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.



App Review: Fantasy Premier League 2014-15

Format: iPhone (Reviewed), iPad

Version: 1.0

The Premier League was pretty late to launch an official application for its popular fantasy football game, but boy, is it making up for it now.

Its first app was released midway through the 2012-13 season, but shortly after the conclusion of that campaign, it stopped working. It of course released a new app for 2013-14, forcing players to pay again if they wanted an alternative to the mobile website.

So it should come as no surprise to iOS users they will have to stump up the cash, this time £1.49 (up from 69p) for the official application of the 2014-15 season.


Sky Sports Takes Advice From ‘ESPN 8: The Ocho’ To Fend Off BT Sport Competition

As football clubs across the country prepare for the start of the new season, the nation’s broadcasters have also been making moves for their own battle for supremacy, which takes place not only in our living rooms but on our mobile devices too.

Last year saw arguably the most significant development in UK sports television since the launch of Sky Sports itself, with BT Sport’s arrival in the market. Unlike Setanta or ESPN, BT has the ambition and the money to mount a serious long-term challenge to Sky’s supremacy.

Sky’s big innovation for 2014-15 is the launch of Sky Sports 5, a football-only channel that brings it perilously close to ESPN 8 ‘The Ocho’, the satirical channel featured in the movie Dodgeball that boasted “if it’s almost a sport, we’ve got it here.”


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: 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