NBA Live Mobile Review

NBA Live Mobile Review

Jul 28, 2016

NBA Live Mobile. From Electronic Arts.

Yes, we’re on board.

This one is brightly done, with sharp colors and fine animations. Menus are visually descriptive, and the players generally conform to real life sizes and facial appearances. EA has a reputation in design, and mostly lives up to it here.

Off the bat, it’s important to note that this isn’t one’s usual basketball simulation; it doesn’t have current-ish NBA rosters in place for players to select a familiar and/or favorite team from. It isn’t really a management strategy game either, as there isn’t a traditional salary cap to contend with.

Instead, it’s more like a multi-mode sports RPG with NBA players in the mix, remixing teams from the start. After selecting a franchise, one gets a bunch of players divvied up into a few “lineups” with unique abilities.
Adding in Zach Lavine for the dunking lesson is savvy, as is tossing in Steph Curry for the special abilities tutorial.


One can get into game challenges, or look to go against other folks, or engage in a seriously abbreviated season; mostly, he goal is to win resources and unlock players. Then, with some savvy trading and acquisitions, one can build a super team of sorts.

The action segment is fairly well done; it goes 5v5 with current players in one’s lineup, and onscreen virtual buttons control the movements and actions of the players. There are a set of defensive actions, and when possessions change, one gets

Ah, but just when one gets into it, one has to deal with the energy requirement. Be if far from us to complain about monetization, but this one sorta creeps on one, what with the use energy buckets to get things rolling, redoing a challenge can be costly. There are ways to get refills, and one can use real money to supplement.

The game does a feel a bit busy in sections, and the aforementioned energy requirement might deter one from simply playing. The play rules are fairly loose, so basketball purists might balk at some elements as well.

As noted, for a folks looking for a realistic sim akin to the console titles, this one probably won’t cut the mustard. If one is able to see it for what it is meant to be — a management/building game with familiar names as the pieces — it isn’t too bad of an experience.

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.

Airline Director Review

Airline Director Review

Oct 27, 2014

Simulations usually go one of two ways: engaging or painful. Airline Director looks to be in the former category.

The user interface is fairly basic, with a low-frill information presentation via the navigation screens. the walk-through runs one through the basics of what we are supposed to do: build an airline empire. The globe is shown, with airports as pin dots; clicking on one gives information on the selected port as well as action options.

The player starts out with cash and a couple planes; the game prompts the player to pick a starting airport on the globe, and from there it is necessary to negotiate rights to use that and other airports and (as is necessary early on) to create a hub, as hubs are essential to operations. The gameplay is turn-based, so after actions are taken, one can “play” to advance to the next time quarter.

Going forward, it is then prudent to set routes; routes are true business decisions, as one must weigh factors like aircraft on hand, range, and costs versus profits. Then, expansion requires purchasing aircraft, expanding routes, taking heed of rising costs and more. At all times, it is necessary to keep an eye on the cash hoard, and to understand that not all moves are immediate; for example, ordering a plane can take a turn or two. Financials are presented periodically, and existing routes can be devolved, and planes sold.


I think what makes the game work is the flow of the gameplay. The developer does a better than decent job of tying concepts together, with economic realities that do not allow the game to be too easy. For example, use rights expire, so if one goes into them and isn’t able to start flights after getting them, the rights are lost and money spent wasted. There are tons of planes with different attributes, and even airports need to be researched before expansion.

The game engine is fairly easy to understand too, and this is definitely a plus. The different save slots can allow for different plays to have their own sims going (in theory).

I do think the UI could be spiffier, the game gets the point across with simple screens and basic animations, but I still think a bit more definition could be used to highlight the gameplay. Pricing ($6.90) might cause pause, but I’d take the upfront pricing anyway.

All in all, it plays like full-featured, logical sim, providing plenty of opportunities to explore and create virtual empires.

Transport Empire Review

Transport Empire Review

Sep 1, 2014

Transport Empire starts the player off with a single train route and not much else. From there the player must build a huge, sprawling, well, transport empire!

Screenshot_2014-08-28-05-07-44Despite the name, Transport Empire only features trains, with some apparent Zeppelin action late in the game. Much like a certain other transport based game that was recently released on Android the player builds stations next to natural resources, such as wood or coal and ferries them back and forth by fulfilling contacts, which are just a fancy way of saying a single trip with resources.

Each trip in Transport Empire earns the player a small chunk of resources or money and has a freemium timer of at least a few minutes. Delivering resources allows those resources to be used for other things. For example to upgrade a wood production structure stone may be needed.

Transport Empire is very on-rails, so to speak. Tracks and stations can only be built where the game says and there is less of a feeling of building an empire and more of simply going through the motions.

Screenshot_2014-08-28-05-06-46Transport Empire just isn’t fun. The game lacks much spice and feels very dry. Most freemium game have something for the player to do while timers tick down, such as fighting battles or repeating old stages or the like. Transport Empire however is only about ordering trains around and once all trains have destinations there is nothing for the player to do expect twiddle their thumbs and wait for something to finish or spend resources so they can begin another un-skippable train journey.

And Transport Empire has a heck of a lot of timers. Even early updates to buildings take a good half hour and when the payout is simply more dull gameplay, it just isn’t worth waiting for.

What really makes Transport Empire unplayable however is its appalling interface. On a good phone like my S4 the game’s text and interface are completely unreadable. Text is so tiny it looks like simple black lines and teeny icons and buttons a fraction of an inch wide are a nightmare to use. There is just no excuse for slap dash Android games like this that don’t take screen size into account when scaling text anymore.

Transport Empire is a already-mediocre freemium game that is ruined by its interface. Players who enjoy their trains really only have one in-depth choice and that choice is Transport Tycoon. Freshly released on Android and reviewed at this very site, TT will scratch that locomotive itch better than Transport Empire ever could and it doesn’t ask for money.

Baseball General Manager 2014 Review

Baseball General Manager 2014 Review

Aug 18, 2014

Baseball General Manager 2014 is extremely light on actual management. Players expecting something even remotely as complex and fulfilling as Football Manger will be sorely disappointed. BGM plays more like a social game than anything else.

BGM2104’s gameplay is extremely simple. Players play games by simply tapping on play then choose an opponent. The game then randomly determines though pure team value who wins. Player level doesn’t seem to make much difference it is simply about who has the more valuable team. Energy is expended by playing and players can be trained which increases their value slightly, making the team stronger. That is the extent of BGM14’s gameplay.

Screenshot_2014-08-15-07-09-56There are no tactical options. Forget about even the simplest tactical options such as reorganizing your outfielders or pinching hitters. None of that happens because playing games in BGM simply involves tapping the “play” button and then a screen appearing telling the player whenever they won or lost.

There is no gameplay or management whatsoever. Signing new players is ridiculous as well. Players have no attributes. The only thing that matters is their value compared to other players. Higher value players make it easier to win. Signing new players simply involves bidding on a randomly selected group of players and hoping other players don’t outbid you. Any player of management games knows that scouting for and signing promising players is one of the most fun parts of the game, so this is a disappointment.

Screenshot_2014-08-15-04-42-13It is really a wonder that the MLB endorses this game as there isn’t even the barest vestiges of tactics available for matches. It captures none of the flair of baseball. It simply is not a management game at all.

Because this a freemium game, there are plenty of pay to win buffs as well, such as sport drinks that prevent training progress from mysteriously disappearing and just buying additional currency with real money.

Baseball General Manager 2014 is also distinctly unpolished. There is no sound at all, the interface looks cheap like a Facebook game and the message centre headings are inexplicably in Mexican rather than English. Server errors are common. The game as a whole is laggy despite being simple text and pictures. Training sometimes just plain doesn’t work unless you restart the app as it failed to unlock. Baseball General Manager 2014 just feels amateurish.

Baseball General Manager 2014 is not a management game at all and is not worth playing in the slightest. Fans of sport management have one choice on Android and that choice can only be Football Manger 2014. Grab that for a far, far more satisfying sporting experience.

Big Win NHL Hockey Review

Big Win NHL Hockey Review

Dec 31, 2013

Big Win NHL Hockey continues the somewhat popular Big Win series of managerial sports games. Is it worth playing?

Big Win NHL Hockey is somewhat like a sports management game, without the sharp edges. Players gain control of a team of very poor players and are given a little money and attempt to build a world class team. For the first time in a Big Win game, Big Win NHL is officially licensed by the NHL and features real players.

Screenshot_2013-12-29-05-51-00Big Win NHL Hockey is based around cards. New players and stat boosters for them come in packs of cards the player can buy. Many card packs are available for both in game and premium currency. There are also power up cards that can be played during a match, and boost certain attributes of your team, such as shot power.

During a match the player has no control at all. Games can be skipped with no penalty. Like other management games such as Football Manager Handheld 2014, Big Win NHL is about management, not playing hockey.

Screenshot_2013-12-29-06-54-50However, the management side of the game is nearly non-existent. The only managerial feature is ensuring the team has good chemistry. Chemistry makes the whole team play better and can only be raised by recruiting players from the same real life team into your team. Unfortunately the completely random method of player acquisition makes this complete luck.

Like other Big Win games, the fun of Big Win NHL Hockey comes from finding the next great player or card and watching the team wipe out the opposition with it. The slow burning nature of the game makes acquiring new players satisfying.

Big Win NHL Hockey suffers from the same major downside of other games in the Big Win series, namely that players often make poor tactical decisions and there’s nothing to be done about it. Whenever it’s forwards screwing up the simplest passes or defenders taking shots from half the rink away, there are a lot of times when players just give away possession or otherwise mess up any chance of winning. This is frustrating to watch.

There also seems to be a problem with matchmaking. Nearly every time I attempted to find a game I was matched up with players who were level 70 or above and unbeatable with my lv 5 team. The Rivals at War series by the same developer had great matchmaking, so it’s a mystery why this is the case here. This is a real problem in Big Win NHL because levels are only gained by winning games.

The game’s presentation is rather dull as well. Players are small and poorly animated in game and while the sound gets the job done, some effects such as body checks lack impact.

Big Win NHL Hockey is really not worth playing. While having real players is a big step for the series, the oppressive microtransactions and some poorly implemented mechanics make it a very poor game.

Fiz: Brewery Management Game

Fiz: Brewery Management Game

Dec 20, 2013

It’s no secret that craft beer is the fad that brings everyone from all walks of life together; hipsters to lawyers, middle aged middle management to college students, men and women, all have enjoyed this new phenomenon where your local watering hole or liquor store doesn’t feature the same boring watered down beverages, but rather those made with passion and love that taste amazing. Similarly, the game Fiz: Brewery Management also possesses the soul of those great craft breweries; a game that was built from the ground up by a group of passionate beer drinkers, with a little financial help from those on Kickstarter.


Many management style games utilize microtransactions or a way for the player to “cheat” their way to the next level. Players of Fiz will not see anything of the sort. Instead currency must be earned through financial management, budgeting, marketing research, beer sales, and participating in given events. While this title never let’s you completely tank, it also doesn’t make it a cake walk to earn the big bucks and become a world renown brewer either. This title really makes the player have to think and be resourceful, even more so than popular NimbleBit or Karisoft titles. Anything from where you sell, to what you sell, to how it’s made can make or break your digital brewery, much like real life.

Beer Geeks will also love the deep selection of styles of beers one can brew in Fiz. Anything from Lagers to IPAs, to Saisons and Russian Imperial Stouts and even Barleywines are some of the many types of beer you and your pocket brewery can produce for the various unseen e-customers. Of course, not all beers are created equal, as some have higher costs than others and some don’t do as well as others do at certain establishments. You could spend most of the game brewing the basic Lager and selling it at your buddy’s market, but no brewer with any merit wants to do just that. Besides, where’s the adventure and money to be made?


Even the individual brews can be affected depending on any number of factors. The equipment in which your establishment owns to who you have on staff, can affect the quality or time it takes to make a beer. Even special modifiers can be put in which can increase player’s XP, beer quality and a number of other factors. There is an absolute ton of different things players need to factor in when trying to make that perfect beer.

There is just so much about this game that makes it a lot of fun, interesting, and a title that you just won’t be able to walk away from. It also gives players the freedom to play as much or as little as they like, with the game’s time pausing upon exit. This way one needent worry about time passing without profit. Not only is Fiz one of the most realistic management games out there, it’s probably one of the most interesting. Much like your favorite beer, once you try Fiz, you’re going to want to tell everyone else about it.

Pocket Trains Review

Pocket Trains Review

Oct 22, 2013

Pocket Trains offers players the chance to run their own pocket-based railway line. But how does it play?

Pocket Trains is all about transport. Once a starting city has been picked, players transport cargo, build new railways and expand. there is no overarching goal in Pocket Trains. you just build as big as you can.

Each city in Pocket Trains has a number of jobs on offer. Jobs consist of delivering different amounts of cargo to a city. Completing jobs earns coins. Coins are used to build new stations so trains can deliver to more cities and buying rights to use railway lines.

Screenshot_2013-10-16-10-13-17Each train in Pocket Trains is tied to a certain stretch of track. Each time a new station is unlocked, the track leading to it can be assigned to one of your trains. A relay system is needed to transport cargo long distances if the destination is on another stretch of track.

Players can also construct their own trains. It is important to keep building new trains as your railway expands so trains can transport things effectively.

Screenshot_2013-10-15-11-26-04Graphics wise Pocket Trains is cute, but not outstanding. It’s fun to see all the different types of cargo thundering along in train cars and the colourful, easy to use menus are easy on the eyes too.

Soundwise the game is pretty average, there really isn’t much to hear except the click-clack of your trains and a few snatches of county style music.

On the whole Pocket Trains is enjoyable if a bit like busywork. It requires a lot of micromanagement and frequent short bouts of gameplay. The gameplay doesn’t change much from the start of the game and this leads to it becoming repetitive rather quickly.

Unfortunately, Pocket Trains has a lot of ways to take your money. Not only does the game attempt to sell you crates for parts, it also charges you Bux, another premium currency to open those crates. Stockyards likewise are next to useless until upgraded with Bux. Lastly, trains need to refuel every few trips; another pointless timer and trains often break down, necessitating an expensive repair using your precious coins. Pocket Trains just has far too many ways to take money and really doesn’t provide that much fun in compensation.

This IAP fest is alleviated somewhat by the rather large amount of free Bux you can earn. Occasionally you’ll see jobs with a price in Bux rather than coins. Get them to their destination and you’ll earn a few. This isn’t remotely enough to buy everything you need to however.

Pocket Trains is a decent take on transport management with a fair bit of depth and it can be fun to reason out how to run your trains most effectively, but unfortunately the vast sea of unavoidable IAP and the game’s repetitiveness really put a damper on any fun faster than a speeding locomotive.

Big Win Basketball Review

Big Win Basketball Review

Dec 26, 2012

Hothead Games is no stranger to simulated sports management games, and Big Win Basketball mostly delivers a similar type of experience to its Hothead’s stable mates. It allowed me, as a coach/manager, to develop a team worthy of winning basketball glory in multiplayer leagues.

The game had a retro feel to it; graphics-wise; it had me hearkening back to arcade 2v2 basketball. The graphics were relatively smooth though, and I could clearly make out the plays as the players milled around the court. The colors were fairly well defined without being distracting, and the basketball court looked like a basketball court, with good artistic perspective.

To start off, I got a starter pack of five players and some impact cards. The impact cards were used during the game. One impact cards, for instance, was a “swatter” which b-ball heads will guess correctly as a sort of upgrade to block shots. I also got some game coins, and could supplement that by opening the app daily and also by playing games. These coins could be used to procure extra stuff like better players, uniforms, power-ups and more.

The gameplay was fairly rudimentary; prior to the game, I did what was necessary to put the best team on the floor. I could improve my players by playing short games, which served to identify stuff I could improve with coins.

I had the option of watching a game; this was similar to playing a console version of basketball and allowing the computer to play itself on my behalf. I admittedly found this to be fairly entertaining, as the simulated players did some nice things. There were drives, high pick and rolls, slashing to the basket, dunks blocks, steals and more. Late in the game and down a few points, the game engine continually fouled me to put me at the line, and stop the clock. Interestingly, this tried and true coaching strategy almost worked.

I found this game to be surprisingly engaging. As a sports gamer back in the day, I would have loved more organic gameplay, but I sorta dig the developers vision. In the end, it is definitely worth trying.