisherman proud, I finally reached my first proper match.
Now, a little bit of context: I was playing Championship Manager 70s Legends in my local library. In a place where one can appreciate true peace-and-quiet, it was a perfect environment to play the game. After all, iPhones are supposed to be taken with you, wherever you go -- it is a mobile phone, after all -- and so when I finally had a few minutes to myself, I thought I'd take on Leeds' first match.
As soon as the game started, I couldn’t help but squeal with joy as my team passed effectively, and scored their first ever goal under my command. 1-0. Hurrah, I cried! My first match, and I’m winning! This game is great! Five out of Five! Play resumed following my striker’s outstanding goal, and I became momentarily distracted by a pretty girl walking past.
I looked back at the screen. 1-1. What is this?! How did they score? Why? What on Earth is going on?! Half-time came, and I was invited to rearrange my team. I didn’t know what to do — as already mentioned, the game’s stats are incredibly confusing, and I was still reeling from having conceded a goal. I changed the team’s play style to ‘aggressive’, and started the second half.
Almost immediately, we lost another goal. 1-2. I just didn’t understand what I was doing wrong — why was the game punishing me for taking control of what was clearly the worst team in the league? Eventually, after many failed shots at goal, we lost the game. I was kicked back to the training menu, and I began to contemplate my next moves.
You see, Championship Manager 1970s Legends is not a perfect game. As a game designed for a portable device, it’s almost entirely terrible. With far too many menus and stats to keep track of, it requires thought, patience, and can’t be played in anything like the same manner as Angry Birds. But it is addictive. Even if, like me, you have no knowledge of 1970’s soccer players, you begin to form an attachment nonetheless. I soon realized that my top striker was a guy named Peter Lorimer, and so I began to put him in every game I played, and he always came out on top. Having now researched him on the internet, it’s clear that he was was a pretty darned good soccer player. That's another good thing about Legends, it doesn't require knowledge to play it, but it does encourage further research. To be quite honest however, I don’t care about the real Peter Lorimer. All I know is, he’s the best player on my team, and he’s going to win me the Championship, 70s style.
Should you buy Championship Manager 70s Legends? Well, that depends. If you’re a soccer fan, and you’re prepared to face the initial steep learning curve, undoubtedly. It’s a great management title, filled with interesting trivia about the era, and provides a worthwhile challenge. If, like me, you’ve never enjoyed soccer… well, then it depends on your personality. If you’re easily frustrated by games that don’t hold your hand, then stay well clear. Although Legends offers an ‘Auto’ mode for most options, it’s still one that requires time, dedication and patience, and should be avoided by those without all three. If, like me, you get easily addicted and enjoy forming emotional attachments with video game characters… buy it. Just be prepared to give it a little time.
Championship Manager 70’s Legends is available now for all iOS compatible devices. For the purpose of this review, the game was played on an iPhone 3GS.