Review: Motorsport Manager (iPhone/iPad)

Format: iPhone, iPad (version 1.0.2)

Developer: Christian West

My favourite Grand Prix of recent years was the 2011 Canadian GP. On the final lap of a rain-delayed race, Jenson Button forced an error from the dominant Sebastian Vettel to secure victory. It was a perfect example of all the variables, excitement and fine margins for error in motorsport.

In Motorsport Manager, you are given the chance to act as your own team principal and make the key strategic decisions that could allow one of your drivers to secure a last-lap triumph. Formula One is a famously technologically advanced sport, but there is no orgy of statistics here.

Like many of its contemporaries on mobile, the game is rapid-paced, simple and accessible, with seasons completed in a matter of hours rather than days.

On the grid

It’s not a sandbox manager though. The single goal is to win the World GP constructors championship – the highest ranking series in the fictional game world. You start off in the lowest tier of racing with modest facilities, inexperienced engineers and unskilled drivers, but all of these can be upgraded to provide you with a better car. This is all funded from prize money and sponsorship, both of which become easier to attain as you rise through the ranks.

Car development is fairly straightforward as the only real factor is investment and you don’t need a lot of motorsport knowledge to get to grips with it. Simple, clean menus and easy to understand barometers of performance make it an easy, straightforward process that won’t have anyone who cries at the mere sight of a spreadsheet running away in disgust.

Race management is a bit more complex and it is here you will extract the most enjoyment and have the most impact. Like a young Ron Dennis, you set up the car, choose the tyres and make key decisions such as when to pit, when to push the car and when to conserve tyres. Seeing a one stop strategy pay off handsomely is a great feeling, but, like in the real world, crashes, retirements, safety cars and the weather are all out your hands.

The ability to adapt to these events, and the moves of your opponents, is necessary to turn podiums into race wins. Some more strategy options would be welcome, but there is enough interaction for races to be hugely entertaining.

The circuits themselves look fantastic thanks to a tilt-shift filter that makes tracks look like model villages and cars displayed as small discs. The result is incredible and proves you don’t need flashy 3D engines to make a visual impact. Indeed, MM is one of the best looking management titles on iOS, albeit in a genre that isn’t exactly renowned for graphics.

Motorsport Manager (4)

Parc ferme

This visual appeal, along with the simplicity and ease of decision making will attract casual players, but it’s a shame there isn’t a bit more depth. Car development is done almost entirely in the background with player input limited to a few pre-season ‘dilemmas’.

Players could be forced to choose between continuing to develop this season’s car or devote more resources to the following season’s machine, for example. Similarly, you could accidentally undermine your engineers’ efforts with your incompetence, producing a total dud of a car.

This, along with the limited man management and contract negotiation options, make it feel as though progression is too linear. So long as you throw enough money at your team, you’ll eventually be successful. There aren’t multiple ways to play the game and with the lack of a developed game world that could see drivers defect to other teams or long term rivalries develop, it’s clear the game has an expiry date.

But MM is a lot of fun and its campaign, although a bit one-dimensional, does have some lasting appeal. Its light-hearted take on the world of motorsport, ease of use and great visuals offer wide appeal and crucially, it has that ‘one more race’ feel to it. It’s more Football Chairman than Football Manager, but fans of both will find much to enjoy.

Overall: 8

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