Sports Game of the Year 2014 Runner-up: Motorsport Manager10 Dec 2014 0
Most of our familiar sports management franchises on mobile were treading water this year: Football Manager Handheld, iOOTP Baseball, and Pro Strategy Football's new editions were all plenty good -- but they were incrementally better than last year's installments.
So it's the new game that steals the spotlight. I adored Motorsport Manager when it landed on my iPad at the end of the summer. I gave the racing sim one of the few 5 out of 5 scores we handed out this year when I reviewed it, and although it didn't prove to have the sort of replayability of say, iOOTP, I still love it. It's such a promising start from one-man dev team Christian West that it runs laps around everything else going.
Motorsport Manager makes one hell of a first impression. Like Hitman GO (that other Instagram-generation game we loved so much this year), MM makes liberal use of tilt-shift camera tomfoolery. But unlike Hitman, which used those effects to highlight a lavish art budget, Motorsport Manager uses tilt-shift to turn what would otherwise be an unimpressive collection of primitive shapes into a high-stakes Grand Prix weekend. It might not be hugely impressive in screenshots, but once you've seen them in motion West's cars (Rust Cohle's flat circles) and grandstands (flat-shaded Duplo blocks) come to life.
My first few race seasons with MM were some of the most thrilling hours I spent with a sports sim in years. West's racing model really gets into the meat of auto racing strategy, and using a smart race plan to pull out a win against a team with faster cars is hugely gratifying. This is also the least intimidating sports game in years: it manages to be a satisfying serious simulation that's also breezily simple to get into.
The game world built around the races is less brilliant: after a few seasons you start to really find the edges of the fourth wall -- like when you realise that all of the opposing teams are re-generated from scratch every season, and that your choices about car research aren't as weighty as you might have been led to believe. But the racing at the core is so delightful that it's easy to forgive -- and hugely tempting to hope that West is just getting warmed up.
To see all of the games recognised in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2014 Awards, visit the 2014 Awards Index page.