With all the behind the scenes changes encountered by Championship Manager 5, it's a surprise the game doesn't begin with a Star Wars-style crawl of text saying, 'It is a period of Civil War.' It's a credit to Beautiful Game Studios that there's no need for any such disclaimers. For what is clear the second Champ Man 5 loads, is that the departure of original series developer Sports Interactive hasn't created a period of unrest, but the prospect of an exciting new era instead.
If you're worried that this will be Champ Man by name association only, don't panic. What is evident from our time with the game is that Beautiful Game Studios has done its homework.
From focus groups to consumer testing, Champ Man 5 is being designed to keep the fans on board and to bring in a new breed of devotees. The change in developer has also brought in some exciting innovations to the series thanks to the title now being designed from the ground up rather than evolved from an older product.
The change in engine is evident the moment you're given the familiar task of picking what leagues you want the game to run and the team you want to play as. In last year's game, Season 03/04, this task resulted in a ten-minute wait as the cogs inside the PC whirred into gear to make calculations.
Even with a state-of-the-art machine, running more than five leagues simultaneously was a heavy burden. The new engine makes light work of 25 simultaneous leagues and has you tinkering with your chosen team in seconds.
Not only is it a remarkable feat that will seem like a Holy Grail to Champ Man fans, but the minimum specification to perform such miracles is currently a P700 with 128MB of RAM! Inside the game other changes are equally impressive.
Comparing players is now a doddle, and searching for a specific type of player is easier than ever. On the Tactics screen, not only can you chalk up where players will run to, you can also instruct them where to feed the ball. Nifty, eh? You can even create custom training schedules for individual players. Tip: send Rooney on a 'How To Avoid Eating All The Pies' course.
They're all logical areas of improvement - nothing too radical from what has gone down before, but they are subtle differences that hopefully will create an even more absorbing game and, frighteningly, one that's even more addictive than ever.
It wasn't broke, but it's been fixed. Champ Man 5 will shock fans with new levels of speed and a host of smart refinements. Fingers crossed it plays well too.