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Chelsea Club Football Xbox

Published by Codemasters
Developed by Codemasters
Released: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Codemasters have never entered a genre light-heartedly but even they have outdone themselves on this occasion. Not being content with simply releasing a football game, they have released a stupendous 17 different versions which are each dedicated to a particular club. Such a project eclipses anything that I can remember and it must have proved a logistical nightmare to pull the whole thing together. So if you are a fan of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Celtic, Chelsea, Leeds United, Liverpool, Man Utd, Rangers, Borussia Dortmund, Hamburger SV, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Internazionale or Juventus then you're in luck because Codemasters have a version for you. This review looks at the Chelsea version but I would imagine the same goes for any of the different versions on offer.

Chelsea Club Football gives you the chance to take part in a domestic season, compete in a super league with Europe's finest or take part in a quick start match where your opponents are chosen for you. The domestic season is where most of you will head for and you'll be pleased to know that you can actually join the squad yourself if you want. There is an option to create a likeness of yourself and play alongside the likes of Crespo, Lampard, Duff or Cole however Makelele isn't in the Chelsea team, which is odd as I thought he signed before Crespo. You can opt to play a full season or half-season, choose the game length which ranges from 5-20 minutes and choose your difficulty level with a choice of easy, normal and hard. The super league sees you competing in competitions where Europe's finest are split into two groups of six, in order to create a kind of champions league format.

In the domestic season mode and super league mode you can only play as Chelsea and with the quick start mode you can either play as or against Chelsea. But what if you're sick to the teeth of seeing Chelsea (unlikely I know if you're a fan)? Well for those moments Codemasters have included the custom mode where you can play as a first division, Scottish or other European team and set up tournaments and exhibition matches. I decided to set up a virtual Division 1 but you can do what you like in custom mode. You can even create your own team, which will please a lot of people out there.

With Chelsea Club Football being aimed solely at Chelsea fans you'll also find player profiles and memorabilia. The memorabilia features photos of all the great Chelsea moments in recent history. I was a bit disappointed to see that it didn't cover the full history of the club but I suppose this would have been an enormous undertaking to research for all 17 versions. It's also a shame that you can't pick a classic team and play with a team that includes all the Chelsea greats and see what Vialli would have been like playing alongside David Speedie. Still the presentation is impressive and what's on offer will certainly please Chelsea fans.

Sadly the action on the pitch isn't as impressive as the presentation, as the gameplay has a few flaws and if you've experienced the Pro Evolution Soccer series, what's on offer here will seem inadequate. The biggest problem by far is the goalkeepers who must have ESP as they seem to save every shot you can throw at them. Goals can be scored, but it's far too hard and very unrealistic. Try rounding the keeper with the ball, it seems impossible to do. The AI opponents seem to have no problem with waltzing into your box and planting the ball in the net though, which is annoying. The referee seems fairly biased too and books your players for the slightest contact whilst the AI opponents can push your players over for fun and not get booked. The game appears to hold on to your button presses for far too long as well. If you are challenging for the ball by pressing the 'A' button to make a normal tackle and the ball breaks free you'll find that when your player gets to the ball he will make a short pass and you'll lose possession which can be annoying. It would have been nice to have seen a chipped through ball too but sadly you can't do that.

On the flipside though there are some good aspects of the gameplay that are actually quite impressive. It's good to see that the AI (for normal and hard difficulty levels) puts up a good challenge and actually defends pretty impressively. The fact that you can put spin on the ball in dead ball situations such as corners and free kicks is most welcome and you can noticeably see the difference it makes. On the squad screen you can elect to go with the managers choice for squad selection should you be unsure of who to pick because let's face it there is plenty of choice these days at Chelsea. You can also select what tactics to employ during a game by pressing the white button and moving the directional pad. Tactics such as playing deep, wing play or counter attack are available to you and you can instantly see the difference it makes.

Graphically Chelsea Club Football looks good but there are times when things look a little blurred. At the beginning of the game when the camera focuses on the ground the stadia looks blurred and out of focus and so do the crowds for that matter. I can only imagine that the Xbox versions are a port from the PlayStation 2 because the game doesn't look like it was developed especially for the Xbox. There are nine camera angles in all so there is sure to one you are comfortable with. The player animations look a little wooden at times too, which is disappointing. The player likenesses aren't too bad at all, especially those players who play for teams who have their own version of Club Football such as the Liverpool or Arsenal players. However if you opt to play with a Division 1 team in the custom mode don't expect them to look like their real life counterparts.

As you would expect there aren't any problems with Chelsea Club Football for deaf gamers. The match commentary isn't subtitled but that doesn't affect the gameplay in any way. All of the other information is provided in text so you won't miss out on any of the games features.

It's plainly obvious that the Club Football series has been aimed squarely at the fans of the clubs for which a version exists. If you are not a fan of either of the 17 clubs that are listed in the opening paragraph then you're not going to appreciate the specialisation that these games have. The gameplay itself isn't really good enough to warrant a purchase as it has a few flaws that might be hard to live with. However if you are a fan of one of the 17 clubs then you'll overlook the few gameplay flaws and treat the whole package as a nice piece of merchandise for your team.

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
As a piece of merchandise Chelsea fans will warm to Chelsea Club Football but there is plenty of room for improvement with the gameplay.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems for deaf gamers.