The more cynical among us greet yearly updates to sport franchises as though they are mere cash-ins comprising little more than updated stats coated in a fresh lick of paint.
The PlayStation Vita version of FIFA 13 has provided fresh ammunition for this school of thought, but Sports Interactive has remained immune from such criticism with its Football Manager series, adding a raft of new features with each annual release.
Football Manager Handheld 2013 includes all the expected updates to the legendary database powering the game, but beyond the addition of a few new leagues and some cosmetic improvements, there appears to be precious little novel about it.
The lasting impact of the Olympics is still being debated and determined, but its official video game might well have delivered a legacy of how developers treat multi-sport events in the future. It’s no classic, but it’s arguably the best attempt that anyone has made to create a game worthy of such a major license.
The emphasis of Sega’s effort is inevitably on the core Olympic sports of athletics and swimming, but diving, archery, shooting and gymnastics are also heavily featured. A number of other events such as table tennis, rowing, shooting, kayaking, weightlifting and women’s beach volleyball are also part of the package.
As sports simulations become increasingly complex and realistic, it’s reassuring to know that developers are still keen to make games that are simple to play but remain challenging and void of cutesy cartoon characters.
The Virtua Tennis series has long been a subscriber to these principles in its console and arcade iterations, and most of the elements that have made it so popular are present and accounted for on Vritua Tennis Challenge on iOS.
With engaging arcade gameplay and surprisingly satisfying touchscreen controls, it’s one of the best tennis games on iOS, despite a lack of real players and a developed structure.
When the Football Manager series first made the transition from the desktop to the PSP, the addiction that had blighted my early teenage years had escaped my bedroom and now accompanied me wherever I went, harming my social life and academic prospects in equal measures.
The jump to iOS exacerbated this problem, allowing me to play the game just about anywhere, even at the most inappropriate of times. Partly through design, partly through the limitations of the hardware, Football ManagerHandheld’s stripped down take on the series was still surprisingly deep and fiendishly addictive.
Football Manager Handheld 2012 doesn’t offer anything radically new to the formula, but instead refines it, resulting in one of the best football management games ever created.