Manchester United Club Football 2005, has some very well implemented features, unfortunately gameplay isn’t one of them. I tried my best to judge the game solely on its football merits, and I’ll try my best to avoid the obvious parallel between the bad gameplay and the team itself. Even setting aside my dislike of Manchester United, the game just doesn’t even compete with today’s football games. No matter how much you may love Manchester United, I can’t really recommend this game. Club Football 2005 tries hard to compete with games like FIFA and Winning Eleven but doesn’t come close to their level.
Club Football 2005 does have a reasonable amount of features with one unique draw. The unique feature being the player creator. At the beginning you are able to create a player that is recruited by Manchester. He’ll have pretty low stats to begin with and the idea is to gain experience throughout the season. The player creation system allows you to customize everything from age, which oddly has no real limits, to hair color. I’m positive that the first thing most people will do is create their David Beckham imitation, who rightly doesn’t appear on the teams roster. Not wanting to make Manchester any worse, I created a totally unique player. Unfortunately, the limits on your stats make the player unreasonable to use in gameplay as often as you would like, leaving the feature virtually useless to everyone except those who dedicate lots of time to his practice. Other than the player creation, the game shares most of its features with other footballers such as team formations, tactics, etc. These are all there, which is nice, but once you start playing, nothing really seems to make a difference.
The gameplay in Club Football really isn’t up to par even with versions of other footballers that are several years old. The main problem is the horrible AI. Many times, you will find that your defenders will simply stand still as an opposing striker jets by with the ball. Players refuse to move into open areas for passing and your teammates will just remain still as you are trying to make a run through their general area. Even the real Manchester isn’t this bad. On the other side, the opposing teams all seem to have the same strategy—run up the middle. Raising the difficulty doesn’t seem to have any effect on solving any of these problems either. To top it off, movement often feels jerky and unrealistic with respect to the position of the ball. The controls just don’t work well whether you use a keyboard or gamepad. No matter how much you may love Manchester, Club Football 2005 just isn’t fun when it comes to gameplay.
Not that there is much time to notice the graphics when you’re screaming at your defenders during their naptime, but the graphics aren’t too shabby. I was a little surprised to notice that the game requires the use of Direct X 9.0c. It even manages to take advantage of it in some places. For instance, the facial expressions of your goalkeeper as Arsenal blasts yet another shot from five feet out are priceless. The field and stands are of a slightly lower standard. They are reasonably detailed and the fans look 'ok'. The real graphical fault is the players themselves. The faces are wonderful, but the rest of the body is very blocky and can sometimes look like almost no effort was put into giving the players a shapely form. Another small problem I noticed is that the ball doesn’t seem to really touch the foot when kicked; it isn’t that noticeable on the pitch but in the menus it is pretty obvious. The graphics at least fair better than the gameplay, leaving you with mixed feelings.
The sounds of Club Football 2005 are probably the high point of the game. The menu music has some nice sports tunes that set the mood really well. While there isn’t any music during gameplay, there are usually plenty of sounds. The crowd effects are okay, but the announcer does a pretty good job, even if the announcements get a little repetitive. The sound effects get the job done, but mostly just consist of a thud sound as the ball is kicked. While nothing special, the sounds do a decent job and don’t detract from the game.
No matter how great the appeal to own a Manchester United game; I suggest staying away from Club Football 2005. Despite implementing all the features you would expect of a good football game and even a few others, the game just can’t hold its own with the other games out today. The sound gets the job done and the graphics leave mixed feelings, but nothing begins to save the bad gameplay. Not even playing multiplayer, with no online features or special modes whatsoever, makes the game more enjoyable. Needless to say, this game will do nothing but make you want to pull out your hair and lower your opinion of Manchester United.