What do you look for in a football game?
If you're like me, it doesn't necessarily have to be an accurate simulation of the beautiful game. It only needs to capture the spirit, offering glimpses of the skill, physicality, and emergent possibilities that the sport can create.
Footy games scratch a very particular itch, so each game needs to offer a reliable and pretty much instant dose of soccer satisfaction.
Championship Manager: All-Stars meets some of these criteria some of the time. And that's not nearly enough.Naive defending
As should be evident from the title, this is a footy management game rather than an action game.
But don't come here expecting Football Manager Classic 2015 (or even Football Manager Handheld 2015) levels of depth. This is an extremely light experience with a pronounced free-to-play core.
You start with a custom team, and your opening squad of real life players is entirely randomised except for a single star player, which is who you must essentially build your team around.
It's possible to purchase additional players through an eBay-like auctioning system, though the money you have left to you and the limited spread of players available at any one time limits the potential for picking up a bargain (and hence much of the fun).
You can buy players outside of this format, but only with a limited special transfer currency in addition to in-game cash.Headed for the drop
When you get into your opening run of games, the tactics are similarly constricted. You're limited to giving your team basic instructions from a limited selection of criteria.
Even the 'Advanced' tactics simply allow you to determine things like whether you want to attack down the wings or through the middle, or whether you want to press low, medium, or high. Digital Mourinhos need not apply.
Which leaves us with Championship Manager: All-Stars's one bright feature - the fact that most of your matches take place against fellow players.
Except, the aforementioned limited tactics and the game's laborious real-time nature means that you'll be waiting around for ages for what amount to dull, uninvolving matches, filling out time with limited matches against AI opposition.
I'm sure that there's a breed of casual footy fans out there who'll love Championship Manager: All-Stars's heavily funnelled, semi-automated brand of football management.
For those who want a little more heart, soul, and brains from their footy games, this won't be the game you're looking for.