Review: Motorsport Manager Mobile 324 Jul 2018 2
Review: Motorsport Manager Mobile 3
Released 19 Jul 2018
Racing drivers are notoriously difficult to work with. Their competitive personalities make them act like divas from time to time; while jealousy bubbles under the surface as teammates receive upgraded parts or preferential treatment. Losing hurts, but they hone their craft through driving practice as well as the team of mechanics and engineers constantly tweaking the cars. Winning is everything: without it, the money doesn’t flow, and this means everything suffers – from logistics, to R&D, even the coffee. It doesn’t all come down to the time on the clock or the position on the starting grid.
All of this requires a fine balance, and Playsport Games’ Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 includes every tiny detail you can imagine and a lot that you didn’t consider.
The journey to leading a racing team starts with personalising the brand, from the look of the avatar who represents the team, to the colours on the cars. A micro-transaction upgrades the game so that everything can be edited, recreating any year from any racing series you could choose by personalising names and teams, not just your own. The initial screen feels a little overwhelming to begin with, but the tutorials work hard to break down barriers.
The home screen is overflowing with sections which break down into further menus or sprawling maps which dictate the path of upgrades possible in the career. The HQ has three separate sections, for drivers, finance and research, all of which can be upgraded by investing cash and waiting a set number of races. This is also seen in logistics which determines how quickly you can move parts and cars around the world, offering bonuses to stats for controlling more warehouses or depots. At first, this idea seems more complicated than it needs to be, but it does really come down to tapping nodes that you believe will benefit your team in the long run.
You can also manage your drivers, allocating points earned from XP gained in races into traits making them better at certain things. Overtaking, defending on track, braking later into corners or even steady their focus to stop them from crashing as much. Sponsors are sought out for finances to trickle in and they supply not just money, but also influence, which can be spent on stealing ideas from other teams or sending your drivers on fan tours or PR courses to give the appearance of your brand a boost.
There’s a section for managing engineers who design new parts for the cars and mechanics who advise drivers during the races. Later in the game you can nurture young drivers or invest in the car for the following year. Seeing all of this, feels like being hit by a tidal wave of information, but it gets drip fed steadily over time allowing for new options to feel less obscure and more second nature. Bold tutorial screens accompany each new feature and help is always on hand via question mark buttons in each section.
The first season does feel like the developers have left the training wheels on – money seems plentiful, sponsors are kind enough to offer large sign-on bonuses which fund building new front wings for the single seater formulas or new brakes and spoilers for sports car races. As the game progresses, drivers demand more; showing jealousy if you offer a new part to a teammate instead of them and with this their performance on track will suffer. Contracts will expire and require careful negotiating so as not to test a driver’s patience – represented by two hands nearing closer to shaking as you choose signing fees, length of contract etc…
The small details of running the team are plentiful and should you choose, you could spend hours planning the best upgrade paths to benefit the team or scout new drivers and staff members who will design the best components for your cars. Over time, as your career lengthens, options will be offered to change formulas which all have different rules (these can be voted on using influence, too) and will tax your tactics during the races themselves, be it through refuelling mid-race or using Energy Recovery Systems and hybrid engines.
Which brings us to the actual racing. The different series vary in length of races and set up. Single seater plays more like a Formula One system, sports cars and endurance formulas require different thinking. The race overview shows the track, with the cars zipping around in a clear view, differentiated by colour and number, so your team sticks out. The lap times sit on the left side of the screen, showing which tyres everyone is using and how they’re deteriorating. The right side is dedicated to your drivers, allowing you to pit them when you feel best within the race, change their driving style, impacting wear on the tyres or the engine power which either guzzles or conserves fuel.
While you can’t quite get into the tiny details of driving, you can sway outcomes by pitting early and undercutting other teams or choosing different tyres which may allow for longer stints on track. Every second of the racing is tense as you watch the tyres degrade and wonder whether to pull in your driver or leave them out for longer. The car slowly wears down, too, which is like watching a ticking time bomb. The closer it gets to zero will mean either a crash or a retirement.
The most interesting aspect of racing is qualifying, where you’ll be setting up the car for the weekend. This is done by choosing cards and using up spanners on your mechanics gauge. You could choose a card that takes up 1-6 spanners or even 1-16, the result is random and might mean it takes up none of the gauge but still delivers a boost in car setup. But gambling too much might see all of the spanners used as you try for a big tweak leading to disaster and hindering your car more than anything else. It’s an interesting system that leaves a lot up to chance and certainly gamifies an aspect of play.
All of these details add up to a great experience that authentically replicates the life of a team principal. There’s stress when the cars break down or money becomes scarce after heavy investments and there’s pride when your set up cards boost the car to land you a one-two on the starting grid. A game made up of so many small decisions and menus allows for a surprising amount of excitement. Watching those small dots speed around the screen may not give the surge of pleasure a standard racing game would, but watching your team secure a win, leading to a championship is genuinely wonderful.