Motorsport Manager Mobile 2 Review: On the Podium
In the year since I reviewed Motorsport Manager on mobile, Christian West went from mobile game development star to management sim superstar. He’s now the founder of PlaySport Games which developed and released Motorsport Manager on PC and used that as the basis for the new Motorsport Manager 2.
If you played the original Motorsport Manager on mobile, there isn’t too much new for you to get used to apart from a shinier coat of paint and a lot more depth in the off-track aspects of running a team and a little more info presented while on-track.
It’s laid out the same way as the original in that you have to take a new racing team and carry it from the lowest series to the pinnacle of motorsport. To do so, you must hire drivers and engineers to get your cars up to speed, build or buy new parts for your cars and upgrade your headquarters to boost your team’s capabilities.
Compared to the original mobile game, PlaySport has streamlined the experience by giving you only three series to race through as opposed to multiple tiers of competition with multiple series for each tier. The streamlining comes at the expense of there being only 16 tracks in the game though each venue has multiple layouts and the track environments are effectively ported over from the PC game.
Speaking of ported over from the PC, there are a lot of the complex systems that have been brought into the mobile sequel. The game now has a branching headquarters upgrade system. Parts upgrades aren’t tied to per race spending on staff but on spending to build (or buy) a new upgrade but the built upgrades depend on engineers hired and a little RNG.
Not everything is as complex as the PC version. Car setups are a little more complex than the original mobile version with five downforce settings and three gear settings rather than three and three. The PC release has sliders for front wing downforce, rear wing downforce, gearing, and suspension stiffness. So while setup has been simplified, the feedback that you got for setups are also gone. Practice sessions are also gone. Changing calendars and rules have been dropped from the mobile version. You can change that last piece by dropping $9.49 (in Canadian pesos) on the Game Editor “microtransaction” on top of the $6.49 CAD price tag.
The best way to sum up the difference between MM Mobile 1, Mobile 2 and PC is that PC is a proper management sim that’s similar to the Football Manager series but dialed down from 10 to about 5. On that scale, Mobile 1 is about a 1 and Mobile 2 is about 2.5. That doesn’t mean that the Motorsport Manager games are bad compared to FM but just a lot less complex and more user-friendly. I’d rather that MM PC is closer to Football Manager in complexity but I won’t lose sleep over it either. So while MMM2 is more complex than MMM1, I wouldn’t say that it’s any less pick up and play.
I’ve danced around the actual gameplay at this point so let’s address that. You don’t actually drive the cars. You select the setup for each car, determine their fuel and/or tyre strategy, tell drivers how much to push the car on tyres and/or fuel and select when to pit and what do in said pit stops.
Similar to the first game, I found that only the weather could really result in your race strategy improving your race result. Barring an excellent call to/from wets or slicks, I found it nearly impossible to win a race through strategy. You can easily lose a race through strategy and you can certainly gain a couple of spots through the undercut (pitting earlier than your competitor so you get in a quick lap on fresh tyres while lap slower on old tyres) but a jump from 5th on the grid to 1st never seems to happen during a dry race.
So the race is really won and lost in the headquarters menu outside of the race weekends. You can hire drivers through a simple negotiation mode that is a little too simple because results from an offer are shown on a slider that ranges from unhappy to happy with signing happening at an arbitrary point in the middle. There’s no feedback as to what a driver is looking for which I believe is a downgrade from the original so you’re just guessing as to how to sign a driver.
As mentioned earlier in the review, you can upgrade your headquarters, build new parts for your car and hire engineers for your team. Various HQ upgrades will provide driver performance bonuses, unlock new areas for car development and improve sponsor relations. Engineers give a boost in race performance and increase the stats on parts you build. Obviously, new parts generally improve your car though there is a little RNG that results in a part’s stats not being exactly what you were looking for. Sometimes that works out in your favour and sometimes you have to scrap the part and take the refund.
Unfortunately, two of the key aspects of the car are functionally out of your control. Your cars’ tyre wear and fuel consumption are determined at the start of the season based on your investment in the next year’s car during the previous season. You can invest in development in your next year’s cars from the midpoint of the season. Your engineers and a monetary investment determine the performance of the car but you can’t allocate development effort into speed, reliability, tyre wear and fuel consumption. As a result, you can have a fast car but it’s not so good on the tyre wear which just decreases your speed because you need to run harder (slower) compounds, make more pit stops or slow down to go easy on the tyres.
Given that your only method of progressing in a race is through pit strategy, you’re hampered when it comes to strategy options if the RNG doesn’t go your way. One season I ran in the top-tier series was scuttled from the start because my tyre wear was worse than the competition’s. Despite the fact that my cars were ranked third on the grid, I was fighting for the last points positions because I had to build my strategy around a tyre wear factor that is always outside of my control. For something so critical to be left solely to RNG is a massive oversight on the devs parts and I wouldn’t argue with you if you suggested that it severely worsened the game for you.
By the way, the graphics are fine. They’re an upgrade from the original game and a little downgrade from the PC version. Like the original mobile version, the cars are represented by coloured circles rather than car models as was the case in the PC version. However, the track models have more in common with the PC version than the original mobile game. Unfortunately, that also means that there are fewer locations since the track environments seem to be something of a port of the PC version which has far fewer tracks and track locations than the MM Mobile 1.
The major graphical change from the original mobile game is the interface. While not a carbon copy of the PC version, Mobile 2 borrows a lot of elements and info from the PC version including info on competitors’ tire wear and pit strategy, a lap tracker in qualifying so you can see the impact of setup changes and various out of race menus and charts that help you track your team’s competitiveness against the opposition.
It might sound like I’m being harsh on Motorsport Manager Mobile 2 but that’s because there’s potential for this to be among the greatest motorsport games of all-time. There are a few steps that can be taken to push it over the top but it is certainly a game that you could put in the shortlist for best mobile game of 2017. It’ll definitely be on best mobile sports games of 2017 list.
For motorsport fans and especially open-wheel or road course racing fans, this is damn well near a must-buy game. Most people play racing games wanting to be Michael Schumacher but I’m sure Jean Todt doesn’t mind a game that shows how important his role was in helping Michael win five of his World Drivers’ Championships.
Motorsport Manager Mobile 2 was reviewed on Android but is also available for iOS. Your impressions of the game may differ depending on platform played on, device played on and whether you think that Fernando is faster than you and if you understand the message.