Sports Game of the Year 2014

By Owen Faraday 10 Dec 2014 0
Chariots of fire. Chariots of fire.

Is the winner of this year's Sports Game of the Year (which lacks balls, bats, or performance-enhancing drugs) even a sports game? Owen thinks so, but Owen also thinks that The Happening was a pretty under-rated movie and that Ringo was the best Beatle.

But whatever arbitrary category you want to put this game into -- it's a veritable circus of delights.

Circus of delights, amirite? [high-five] Circus of delights, amirite? [high-five]
Slitherine --that most venerable of computer wargame publishers-- making sports games? Maybe next year they'll publish Hello Kitty Bivouac Adventure. Or Tojo Teaches Typing.

But yes -- what is Qvadriga if not a sports management sim? You're the boss of a chariot racing team in ancient Rome: buy and sell horses, chariots, and slaves to drive them -- then decide on a race strategy that games your team to the finish line of the turn-based sprints in one piece.

Notice that I didn't say "winning race strategy". Qvadriga is quite possibly the most unsentimentally brutal game I've played all year. A typical chariot race involves collisions, runaway horses, disintegrating chariots, and a handful of homicides. Think about winning the race all you like, but the smart Qvadriga boss is mostly focussed on surviving. It's a tactically intricate game with dozens of in-race decisions to make and equally interesting choices about how to equip your team in-between contests.

This is not a pretty game, and the UI requires some getting used to -- although the biggest foibles have been amended in the weeks since the game launched. Between the moderate learning curve and the whipcrack difficulty, not everybody will go in for what Qvadriga's got to offer. But I've talked to very few people who merely like Qvadriga -- the fans are all diehards, and that includes a good chunk of the PT staff.

With its focus on deep substance over flash and style, Qvadriga is as different from Sports GOTY Runner-up Motorsport Manager as any two racing games could be, but just as worthwhile to learn and decidedly more replayable.

Runner-up: Motorsport Manager

Honourable Mention: Football Manager Handheld 2015, Pro Strategy Football 2014, iOOTP Baseball 14


To see all of the games recognised in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2014 Awards, visit the 2014 Awards Index page.
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