Be warned, Football Manager Classic 2014(FMC) is a grower. It’s not as easy to love as the excellentFootball Manager Handheld (FMH) series, which has offered wannabe managers the chance to tinker with tactics and shout obscenities at a tiny screen on the commute for a number of years now.
But FMC does offer something more than FMH, which has stagnated in the past few years, offering incremental updates instead of true innovation. It’s just that, like all good relationships, takes a while to get to know and you’ll need to accept and understand its faults and quirks before you can truly appreciate it.
The Premier League was pretty late to launch an official application for its popular fantasy football game, but boy, is it making up for it now.
Its first app was released midway through the 2012-13 season, but shortly after the conclusion of that campaign, it stopped working. It of course released a new app for 2013-14, forcing players to pay again if they wanted an alternative to the mobile website.
So it should come as no surprise to iOS users they will have to stump up the cash, this time £1.49 (up from 69p) for the official application of the 2014-15 season.
Football Manager’slegendary player database is one of the reasons the series formerly known as Championship Manager has been such a success. It contains 250 pieces of footballing, contractual and personal information for more than 550,000 players and staff.
The first Championship Manager didn’t even have player names, but Sports Interactive’s (SI) research operations have evolved from an amateurish combination of Rothman’s Football Year Books and fanzine surveys to an army of more than 1,000 providing information on footballers around the globe.
When this extensive reservoir of information is plugged into Football Manager’s virtual football world and match engine, it becomes a pretty powerful tool in predicting which prospects are going to become global superstars.
Last year, Pixel Sportreviewed Football Chairman Lite(FC Lite) and praised its simple, accessible take on running a football club, and hoped that future iterations would build on what is a great idea with more depth and realism.
The best thing about the game was it was free, making it easy to dismiss many imperfections or faults while enjoying its rapid, ‘one-more match’ gameplay. But this is an excuse that the £2.99 full version of Football Chairman cannot hide behind, especially with the best part of another year in development.
Football Chairman is an improvement, but a very minor one and the core concept is as appealing as ever. However there’s no escaping that it’s not vastly superior to the free version that we enjoyed so much 12 months ago.
England fans might be disappointed with the national team’s early exit from Brazil but, for what it’s worth, our representatives fared better in the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC), which for the first time took place in the same country at the same time as the FIFA World Cup.
Twenty-year old David Bytheway from Wolverhampton was one of two Englishmen to make the final 20 of the 2014 FIWC, but there was a familiar tale of valiant defeat as his German team lost 3-1 to the Brazil side controlled by Denmark’s August Rosenmeier in the final.
The final itself was held overlooking Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Sugarloaf Mountain and was the culmination of a tournament which started late last year.
Some sports are more ideally suited to asynchronous multiplayer than others. Golf, snooker or rallying would appear to be ideal candidates, but contact sports like American football are not likely to be on the top of most people’s lists.
But by essentially reducing the sport of gridiron into a turn-based battle of wits, Your Turn Football succeeds in its aim. Your quarter-back is unlikely to summon Ifrit or unleash Thundara, but it’s a neat concept almost ruined by in-app purchases so cynical that they limit any meaningful progression.
Your Turn Football is multiplayer only and adheres to the basic structures of American football such as eleven players competing over four quarters, but offensive and defensive strategies are selected by each player before each turn begins.
How can he be so blind not to see the need for that brilliantly talented but totally unproven Brazilian forward that could prove the difference in your European charge? But then again, you might be a brilliant tactician with a keen eye for a player, but can you run a successful business?
Football Chairman puts you firmly on the other side of the fence, giving you the power to make such financial decisions in what is a crazily addictive simulator only soured ever so slightly by the limited implementation of its ideas.
The App Store isn’t exactly left wanting for football tactic themed line drawing games. Fluid Football and Score! World Goals are but two titles that have enjoyed success on iOS in recent times.
The Football Playbook is another game hoping to capitalise on the demand for touchscreen-based alternative football titles and hopes its retro visuals and tactics board gameplay will help it stand out from the crowd.
It comes packed with plenty of content and is easy on the eye, but it is more laborious to play and an example of how quantity does not always mean quality.
Whatever your views on the rampant commercialism or Twenty20 format of the Indian Premier League, there is no denying the spectacle of witnessing the world’s best players playing in some of cricket’s most famous and atmospheric grounds.
Stick CricketPremier League attempts to replicate this with a game that offers little in the way of gameplay improvements, but adds a new mode in which to play arguably the best cricket game for mobile devices.
You take control of a franchise based on one of the nine that compete in the actual IPL with the task of winning the league within five seasons. It doesn’t really matter which team you choose as you are given a set of default players, a bit like the Master League in Pro Evolution Soccer, so we chose the team with the nicest colour scheme, Pune.
Last month, we took a look at iOOTP Baseball 2013, a portable baseball management simulator whose unrivalled depth and customisation options made it must have for fans of the sport.
We even suggested that non-baseball fans might enjoy so long as they enjoyed number crunching. If that doesn’t sound like you, then not only should you not buy OOTP Baseball 2014, then you should probably stop reading this review.
For everyone else, keep on reading because OOTP is much more detailed in every conceivable way, offering one of the most in-depth simulators around. It’s unmistakably niche, but is unapologetic for it, offering what can only be described as a baseball geek’s dream.