What you get per team branded version is a load of cool club specific content. In the case of the Newcastle the game opens with a passion provoking video cut seen of the fans tramping into the ground on a Saturday, branded menus, kits, faces and stadiums are all looking perfectly Toon Army. You also get full squad profiles, videos of famous goals etc. It is great to see that the licenses haven't just been used as a marketing device and the benefit of the license has been fully exhausted.
You can play as your favorite team in simulations of a full season; knock out competitions or exhibition matches. You can also set up any of the above with any other team featured in the game. So you are not limited to playing as Newcastle all the time.
Game play is the be all and end all with football titles. If it doesn't feel like football then what is the point? If the control system isn't instinctive then what is the point? In the case of Club Football 2005 I am very impressed with the general control, game-flow, camera work, ball control and just about every other element of the match play. You find yourself having ultimate control over your pre-match selections, man to man marking, player focus etc. I have grown up playing Konami's ISS engine and found the Codemaster's control system perfectly comparative and simple.
Graphically there is a lot of good in this game and a lot of time has been spent getting the detail right. The Stadiums look brilliant and almost every major European stadium has been lovingly re-created. The players really do look like their real life counter-parts with incredible details and with there being a branded version for all the major clubs this player architecture is at a high standard right across the continent. The crowd is also one of the best crowds in a football game to date – with some fans even sporting club shirts. The only thing that lets the game down on the graphics side of things is some of the player animations are not that slick. With EA, Konami and all the others having many more years to perfect this element it does feel like Codemasters are still playing catch up in this department. Although anyone who has ever played Colin McRae will have faith that the guys at Codemasters have the ability to perfect this in time.
Sound in the game is all done well – atmosphere at the ground is very realistic and player & club chants such as “ Ferguson 's barmy army” break out at the correct moments. The commentary has come on a lot since last years game but still doesn't really get any better than annoying – much to be done in this department. Ball sounds are good and the menus have been peppered with indie hits of the day. The only complaint I have here is sometimes incidental music is by far the best choice for menus. I love Franz Ferdinand and their hit single “Take me out” but to hear it in-between every single game soon becomes its own type of torture.
As you can probably tell I am a fan of this game, I believe over the next few years this title could truly contend the major titles for a larger part of the market. There is work to be done before this will happen but I have lots of faith in the software house and am sure they will deliver. From being no more than an also-ran last year I think Club Football 2005 will make the likes of Konami and EA up their game or loose audience to this rising pretender.
8 out of 10