Groove Planet Review

Groove Planet Review

Apr 30, 2016

I’ve been playing Android games long enough now that I’ve run into a fair few ‘clicker’ games in my time. It’s always difficult to stand out in an over-crowded genre, but Groove Planet has got a unique angle. It’s a ‘clicker’ enfused with a music twist where you have to click in time to the beat. Could we call it a ‘beater’? No – better not.

The idea is that you’re mayor of an extraterrestrial planet. You’re tasked with making and spending ‘beats’ – which is basically money. Using your beats you build musically themed building – recording studios, radio towers, for example. These buildings earn you money without needing to tap and from there it’s pretty much like every other ‘clicker’ – watch the number grow, buy buildings to make the numbers grow quicker.

What you can do is tap alone in time to a beat. Tapping in time to a beat will grant you a bonus that soon multiplies in size. The reward is substantial and well worth doing. The problem is that this is just one of many extremely generous ways that the game increases your income, soon making progress trivial.

For example – during your time with the game there are missions you can complete. These are often very easy, such as tapping 200 times or earning a certain amount of money. Completing these missions grants all of your buildings a permanent buff, often 250x production, sometimes even 500x production.

There’s also ‘chances’ that appear very often. ‘Chances’ see you presented with 3 albums. You don’t know what the album will do and there is a chance (hence the name) that the result will be negative. However, receiving a positive result gives you huge buffs, which watching an advert can make even bigger and any negative results can be ignored by spending the game’s premium currency or, again, watching an advert.

This means that you may be working towards one goal, say building a new giant microphone, and it’ll seem like a real challenge. However, if you hit a couple of missions, get a good ‘chance’ result and tap to the beat a few times and you’ll be seeing your bank balance where it needs to be in no time.groove 2

This goes against what a clicker should be, as they need to reward patience and time spent not ‘on’ the app but at least with it installed and you checking in regularly. Having the rewards dished out so easily means it fails as a clicker in that regard but the game also fails in another regard. There’s no incentive to leave it running and to keep returning to it.

You see, most clickers are all about setting up a better production line of money and leaving it to get on with it so you can come back to the game in a few hours or days and reap the rewards. Groove Planet doesn’t reward you for leaving the game alone.

Another problem is that Groove Planet has you construct a specific building which is responsible for collecting money in your absence. The issue here is that the sums of money this building can hold are so small, they’re insignificant and yet to level-up this building soon becomes too expensive and a waste of money.

This means that Groove Planet is a clicker where you very quickly unlock everything and are offered no incentive to ever leave the game alone let alone return to it. What should be enjoyable, opening up the app and seeing what you can spend your money on, is instead an anti-climax.

Groove Planet is a ‘clicker’ that actually wants you to play it – which is exactly what a clicker shouldn’t demand. Why shouldn’t they demand this? Because actually playing a clicker is just clicking! By demanding your full attention you soon come to realise what a pointless and boring thing it is, to click on a screen mindlessly.

A shame really as Groove Planet looks nice enough and it’s neat idea, being able to play your own tunes and tap along to their beat. The problem is this is a game that should be much more passive but wants far too much attention.

Metal Slug Attack Review

Metal Slug Attack Review

Apr 29, 2016

I don’t think I’ve seen better animated pixels than in the Metal Slug series. Wildly goofy gaites and exaggerated throwing motions were always the staple of the series, which was known as a brutal hard side-scrolling shooter back in the day.

Metal Slug Attack has retained the glorious and gorgeous sprite work of previous Metal slug titles but instead plays completely differently.

Boiled down, Metal Slug Attack is a card collecting game where each card represents a troop you can take into battle. Win battles and you earn more cards. More cards means you can level-up your existing army, etc, etc, you know the drill. There’s all sorts of convoluted hooks in the game to get you to spend money on cards. Free spins of digital roulette wheels every day, coins that turn to gems, gems that turn to coins and tokens that are granted every 2nd Thursday of months ending in ‘Y’. It’s incredibly convoluted.unnamed-6

Luckily, you can ignore most of that and get into battle straight away. Battles are all about protecting your drop-pod and attacking the enemies’ instead. The two pods are placed at each end of the screen and you have to tap at the cards you’ve taken into the fight to spawn little dudes or dudettes that will dutifully walk from the left to the right, shooting at and being shot by the enemy.

The strategy is that your different troops do different attacks. Grenadiers lob explosives whilst other troops are capable of sniping from a distance. Some characters like to get up close and personal, carrying a knife and running to the left with no regard as to their own safety. Your points slowly fill up as the game goes on and you can spend points on an upgrade that makes your points fill up quicker. You gotta spend points to make points, as they say.

So it all looks lovely. I can’t stress how much I love the Metal Slug series’ 2D style and animations. The gameplay itself is fine, with some wiggle room for you to create an army that plays just how you want. The problem is that it’s all wrapped up in such a confusing and obtuse array of systems, currencies, special daily bonuses and limited-time quests. It becomes overwhelming to know what you should focus on, whether you should upgrade your characters or save them for some other poorly explained trade-in system that buried twelve menus deep.

If you can spend the time and read the wikis to get your head around how all of the meta stuff works, Metal Slug Attack might turn out to be totally engrossing and well worth getting into. As it was for me, I found it really pretty, enjoyable to play but ultimately confused me to the point of no return. As in, I played it for a week and now don’t want to return to it. A shame.

Damn Daniel Review

Damn Daniel Review

Apr 27, 2016

Why would anyone spend time making a game only to burden it with being associated with a meme that’s going to be forgotten in a week? That’s the number one question that sat on my mind during my time with Damn Daniel.

You see, Damn Daniel is basically a simple infinite-runner that’s grabbed onto the coat-tails of a meme, where one student points at another student’s shoes and shout “Damn Daniel!”. He makes comments on said shoes and it’s funny. Not actually funny but, you know, ‘internet funny’. Look it up.unnamed-3

You play as a cartoon version of the titular Daniel and you can see the trainers (sneakers) in question. They’re white and they stand out. This 2D infinite runner takes place in some form of infinite space, with a blue background broken up by blocks that you run over.

This needs to be challenging otherwise it would be less of a game than it already is. So what happens is these blocks drop away and sometimes they shift left or right. Basically, your route shifts right before your eyes and it’s your job to keep on top of this by tapping on the screen to jump to avoid gaps.

This is all fairly innocuous. No doubt you’ve played something similar before – the issue is that the shifting of the platforms feels unbalanced. It feels like sometimes the blocks will shift in such a way that escaping death is impossible. As if unfair deaths weren’t annoying enough, your demise is met by a sound clip from the meme that gave birth to this whole game.

“Daaammmn, Daniel!”

It gets very annoying very quickly and there’s little to make you want to keep on. The only glimmer of reward is that you can collect gems whilst playing and these unlock alternate clothes for Daniel to wear.

That’s it.

A highscore table and the ability to watch some adverts to grab extra gems are available but why bother? Damn Daniel is a bad example of what mobile gaming is about. A cynical attempt at riding the wave of popularity a meme is having by spitting out a sub-standard infinite runner. We can do better.

Damn, Daniel…

Rolling Sky Review

Rolling Sky Review

Apr 27, 2016

Imagine an infinite runner that has an end combined with a maze that shows you the way out. That’s what Rolling Sky is.

You control a rolling ball, controlling its horizontal movements by simply swiping left and right on the screen, as it makes its way from the start of the level to the end of the level. It’s so simple it requires no explanation. So ignore this entire paragraph.

The challenge comes through in the form of numerous obstacles that litter each level. Some levels are full of lasers, some are full of weights dropping from the sky and others have trees that cause you to explode.unnamed-3

Each level is set in stone. Where the spike pit was last time you played is where it’ll be this time. This means you have to spend time ‘learning’ each level and this is no easy feat. Some of the levels are seriously tricky and will require multiple attempts, especially if you want to collect the diamonds that are scattered about.

This would be annoying and boring if it weren’t for the presentation and the audio. The level’s are synched to the music which helps give everything a real punch. As the bassline of the song kicks in, the weights drop from the sky and it goes without saying that the music is pretty darn great.

Each level’s audio takes on a slightly different genre of music and the songs go through ups and downs with the levels representing this as well. When the song’s having a quiet moment you’ll be guiding your ball through a relatively simple slalom but when the beat kicks in, you’ll soon notice more hammers, spikes and other pitfalls coming your way.

Also nice to see is the way the game’s monetized. It’s not too abrasive, with 10 extra lives requiring that you watch an advert or wait for a period of time. You can also purchase your way out of this advertising which is a nice option for fans that hate adverts and want to throw some money the developer’s way.

On top of this there’s been updates throughout the game’s life, with new courses being added. Last I looked, the game was up to six. These courses only last about 3 or 4 minutes each, which may not sound like much of a game, but when you consider how hard they are to finish and how much harder it is to finish AND collect all the games, you’ve got something that should keep you busy for some time.

To finish, it’s safe to say that Rolling Sky isn’t revolutionary. It’s exceedingly simple but it’s all done exceedingly well. Well worth a download.

Billionaire. Review

Billionaire. Review

Mar 8, 2016

I did it. I made billion dollars and all it took me was a week of tapping mindlessly at my phone. Billionaire. is a ‘clicker’ game – all you have to do is tap the screen to make the numbers go up. Once you’ve got a big enough number you spend some of this number to buy something that makes the numbers go up automatically.

It’s game design boiled down to its most basic. Levelling up in RPGs, beating a high-score in an arcade game or killing as many people as you can in an FPS – it all boils down to numbers getting bigger and bigger.

Billionaire. gives this task a veneer of building businesses that make you money. From gymnasiums to magazine vendors as well as more unsavoury endeavours like ‘crack houses’ and ‘money launderers’ – you can build these business and watch your net worth grow.

The unsavoury businesses have a ‘threat’ value, though quite how this works is unclear to me. Even after a week or so of playing Billionaire. I still don’t get it. Every now and then you get arrested – this just means that you can’t click on anything for the time of your incarceration though you can watch a video or spend some gems to get out of jail early. It seems that the higher your ‘threat’ value, the longer you spend in jail, though I can’t be sure.bil2

Other things I can’t be sure of is why, sometimes, your businesses will be in debt. For no good reason and with no warning this happens. Another thing that sometimes happens is no progress will be made when you close the app. This is a massive problem when the whole appeal of the ‘game’ is to load it up every now and then to see the numbers get bigger. When you load it up only to see all of your businesses have taken the night off is a massive disappointment.

Then there’s also the fact that the maths behind the game are very wonky. Some of the upgrades you make to your business’s cost more than they’re worth. For example, it can cost you 100’s of millions to allow your business to hold $100,000 more cash. This would take weeks to be profitable, assuming you’re playing the game every day and checking multiple times a day.

Also stopping this from being a prime example of what ‘clicker’ games are is the fact there’s just not enough carrot and too much stick. Most ‘clickers’ will set you short term goals and generally make it worth your time to keep on clicking away. Billionaire. fails to do this and sets incredibly lofty goals for you to reach and offers very little to keep you engaged in the moment to moment of playing.

It’s a shame, as the game’s incredibly good looking and has a real style. It’s just that playing it becomes more of a grind than it should be and it doesn’t reward you nearly often enough. It’s also seriously needy as it’s constantly asking you to rate it and wants to know if you’re ‘happy’, ‘sad’ or ‘confused’. Quite how they’re using these metrics, I don’t know. Add it to the list, I guess.

FIFA 16 Review

FIFA 16 Review

Feb 20, 2016

Porting a console game to a mobile platform has got to be a very tough task. Imagine, you’ve got to scale everything down from the polygon count to the literal size of the screen. Now you’ve got to re-map the control scheme so it works on touchscreen devices. Whilst you’re there, completely change the design of the game so it supports a free-to-play model.

Not easy. So it’s good to see that FIFA 16 (or ‘Fifa 16 Ultimate Team’ as it says on my phone) has made this leap mostly successfully. For a start, most of what’s available on the console version has been stripped out and you’re left with the card focused ‘Ultimate Team’ mode. A sensible decision that allows players to trade and upgrade their players until they eventually build their… ultimate team, I suppose.unnamed

Once you fight your way through far too condensed menus and you struggle to select the best line-up you have, you’ll make it onto the pitch. More credit goes to EA here as they’ve managed to squeeze some serious graphical fidelity out of even my pretty basic phone. 3D models naturally don’t look exactly like their real-life counterparts but it’s good enough – on top of this it’s animated well to give each crunching tackle or cannon of a shot the impact it deserves.

Controls, for the touch screen, are simplified to pass, run, shoot and ‘skill move’. The on-screen joystick will let you pick a direction to run and pass in though the computer often ‘assists’ you in doing so. The problem is, where the game’s controls and mechanics have been squeezed down to fit onto mobile devices, you naturally lose a great deal of finesse and control of these actions.

A simple through-ball to a striker making a run turns into a full-on hoof down field straight into the keeper’s arms. No good. The game does allow you to swipe and tap directly onto the pitch as an alternative way to control, but this is a far worse control scheme. You can tell that the developers have realised this is a limitation of the game and as a result they fully support Bluetooth gamepads. I sadly didn’t have the use of one during my review, though I can only imagine it makes playing the game easier.

Outside of actually playing matches there’s only skill challenges and lots of menus left to keep you going. Skill challenges are a nice idea and give you an opportunity to practice the moves you’ll need during the season, though they only really serve to highlight how annoying the controls are and to provide you with some extra coins.

Another negative is that the previously mentioned clunky menus slow down the flow of the game for two reasons. Firstly, they’re a pain to navigate and items aren’t where you’d expect them to be. Secondly, every time a menu loads up it seems to be pulling information from the internet. You’d better have a good 4G connection or a strong wi-fi signal if you want to be trading cards and bidding on players.

Overall this is an admirable attempt at getting a giant console game onto mobile devices. Sadly, poor menus and clunky controls hold it back from being a true champion and it instead provides some mid-table fun.

Merged! Review

Merged! Review

Feb 18, 2016

It’s tough to make a splash in the hyper-crowded market that is free-to-play puzzle games available for Android. So it’s always amazing to see something hold my attention like Merged! has done.

As with all good puzzle games the aim is simple. You need to place numbered squares onto a grid. Place three squares that share the same number and they’ll merge together into one square which is one number larger. So don’t panic if the thought of ‘puzzles and numbers’ scares you, as long as you can count from one to six, you’ll be fine.

Notice I say one to six. This is because once you combine three or more ‘sixes’, you’ll be given an ‘M’. These ‘M’ squares get combined and they explode, clearing the grid for you and making your score a heck of a lot higher.unnamed3

So that’s the gist of it and here’s the strategy. The problem is that in Merged!, you don’t know what tiles you’re getting next. Sometimes the tile you’re given is one square large and other times it’s two squares large, like a domino. Trying to fit this tiles onto the grid and planning out how they’ll merge and combo together is the real meat of the game and it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Sure, sometimes you’ll be outdone by hard luck or saved by dumb luck, but more often than not it’ll be your own lacklustre planning that sees you fill up your grid and end your game.

The presentation is sparse, which helps keep everything clean looking and allows you focus on what’s really important. Squares with dots on them. The audio is also bare-bones but this is a fitting design decision in my opinion.

The only thing that will take you out of your zone is the banner adverts and the video adverts that run after each couple of games. I understand that the developers need to make their money, but it doesn’t stop it being jarring when you’re looking at the clean and crisp UI of Merged only to see an animated banner for a dating app pop-up at the top of your screen.

To the developer’s credit, there’s an IAP available that removes all of this and it’s reasonably priced. To me, at least – what’s less worthwhile is the ‘coins’ the game tries to sell you.

That’s right – one final mechanic to mention. During your games you can spend ‘coins’ to dump a tile that you’re happy with and pull out another random one. To me, this removed the purity of what makes Merged! such a compelling play to begin with, so I just ignored it. Like I said, I understand that the developers need to keep their lights on, so I’m willing to overlook it and simply never used it when playing.

In the end Merged! manages to stand out from the crowd and offers an interesting puzzle game that had me hooked similar to the way Threes! had a hold of me. Considering how much I loved Threes!, that’s quite the compliment.

Boom Boom Football

Boom Boom Football

Feb 6, 2016

As we fast approach SuperBowl season, I thought it’d be as good a time as any to take a look at Boom Boom Football. A fairly simple title that asks you to build a team by collecting cards, Boom Boom Football doesn’t do too much that’s new but for what it’s worth it’s a polished title that should scratch that footballing itch.

The set-up is straightforward. Your team is made up of 7 players and each one has a ‘skill’ value attached to them. The idea is that you want to have 7 players with high numbers as the higher the number the more likely you are to win the game.

Each game is made up of 7 moments where one of your players will go up against an opponent and they’ll either win or lose the moment. These moments will be familiar to anyone that’s watched a game of American Football as you’ll see a linebacker tackle a running back, a QB throw over a CB.

During these animated moments, which look very nice by the way, you’re tasked with pressing circles that randomly appear on the screen. The bigger circle stays on screen for the longest time and the smallest is on for the shortest time with the benefit of hitting smaller circles being that you have a higher chance of ‘winning’ the moment. ‘Winning’ the moment consists of a spin of a virtual wheel with the ‘winning’ are being larger if you pressed a smaller circle. If you don’t tap any circle then you lose straight away.screen640x640 (1)

It’s really simple and even if you are particularly sharp and hit all the tiny circles that appear during the game you might still lose. This is because the factor that affects the outcome of the wheel spin is the player’s skill values. If you have a player that’s 20 or 30 skill points worse than their opponent, then it’s next to useless even trying to win.

So with the game boiling down to numbers Vs numbers, the veneer of this being a game of skill soon fades away. Luckily, the game keeps the carrot within view at all times as each game played rewards you with new player cards and some cash. You can then put the new player cards into your starting line-up or feed the card to other cards to level them up. Feeding cards to each other costs in-game cash, which is where IAPs come into play.

On top of in-game cash there’s also in-game gold. Gold is used to buy ‘booster’ packs that contain players cards much better than anything you’d ever get by playing the game. This is a slightly convoluted system, with 2 in-game currencies muddying the waters but it’s made even worse when you take into consideration there’s also a 2 tier energy system too.

Energy, in the form of lightning bolts, is used to play season games. Season games are against the AI and culminate in cup games for bigger rewards. Then there’s the energy system made up of raffle tickets. These raffle tickets are used to buy entry into special event leagues that take place every now and then and also offer rewards for having the most points. Naturally, players willing to buy more raffle tickets and therefore play more games, will likely win the best cards.

So the game is extremely simple, very nicely presented but then has a too convoluted system of currencies, energy tokens and card boosting, evolving and leveling up – all with the aim of squeezing some cash out of the player. It doesn’t make the game unplayable, but it certainly gets in the way of enjoying what is a good diversion for football fans.

Gods of Rome Review

Gods of Rome Review

Jan 25, 2016

How cool would it be if there was a fighting game that took inspiration from Greek and Roman mythology? Something like Street Fighter mixed in with God of War. It’d be great.

Luckily for us, this is what we’ve got – Gods of Rome is a fighting game that has fighters ranging from Zeus to Hades with a sprinkling of minotaurs, cyclops and Julius Caesers.

It’s not all perfect though – sorry to burst your bubble. Fighting games have always had issues when being ported onto touchscreen devices so the agreed upon solution has been to dilute the beat ‘em-up genre to fit into simple tap and swipe controls. This means that Gods of Rome doesn’t feature any real combo system and isn’t particularly complicated or nuanced in its one-on-one battles.

You tap the right side of the screen to throw a string of light punches, you swipe right for a medium attack that charges and you can hold the screen to charge a strong attack that can break defences. Defence consists of holding the left of the screen to block and swiping left to dash away from your opponent.gods3

This means that although you’ll get punished for simply tapping away with light attacks and you’ll soon feel the full force of heavy attacks if you try and block too much for too long, there’s really not much else to the fighting outside of this. Sure, the fighters themselves act a little differently, having different speed of attack and varying reach to their strikes but it’s all fairly rudimentary.

This simplicity often means that the fighters with the best stats are the winner. As this is a free-to-play game, the hook here is that your fighters need to be upgraded using orbs. Orbs are dished out by playing the lengthy and ever-expanding story mode, by taking part in special event fights or by forking over some cold, hard cash.

It’s a fairly forgiving and generous model – there’s plenty of game to be played before the game asks for money. It’s always refreshing to see a game that isn’t aggressive in its quest to become profitable so Gods of Rome needs to be commended for the way it treats its players in this regard.

Overall, Gods of Rome treats its players to great visuals, it papers over its cracks with some simple gameplay and ultimately provides some simple entertainment. Not exactly heavenly but you could do a hell of a lot worse.

Tap Tap Tap Review

Tap Tap Tap Review

Apr 20, 2015

Style over substance. Form or function. Here’s an idea, how about we have both. Tap Tap Tap is both a hugely stylish game and also a ton of fun.

Truth be told, it’s incredibly simple. A hot, phat or dope (depending on your preferred parlance) beat drops and it’s down to you to follow the rhythmic instructions. In time with the beat simple instructions will appear on the screen and it’s down to you to follow the instructions before they fade away.

As your score goes up the time it takes for the instructions to fade away decreases. This means keeping up with everything that’s going on, as you’d imagine, gets harder. Not only does the speed increase but the commands themselves get a little more complicated as ‘taps’ turn into ‘double-taps’ and ‘swipes’ make way for ‘drag and drops’.taptaptap1

There’s a slight issue here as there were a number of times I could have sworn I’d tapped a circle or swiped on a piece of text, but it didn’t register. This probably isn’t a real issue and is probably down to my own ineptitude. What is definitely a real issue is how the audio commands start to trip over themselves.

When there’s a whole load of instructions rapidly one after the other, the smooth flow of the music and the announcer’s voice doesn’t quite match up as well as it does when there’s fewer hurdles being thrown onto the screen. When the game’s at its most simple, it’s arguably at its best.

I’ve said the word ‘simple’ a number of times now, but I mean it as a sincere compliment. Tap Tap Tap takes no explaining, lays all of its cards on the table within about 2 minutes of play and yet it’s had me wanting to beat my high score all week long. Considering this is a free game, one that’s not trying to coerce you into in-app purchases, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t give it a download and see for yourself what’s up, up, up with Tap Tap Tap.

A simple game that does one thing not just well but with tons of style too. Why haven’t you downloaded it yet? It won’t change your life but it’ll make your day a little more funky. Or cool. Or wicked. I don’t know what you kids are saying these days…

Doraemon Gadget Rush Review

Doraemon Gadget Rush Review

Feb 27, 2015

I’m totally oblivious to Doraemon. Other than seeing his cute blue face on a number of lunchboxes, backpacks and t-shirts, I have no idea what he or even it is about. So imagine my surprise when it turns out the Doraemon is actually a cyborg cat, sent from the future by a time-travelling scientist. Like The Terminator but only not.

Still, you don’t have to be a up on your Doraemon knowledge to be able to enjoy Doraemon Gadget Rush, all you have to do is be able to recognise when three tiles are of the same colour and are connected to each other. You then swipe the tiles and they disappear, you get points and more tiles drop onto the screen to replace them.DGR2

There’s a reason given for you to do this – it’s something about robots stealing gadgets and I think the robots are from the future as well, though I’m not sure. Naturally, the only way to defeat these thieving mechanoids is to try and get a high-score in the previously described tile-matching game.

To help you get as high a score as possible you can take characters and gadgets into each battle. The different characters you take into battle will offer you different perks, such as boost to score, extra time and bonuses for chaining together more tiles than 3. The same can said of the gadgets that you use as well, equipping one item to one character.

Similar to games like 10000000, Gadget Rush asks you to play the game over and over again but incentivises this with the awarding of experience points and coins at the end of each round. Levelled up characters and items will have stronger bonuses whilst coins can be used to buy buffs that can be used in future attempts to beat that high score.

This creates a loop of you wanting to beat your score, levelling up characters to make this more likely and then unlocking new items and characters that are better than their levelled up peers. It doesn’t hurt that the games presentation is kind on the eyes. Doraemon’s bright blue face is plastered all over this thing and everything’s beyond cute and cuddly. The music and little voice-clips that pop off when you do well don’t hurt either, even if it leaves such a sugary sweet taste that you risk diabetes every time you play.

Considering this is a game that many will write-off as ‘licensed rubbish’, Doraemon Gadget Rush is an incredibly solid puzzle game that has been built upon to include systems that reward and encourage continued play. The In-App-Purchases which are often egregious in most titles like are handled well and aren’t advertised in an intrusive or annoying way. A real pleasant surprise.

Motorsport Manager Review

Motorsport Manager Review

Feb 23, 2015

Managers. We always think we can do better. Any form of manager who’s managing any type of team – we can do better. Especially when it comes to sports, people inherently feel like they know more than the people in charge.

It’s this feeling that Motorsport Manager taps into. For a start, you can forget the fact it’s ‘about’ motorsports. Whilst it may be slightly easier for you to get into the game if you do watch Formula 1 or IndyCar, even if you’re not interested in anything with 4-wheels (like me) you’ll still have a great time with Motorsport Manager.

To start with you have a pretty terrible team of mechanics, drivers that don’t know where the brakes are and your car is pretty crummy too. From this launchpad you’ve got to work your way across multiple racing leagues and build up a team that can rival McLaren.

The game is all menu driven so it’s a good thing that the UI is a thing of beauty. Everything is incredibly intuitive and whilst a basic tutorial helps out to begin with it’s not entirely necessary. The game is incredibly simple to play but don’t start thinking that this means the game itself is simple.MM3

Within Motorsport Manager you’re often spinning multiple plates. You have sponsors to keep happy, as they pay the wages. You’ve got drivers to keep an eye on, for obvious reasons they need to be performing well. Upgrading your HQ is a big consideration as this will allow you to build a better car. There are also lead engineers to be mindful of and the potential to set-up a driving academy so you can train up your own drivers from a young age. All of these elements require attention and financing, so you’ll need to juggle several needs at one time whilst also keeping an eye on the team’s bank balance.

You may have noticed that I’ve not even mentioned the racing yet. Don’t take that as a yellow flag because the racing is fantastic. There’s two steps to each race as you have to go through qualification followed by the race itself. Whilst you don’t have direct control over racers (this is a management game after all) you can provide instructions to your drivers.

Like with everything in this game, instructions you can provide are simple. During qualification you have to find the right setup for your car. You can tune your engine to focus on top speed or acceleration or somewhere in-between. You can also alter the aerodynamics to help on straights, cornering or leave it to be neutral also. This is important as getting a good time will put you in a strong starting position and it’s also key to find the right set-up for your car as this is what you take into race day.

The race itself is tense. You need to keep track of how your tires are doing as their tread will wear away. This a car with bald tires will slow down and is more likely to crash out. It’s therefore important that you time and plan your pit-stops according to how many laps are left and how your opponents are doing. Races are won and lost based on how well you execute the timing of your pit-stops. On top of this, dynamic weather will also come into play as will safety cars and mechanical faults. You’ve always got to be on your toes.

So in the end, Motorsport Manager is a fantastic title that’s intuitive to start with, has some basic systems but all builds up to something that’s incredibly compelling to play. Even if you’re not interested in motorsports, this is totally worth it.