Club Football 2005
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-8
Words By:

For everyone who has tried and failed, I say: Don't try. Let's face it, Club Football 2005 is a football game, and it's released shortly after two monster football releases of the year, PES4 and Fifa 2005 it's got to pull off some kind of miracle to even register on the radar of a person that is looking to buy a football game at this time of year. But Christmas is the time for miracles, and I suspect that CF2005 will end up in a lot of stockings this year thanks to it's club branding approach. You see, you can buy your copy of CF2005 branded with the logo and players of one of a number of clubs in England, Scotland and Europe, and then the game will feature the club branding throughout, as well as seeing you try and guide that team (and you can choose no other) to domestic or European (not officially licensed competitions mind) honours. My review copy was the Manchester United version, as I was informed that unfortunately there is no Crystal Palace version, despite my club's recent ascension to the Premiership. I just can't understand why they wouldn't want to make a version for a club obviously destined for European glory next year ;-)

But anyway, looking back on Jensen's review from last year's version, I see that his first game was a 0 0 draw with Liverpool, while playing as Manchester United, with him being dismayed that he was unable to score despite 27 shots on goal. Well, I can say that there was no problem with scoring this time around, as my first game, Man U vs. Liverpool, ended in a 6 3 win for Man U, with two players sent off. Subsequent games heralded slightly less ridiculous score lines and numbers of bookings and sendings-off, but games were rarely low scoring affairs and yes, I was on the default settings - an inauspicious start.

The control set up seems to almost be lifted from PES, definitely not a bad thing, although the most advanced functions, such as manual pass, are not included in CF2005. Thankfully the control set up seems to be good enough that button presses being remembered seems to be a rarity, and players respond nice and quickly, meaning that those of us that get annoyed with PES players taking too long to get a shot off, or Fifa players taking too long to make a short pass behind them will be pleased. However, what the players do on the field, and what you want them to do can sometimes be quite different the slide tackle is almost unusable, as it is difficult to actually tackle anyone with, and will regularly result in the opposition player being fouled. Coupled with the slightly overzealous referee, it means that any slide tackle on the edge of the area has a high possibility of resulting in a red card.

However, the game does look decent. It doesn't have quite the same level of detail as Fifa up close, and the players are considerably less animated than in PES4, but it's not a bad looker by any criteria. The menus are all very clearly laid out too.

Soundwise, like Fifa, there is some proper chart type indie music in there, from the likes of Franz Ferdinand, and during the game you get the usual crowd noise, as well as some chants recorded from the appropriate club. The chants can get a bit repetitive, although I think Man U fans only have one song, and they rarely sing that anyway (they might drop their prawn sandwiches), so it's probably quite realistic in that sense. Actually, the presentation goes further than the slick menus each version of the game has a 'shop' where you can buy goal clips, photos, and club history using points earned in the game. Also, one of the play options is the ability to try and recreate famous scenarios from the club's history, such as Man U's 1999 European Cup final comeback. I was a little dismayed to see that the game just puts the current teams in the given scenario, rather than give you the team of the time. Sloppy.

Going back to an earlier point, the control of players is quite rapid. But, this comes at a price the animation of players can often look a bit unnatural players hit balls with little to no 'backlift' of their foot, and don't push balls out in front of them when they want to hit harder shots. Keepers are well animated, but they are capable of stopping any kind of shot as long as they are facing the shooting player correctly it's kind of crazy that you can hit a shot from 8 yards out and the keeper will pick it off no matter how well you've placed it. Well, I say 'placed' it, but the reality is that you can't choose to hit a drive along the floor or through the air in CF2005 you just set the shot power, and the harder you hit it, generally the higher it will go, meaning that low shots are feeble. But it doesn't often matter defences are static enough that you can waltz into the area and cut back the ball to another attacker with an open sight of goal with an almost shameful ease.

At the end of the day, CF2005 never going to stand a chance against the 'big guns' of PES and Fifa a football game is a football game, and while you can put more competitions/licenses in it, there's not a lot that you can do to differentiate a particular game from the rest except produce a better simulation of the beautiful game. While the Club Football series may one day be able to achieve this, Konami and EA have several years head start, and although CF2005 plays a solid game, it fails to excel in any area.

Best Bits

- Solid game of football.
- Good pace for the game.
- Reliving your club's great matches yourself.
Worst Bits

- Does not stand out in any area.
- Scenario games give you the current team rather than the historically correct one.

by: Peter Potatohead

Copyright © Gamecell 2004