Championship Manager 2008

For many 15-16-year-olds during the summer of 1994, numerous hours of what was meant to be hard GCSE revision time was spent on, shall we say, less 'important' pursuits'.

Unfortunately, we're not talking about spending some time with the buxom blonde you always had a crush on ever since starting secondary school. No, we're on about the infinitely more important Championship Manager '94, with which the concept of the football management genre hit new heights.

Of course in the 13 years since, the Championship Manager franchise has gone on to become the king in its field, although recent years have seen Sega's Football Manager rival brand swinging the balance of favour away from Eidos' favourite (not entirely surprising given that the team behind FM used to be responsible for CM).

But those are battles being fought mostly on consoles and PC. Here, Championship Manager continues in its quest as the best in the land on mobile, in a sector that boasts the pretty LMA Manager and the hugely impressive Real Football: Manager Edition. With this in mind, has it still got the talent to stay top of the league?

Resoundingly, yes.

There wasn't an awful lot wrong with CM 2007 (released earlier this year), and with this 2008 edition, Eidos has gone down the same route of giving the depth precedence over unnecessary visuals.

The elaborate stadium image seen during the match highlights has been replaced with a top-down view of the pitch showing how strong your team is performing in each area of the field, while the commentary plays out at the top of the screen.

But the presentation in CM 2008 in terms of the menus has been spruced up, with these now scrolling around a football along with some tasteful colours and images in the background. There are nicely drawn icons in the handy short cut menu, too, which is from where you can delve quickly into your training methods, league table, team tactics or back to 'home'.

Control in the tactics and team selection screens takes some getting used to, but once you've got the hang of it you'll see it for the epitome of one-button simplicity that it is.

Again, as with the previous version, the potentially cumbersome nature of positioning your players into a custom-made formation is removed by offering a wide range of formations for you to choose from, which cover just about all permutations you can think of. So you get to select from a variety of presets such as, say, Liverpool '78 or AC Milan '94, to get your team playing in a certain way.

Immediately, we couldn't help but wonder how much fun it'd be to have greater control over inventing your own formation in true Championship Manager style. Realistically, however, we understand and appreciate the developer's cleverness in taking into account the limitations of the mobile medium.

Meanwhile, the novel media management part of the game – where you have to answer the questions from reporters – has been tweaked with better graphics but, although fun, the questions do get repetitive once you have been playing for over a season. You can turn this feature off, but the press conferences serve a fairly large role in maintaining your reputation amongst the board, fans and media.

Assuming you spent your time with the buxom blonde rather than in front of your computer all those years ago and she's managed to keep your interest since, here's the lowdown on the Championship Manager experience: You begin the game with a set transfer budget and it's up to you whether you go for the mega-bucks star (whilst you can pick up stars like Eto'o and Ronaldinho, it'll cost you everything you've got and inflate your wage bill) or make the money last longer and strengthen a number of positions with cheaper players.

You sell players to bolster your cash levels and you can also ask the board to release extra transfer funds. You have the option to scour the foreign and domestic markets, of course – indeed, back home there's some bargain youngsters for you to plunder.

Of course, there's more to CM 2008 than just buying and selling players. Every major element of the management game is included, so expect anything from scout reports on players to incidents that require you to discipline or praise a player, which the media and board then comment on, either favourably or negatively.

One of the game's best features, however, is the ability to build a team that's a genuine match for anyone (although you can really only do it as one of the top four teams). It takes about a season or two to reach that level, not to mention some shrewd decision making, but it's worth the wait when everything clicks together.

And you certainly won't mind the wait because CM 2008 is a stunningly addictive and well put together mobile-sized slice of football management pie. One we implore you to take a big bite out of as soon as you're able.

Championship Manager 2008

Harks back to the original Championship Managers on the Amiga and PC, and maintains much of that simplicity and relentless addiction. As immersive an experience as you can get on today's mobiles