Review: Football Manager Classic 2014 (PS Vita)

Format: Playstation Vita

Developer: Sports Interactive

Publisher: Sega

Be warned, Football Manager Classic 2014 (FMC) is a grower. It’s not as easy to love as the excellent Football Manager Handheld (FMH) series, which has offered wannabe managers the chance to tinker with tactics and shout obscenities at a tiny screen on the commute for a number of years now.

But FMC does offer something more than FMH, which has stagnated in the past few years, offering incremental updates instead of true innovation. It’s just that, like all good relationships, takes a while to get to know and you’ll need to accept and understand its faults and quirks before you can truly appreciate it.



Review: Football Chairman (iPhone/iPad/Android)

Format: iPhone, iPad (Reviewed v. 1.0.9), Android

Developer: Underground Creative

Last year, Pixel Sport reviewed Football Chairman Lite (FC Lite) and praised its simple, accessible take on running a football club, and hoped that future iterations would build on what is a great idea with more depth and realism.

The best thing about the game was it was free, making it easy to dismiss many imperfections or faults while enjoying its rapid, ‘one-more match’ gameplay. But this is an excuse that the £2.99 full version of Football Chairman cannot hide behind, especially with the best part of another year in development.

Football Chairman is an improvement, but a very minor one and the core concept is as appealing as ever. However there’s no escaping that it’s not vastly superior to the free version that we enjoyed so much 12 months ago.


Review: Your Turn Football (iPhone/iPad)


Format: iPhone, iPad (Reviewed v.1.1)

Developer: Pick 6 Studios

Some sports are more ideally suited to asynchronous multiplayer than others. Golf, snooker or rallying would appear to be ideal candidates, but contact sports like American football are not likely to be on the top of most people’s lists.

But by essentially reducing the sport of gridiron into a turn-based battle of wits, Your Turn Football succeeds in its aim. Your quarter-back is unlikely to summon Ifrit or unleash Thundara, but it’s a neat concept almost ruined by in-app purchases so cynical that they limit any meaningful progression.

Your Turn Football is multiplayer only and adheres to the basic structures of American football such as eleven players competing over four quarters, but offensive and defensive strategies are selected by each player before each turn begins.


Review: Football Chairman Lite (iPhone/iPad)

Format: iPhone, iPad (Reviewed – v 1.0)

Developer: Underground Creative

There are few things in Football Manager more frustrating than when the board rejects your request for more transfer funds or a larger wage bill.

How can he be so blind not to see the need for that brilliantly talented but totally unproven Brazilian forward that could prove the difference in your European charge? But then again, you might be a brilliant tactician with a keen eye for a player, but can you run a successful business?

Football Chairman puts you firmly on the other side of the fence, giving you the power to make such financial decisions in what is a crazily addictive simulator only soured ever so slightly by the limited implementation of its ideas.


Review: The Football Playbook (iPhone/iPad)


Formats: iPhone (version 1.1)

Developer: Super Rock Games

The App Store isn’t exactly left wanting for football tactic themed line drawing games. Fluid Football and Score! World Goals are but two titles that have enjoyed success on iOS in recent times.

The Football Playbook is another game hoping to capitalise on the demand for touchscreen-based alternative football titles and hopes its retro visuals and tactics board gameplay will help it stand out from the crowd.

It comes packed with plenty of content and is easy on the eye, but it is more laborious to play and an example of how quantity does not always mean quality.


Review: Stick Cricket Premier League (iPhone/Android)


Formats: iPhone (reviewed – version 1.0), Android

Developer: Stick Sports

Whatever your views on the rampant commercialism or Twenty20 format of the Indian Premier League, there is no denying the spectacle of witnessing the world’s best players playing in some of cricket’s most famous and atmospheric grounds.

Stick Cricket Premier League attempts to replicate this with a game that offers little in the way of gameplay improvements, but adds a new mode in which to play arguably the best cricket game for mobile devices.

You take control of a franchise based on one of the nine that compete in the actual IPL with the task of winning the league within five seasons. It doesn’t really matter which team you choose as you are given a set of default players, a bit like the Master League in Pro Evolution Soccer, so we chose the team with the nicest colour scheme, Pune.


Review: OOTP Baseball 2014 (PC)


Format: PC

Developer: OOTP Developments

Last month, we took a look at iOOTP Baseball 2013, a portable baseball management simulator whose unrivalled depth and customisation options made it must have for fans of the sport.

We even suggested that non-baseball fans might enjoy so long as they enjoyed number crunching. If that doesn’t sound like you, then not only should you not buy OOTP Baseball 2014, then you should probably stop reading this review.

For everyone else, keep on reading because OOTP is much more detailed in every conceivable way, offering one of the most in-depth simulators around. It’s unmistakably niche, but is unapologetic for it, offering what can only be described as a baseball geek’s dream.


Review: Ski Jumping Pro (iPhone/iPad)


Format: iPad (Reviewed, version 1.2), iPhone

Developer: Vivid Games

Ski jumping isn’t really a sport that we Brits understand. Our Nordic and Alpine cousins seem to think that launching yourself really fast down a really steep hill is a good idea, but to the rest of us, it just seems bonkers.

It has given us one of our greatest sporting icons though. Eddie the Eagle’s exploits at the 1988 Winter Olympics epitomised the British love of the sporting underdog, but the fact that the former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson has jumped further than the British national record should tell you everything about our limited achievements.

But despite this apparent disinterest, Ski Jumping Pro is still a disappointment. Playing it is a bit like going for a drink with a beautiful girl only to find out that you have nothing to talk about. OK, it’s nothing like that, there are no awkward silences to contend with after all, but it’s still upsetting.


Review: iOOTP Baseball 2013 (iPhone/iPad)


Format: iPad (version 1.0), iPhone

Developer: OOTP Developments

For many people on this side of the pond, the first ball of the English cricket season marks the start of summer, offering the tantalising prospect of lazy days spent basking in the sunshine at the village green, county ground or even Lord’s itself– at least until the rain comes down, anyway.

In the US, such language is reserved for America’s own summer sporting pastime – baseball. Invented as a way of reinforcing a true American national identity in the 1800s, it now represents the country’s modern love affair with sports statistics.

Just about every aspect of the game can be measured by one stat or another, and if that doesn’t sound appealing, then iOOTP Baseball 2013 isn’t for you. However, if the thought of sifting through hits, strikes and saves does, then here is a management simulator that rivals just about any other on iOS in terms of depth.


Review: Soctics League (iPhone/iPad)

Soctics League 1

Format: iPad (Reviewed – version 1.23), iPhone

Developer: Bitongo

When I was nine years old, I was given Subbuteo as a Christmas present. It came with a Manchester United team set, corner takers and even a miniature European Cup, but like most toys, it wasn’t really for children as I broke, lost and generally neglected every piece of the game.

At least I can’t lose anything from Soctics League, which is a bit like a turn-based version of Subbuteo that closely resembles air hockey. It’s a simple game, both visually and in terms of how it plays, and has a strong focus on online multiplayer, but its appearance masks a game of tactical depth.

Matches are played out from a top-down angle, with players denoted by coloured circles. You control three players and must get the ball into your opponents net with the first to score three goals declared the winner.

Tabletop madness

At the beginning of each turn, you set the direction you want each player to go by drawing a line on the touchscreen and your opponent will do the same.

The range of each player is dependent on their size and can be changed at the beginning of the game or after a goal has been scored. Larger players have a greater presence on the field but can cover less ground, while smaller players have the opposite qualities.

If you don’t want to a move a player, you can make them ‘stick’ by tapping them, meaning that they can’t be moved by the opposition, who will simply bounce off them.

At first, the results are generally chaotic. Players and the ball bounce of each other and the sides of the pitch and the ball can go pretty much anywhere, especially if you’ve applied a lot of power to a player’s movement.

It can be difficult to be methodical, but once you gain an understanding of how the physics work, strategic and tactical options will become clearer, as will considerations about how many players to take forward and how many should be left to defend.

Always better together

Single player options extend to recreations of major international tournaments such as South Africa 2010 and Euro 2012, but the AI is no substitute for a human opponent. Local and online multiplayer is the best way of playing Soctics, something that is both its strength and weakness.

While playing online is a lot of fun, it does mean that you need to be near a Wi-Fi connection or have a good 3G signal to play. Without such connectivity, you are exposed to the fact that there is little depth to the game, no matter how good it is.

Another gripe is the binoculars power-up which predicts the path of the ball before you make a move. These can be bought via an in-app purchase and can potentially hand one player an unfair advantage – something that is undesirable in a multiplayer environment.

Fun, frantic and at times anarchic, Soctics’ beauty is in its simplicity and online multiplayer is a riot. It’s just a shame it’s not that much fun alone.

Overall: 7