Motorsports Manager takes the Checkered Flag

Five laps to go. Your main driver is in the lead, but his engine is sounding a bit dodgy, his telemetry is off, and he’s got to shepherd his fuel to the finish line, while your other driver is in second, but wants to move up, and may not obey your team orders because HE wants the title. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?It’s dilemmas like this that make or break a game, and Motorsport Manager from Playsport Games and Sega (yes, the folks who release ultimate time filler Football Manager do another manager game to steal my time) has made the leap from mobile to PC and done so seamlessly.

There’s a reason that in the late stages of a race, the cameras focus almost as much on the team owners and crew chiefs as the drivers and that’s because the moves that they make in the off season (and during the week) that’s just as important, if not more to winning the title then having the absolute best driver. After all, even Willie Shoemaker couldn’t get Mr Ed to beat Secretariat. (Ok, I’ve exposed my age in that reference like three different ways).

Working the financial side, hiring the best car designers and mechanics out there, making calculated gambles with sponsors (there are sponsors who will pay you a race bonus, but only if you meet their race position bonus, for example, $650,000 for a finish of 6th or better)., and constantly improving your car is always important. Just as important however, is socking away cash for next year’s base vehicle, because small changes in rules can have a big carryover effect, and old-tech is the kiss of doom in modern motorsport. Not only does technology continually update, but the rules themselves can constantly change, and you can be part of that in Motorsport Manager, as each of the three series vote on rule changes during the year (for example, changing the point scoring system to reward victories over everything else, or allow bigger fuel tanks to provide more racing action and less pit stops). You’ll be voting for those based on how they affect your team (for example, if you constantly finish midtable, you probably want a scoring system that doesn’t only give scoring points to the top six, for example).

The race experience is just as important, as you need to find the right setup, and work with your drivers to find a winning race strategy. You won’t be telling them when and how to execute passes, for example, but you will suggest a tire and fuel strategy, and hope they get everything right. And it’s your call during the race when they come in for pit stops. In the lower ranks, you only have one pit crew for both your drivers, so you can’t bring them in both at the same time, or one will be twiddling their thumbs while the other one gets fixed up first. And it’s not just fuel and tires you have to worry about, either, as parts can wear out and get damaged (new parts have to be worked on to increase their reliability especially), and you have to make the tough decisions, do you risk someone who’s in the lead blowing an engine and losing all the points or do you call them in, knowing it will probably cost you a race win but at least keep the sponsors semi-happy and get you some points?

And especially for any folks who follow motorsports a lot will tell you, if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.. you can affix items that may not strictly comply with the rules for your competition, but if the governing body finds out, you risk a fine and being penalized a number of places (not to mention the expensive part you built being banned and useless to you). It’s a balancing act. Is the bonus that it provides better than the risk of being caught?

The graphics are sharp and clean, the weather effects are noticeable the sound is decent (very techno-ish music and appropriate engine sounds), and your drivers will speak up at the requisite times if you’re screwing up (like, say, the track is getting a soaking and you’re leaving them out there on their default tires).

In short,  Playsport has taken a fun but limited game on mobile and taken advantage of the benefits of moving to PC and made a really good game. I wish it had more American modes other then the three Grand Prix modes, but for those of you who like cars that do more than turn left, you’ll love this.

An8BitMind Gives Motorsport Manager: 88/100