SHORT REVIEW: PC VERSION
You prepare the cars, race the cars, and sing the cars theme tune.
Have you ever wanted to experience the giddy thrill of the motorsport management? No…No… Not the cool driving bit, the sitting in the office bit. I’ve no interest in car sports and even less interest in the management side of things. So we bellow from the rooftops, “why am I playing this game and will it send me full Ecclestone?”
That was it for car-themed references, we won’t try that again.
I have failed at being a race manager more times than I care to mention. I’ve pulled cars into the pitlane at the same time, run out of fuel and made wild unjust gambles with tire selections, that rarely paid off. I proudly proclaimed myself race leader in a lowly unfashionable team with potential, in the third and lowest league, not in any way related to real-life F1 according to my lawyers. My great mission was to prosper and take over the racing world. Or grow a fine moustache.
So how do you attempt such a thing? Thankfully it’s not as daunting as you would think, as all required information is clear, concise, and dare I say, simplistic. If there is an award for UI alone, Motorsport Manager deserves it. Because of this, you won’t need a degree in engineering, which might disappoint the hardcore racing fan looking for his next fuel injection.
For the race-uninitiated, or those wishing for a jolly and clear experience, this makes for an ideal computer game.
You build a crack team, build shiny new parts for your shiny old car, and desperately attempt to woo lucrative sponsors. You can hire drivers, engineers and lead designers that truly differ from one another, each with their own skills, as you attempt to steadily improve across all areas. Ya know, like every management game. All aspects of the system compliment each other neatly, and you are never at a loss as to what to do next. Decisions range from scouting talent, voting to change the rules of the league, to even fitting illegal parts to your cars, you scallywag. The choice really is yours…
Top tip – Remember to fix-up those sexy new parts you’ve just created, they generally come out half broken.
… None more-so than on race day. You proudly cobble bits of car together, before sending your drivers out to practice. Now I’ve played enough games in my life to know how to skip practice, but with Motorsport Manager this is your chance to tweak each car with the right setup for each race. You can change gear ratios, downforce and the like, with handy sliders, as your drivers provide car feedback out on the track. Well… they would if they were any bloody good at providing feedback. Bloody hell, I need better drivers…
You can tell already this game’s bloody addictive. I’m talking about practice day.
… Speaking of which, drivers have personality quirks, which amount to a couple of benefits or not. Much has been made of the managing of driver egos, but in action this is mostly underplayed. Do you chew the driver out for nattering on his phone or annoy your engineer by dismissing his valid complaint? Usually the choice usually results in a loss of money, morale or a change in personalty. Every now and then a major issue could arise that might result in a total team rethink, but as you’re only dealing with a handful of staff this never becomes overly taxing, and is usually a mere inconvenience.
Qualification and race day is the pay-off to your months planning, but like all management games you’re likely to mutter angrily as your driver flies off the track at lap 2. You work out how much fuel to chuck in, what tires to fit and how hard to push the cars. It doesn’t take long before you begin to figure out what you should and shouldn’t do. Bloody pitstops. Of course, this initial period of experimentation will result in a few tremendous cock-ups, but after getting through this embedding period, it all comes together like you’re a bloody mastermind. Soon you’ll be compensating your tactics for weather and car issues. Or reloading the entire month due to your fragile ego. Let’s not talk about the start of the next season, when you get to scrap the old car to build anew. This isn’t a comfortable game, where you can rest of your laurels.
Top tip – After concluding a race the game automatically saves. This should be your get out clause. Seriously, turn it off, because if you don’t, that’s a another hour invested in the next race. Why do you think I haven’t written much around here?
After a while the games pattern reveals itself to you; all games have them. You recognise when certain things are due to happen. One of the aforementioned driver events might kick off, generally around the same time each month. The events themselves are random, but seeing through the design does remind you these are merely algorithms. How special can a special event be, when you’ve got the heads up. Oh, it is important to note that this kind of insight, only comes after blinking into a monitor for days at end. You can’t argue that you didn’t get your monies worth, before your eyes cut through the code and you become one with Motorsport Manager.
Further minor annoyances tip their hat to you. You can’t negotiate future end-of-contracts with drivers and staff, which crushes future schemes. I didn’t want to cancel the previous drivers contract, I just want to have a replacement ready! My driver lost his front wing pulling into the pits and I couldn’t patch it up, because no-one thought to give us the ability to change our mind in the pits. I could go on. At first you shrug off such petty concerns, but the great addiction takes hold and each minor quibble becomes moreso. You could argue the game’s a victim of its very fine design, as the blemishes stick out.
It might seem odd to speak about the games looks at the end of the review, but when you’re dealing with such a game, graphical treats are an unexpected bonus. Although simple, Motorsport Manager is strangely attractive, as I appreciate all the little track details and excellent use of colour in the menus. It does reminds me of my favoured games from the past. Oh, I would have loved to have played Sensible Racecar. Saying that, the races themselves could do with a little more visual excitement, and I’m not talking about burnout style crashes. A little on-track drama would be appreciated. You can play this game without sound, which is perfect for the upmarket vehicle manager who enjoys a lil’ trash tv on the side. If you did want to bask in car revving sounds, I can confirm they do indeed go vroom. Due to the length of time you’ll be playing, it might be wise to stick to your own musical collection.
Motorsports Manager has its design roots in mobile gaming, which is the games biggest strength and weakness. Instantly accessible with a tinge of the shallow for long term play.
It is a fantastic game and will take some work on your behalf before you peek behind the curtain and the magic’s gently dispelled.
I’ll continue to let this game eat into my precious time, as Motorsport Manager strikes the right balance simulation and game, but is held back by a lack of additional intrigue and the truly surprising.
Let’s hope the next addition builds upon an excellent and cripplingly addictive foundation, and it isn’t churned out to exploit the earned goodwill.
Why look everyone, it’s Mr Game Reference! What do you have today Mr Game Reference?
Other Game Reference Corner – *Jingle here*, you’ll have to imagine it
” It reminds me of when that Football manager had the perfect balance between simulation and game, it does.”
You wan’t more?
“It’s a bit like that Game Dev Story, but with cars.”
Ok, I’m done.