Sports Game of the Year 2013

By Owen Faraday 09 Dec 2013 0
A contender. A contender.


Our Sports Game of the Year for 2013 is a game that was calved from a storied gaming franchise -- but had never managed to live up to the name it had inherited. Until now.



If only I were as organised in real life as I am in Football Manager. If only I were as organised in real life as I am in Football Manager.


On the PC, Football Manager is the king of sports management simulations. Four years ago it buried its evil, slightly misshapen twin Championship Manager, and just this year it chased off well-heeled newcomer FIFA Manager. On the desktop, Football Manager enjoys the sort of easy, unchallenged supremacy enjoyed by Google Search and Robert Byrd. But mobile is a different matter.

Previous iterations of Football Manager Handheld were held back by their UIs. The games had loads of depth and could essentially simulate most of the professional footballing world, tracking thousands of players and hundreds of teams in your universe -- but controlling that universe was a pain. Aping their bigger PC brothers as closely as possible, FMH games never truly felt like touchscreen games, they were just crudely substituting your finger for the mouse pointer.

FMH still sports the 2D match engine that desktop FM abandoned years ago -- but that's fine with me. FMH still sports the 2D match engine that desktop FM abandoned years ago -- but that's fine with me.


Finally, Football Manager Handheld 2014 changes that. For this edition Sports Interactive have redesigned the game's interface from the bottom up, and for the first time, it feels like a game built with a touchscreen in mind -- one that wilfully deviates from the desktop model. And what an improvement it is. On a player's card, you can swipe your finger to change from his season stats to his contract details. On the tactics screen you can neatly drag players to new positions. In a game that is basically (let's face it) Manly Spreadsheet Manager, having a responsive and context-sensitive UI is paramount. FMH still isn't Tom Cruise's computer from Minority Report, but it finally feels like it's moving in that direction.

Football Manager Handheld 2014 is possibly the most dangerous time sink on mobile. Entire plane trips and delayed commutes and boring conference calls fall helplessly into its maw. As you can with its PC brethren, you can lead a decades-long coaching career on FMH 14, but a lot the complexity has been streamlined out -- for the better, in my opinion. FMH removes many of the fiddly sliders from desktop FMs gone by that felt less like managing a professional football club and more cheating your way to Super Mario Bros warp zone. The result is a deep front office soccer simulation that is also easy to pick up and play.

This year's Football Manager Handheld is finally an equal partner to its PC sibling: the best sports sim on its platform. And it's even available for Android, too.

Runner-up: Pro Strategy Football 2013

Honorable Mention: iOOTP Baseball 2013Football Chairman

To see all the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2013 Awards, visit the awards index page.
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