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Game Info:

Motorsport Manager
Developed by: Playsport Games
Published by: Sega (PC)
Release Date: November 9, 2016 (Windows) November 23, 2016 (Linux)
Available on: iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows PC, Linux PC
Genre: Simulator
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: E
Price: $34.99 
(Humble Store Link)

Do you enjoy the feel of ripping down the racetrack in a pack of aggressive drivers at 180 miles per hour?  Do you love the thrill of dueling for first place?  Have you loved race car driving games since you were a small child?  If so, then this game isn't for you.  On the other hand, if you like making strategic decisions during a race, like which tires to put on the car at the next pit stop or how much to tweak the suspension based on driver feedback, then this is your game.  Motorsport Manager is a management simulator where the player takes on the role of manager of an international Formula One racing team.

There are two main modes of gameplay.  The first is where all the racing team management happens.  This is where the player manages personnel, car maintenance and upgrades, corporate sponsors and racing league politics.  I must admit a lot of the things a team manager deals with in this game is stuff that had never occurred to me.  You start off choosing an International racing team to manage, each with a different amount of starting money and prestige.  As the manager, you decide which corporate sponsors to sign contracts with based on the base amount of money, length of the contract and bonuses for good performance in the race.  You have to scout out new team members to replace under-performing members of your team and that doesn't just include drivers.  It also includes the mechanic for each car and the technical team leader.  You not only have to consider the various skills of the prospective new hire but also the chemistry between teammates.  A driver who gets along well with the mechanic will get bonuses during the race.  Mind you, when you send an offer of employment to a prospective new hire they may or may not accept it based on their own expectations and how much in demand they may be.

On top of that, you manage the cars themselves, directing your technical team to upgrade components which, depending on exactly how it's done, may risk being caught in a racing rules violation.  As if that weren't enough to keep track of, the driver of each car is going to have an opinion about the upgrades you put on the car.  Keeping the drivers happy is important!  

Still not enough to keep track of?  Not to worry.  You manage the physical facilities the racing team uses as its headquarters and build new buildings or upgrade old ones as needed.  Of course, these things take vast amounts of money so your team had better have good contracts with your sponsors!  The game has a simulated social media feed giving you a sense of public opinion about your team and its performance, and of course there's always the team owner's happiness to consider, or your job security may be at risk...

Motorsport Manager
Highlights:

Strong Points: Plenty to do, highly detailed 
Weak Points: The cars are the centerpiece of racing, but we don't get to see them race up close
Moral Warnings: Mild Language

There's even a section for racing league politics.  A new rule is proposed to make a change to one of the race tracks.  Do you vote for or against?  Maybe you abstain for now so you have greater voting power later.  The choice is yours, and based on the strengths and weaknesses of your team.  If your drivers are strong in the low speed, tight turns then a change to a track that adds a new curve might be to your benefit.  Not so much if your cars perform poorly at low speeds, however. 

The second mode is race mode, where the player assumes real-time control of the racing team on race day.  The team fields two cars in each race, and each is managed separately.  This is where the player decides what kinds of tires to put on each car during each pit stop, maintenance to be performed on the cars and the strategies the driver should use.  It starts with practice laps, which are optional but well worth doing to fine tune the car's mechanical settings.  Based on driver feedback, you can adjust things like the angle of the front and rear wings, the stiffness of the suspension and transmission gearing.  If the driver complains that the car handles poorly at high speeds you can make adjustments to correct it to his or her preferences.  The two cars are tuned separately, because each driver has a different set of preferences and skills. 

Then, there's the qualifier and the race.  There's one last opportunity to tune the car and choose the tires before the race begins, and there's plenty to do.  As the manager, you keep an eye on the weather so you can make choices about tires in upcoming pit stops.  Even if the weather is dry, do you use soft tires which last longer but aren't quite as fast, or do you push the car's speed with even softer tires for the extra speed, knowing they won't last as long?  How much fuel do you add in the pit?  Do you want to make any repairs to the car while it's there?  Every decision you make affects how long the car is in the pit stop.  Push the pit crew too hard and they might make a mistake, costing even more time.  

It isn't just the pit crew that can be pushed too hard.  If your driver is told to drive aggressively, the car will take more severe wear and tear requiring more pit stop time.  Should the driver be more conservative to save fuel, or would you rather have them push hard for a few laps to try to gain a lead?  Should the driver be aggressive and take risks to get ahead during the slower turns, knowing this will wear down the tires and suspension faster, or should they hang back a bit and outlast the cars in front of them that may need to pit soon?  All of this and you're making decisions for two cars in the race, not just one.  This is a racing team, and you can have the cars help each other as well.  

The game is controlled entirely with menus and buttons.  Since the player doesn't actually drive the cars the only input device needed is the mouse.  During the race the player can control the camera to allow the track to be seen from multiple angles.  There's also a zoom feature but the difference between fully zoomed in and fully zoomed out isn't much at all.  Even when zoomed in to the maximum, details of the cars still aren't visible, and when zoomed out to the maximum amount the entire track isn't visible.  It just feels like a feature that's only there because people expect it to be, but isn't really that useful.  

Races can be long.  Very long.  Time can be sped up if things are happening too slowly (which is a strange problem in a racing game) but even at max speed the race is going to take at least a half hour or so.  That's fine with me, since I wouldn't set it much faster than that even if I could because there's plenty to do and keep track of.  With the physical condition of two cars, watching the weather and making real time decisions about how aggressive the drivers should be, it's hard to be idle. 

This game has no multiplayer mode, which is a shame because the potential is there to let players pit their championship racing teams against each other.

Motorsport Manager
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 92%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The graphics in the management section consist mostly of menus, which are clear and easy to read.  There's also a distinctly technical feel to them which I liked.  In race mode, the actual track and the cars are visible.  Buildings are rendered as 3D objects in the world.  The cars are also 3D objects but are only visible from a distance. Again, even when zoomed in as much as possible it's difficult to see details on the cars at all, and the only thing to distinguish the cars from each other is the body color.  I suppose the 3D buildings are gobbling so much of the GPU's power that to zoom in very close to the cars would really hurt the frame rate, but I feel like it would have been worth it to trade off a little more of the environment to get a better view of the focus of the game: The cars.  Maybe I'm a little more disappointed by this than I ought to be, but I got into this game in the first place because the little boy in me just loves to watch F1 cars zoom around a racetrack up close.

I did like that as the race progresses, the track looks less and less clean as the cars leave rubber on the track from the tires.  I also like that when it rains,  the view is slightly distorted as if rain drops were hitting the "camera lens."  It's very subtle so that it's still easy to see what's happening, but it looks great.  These effects add a good bit of realism to the experience.

The sound effects are adequate if not particularly memorable.  Get used to the sound of race car engines, as that's really the centerpiece.  I'm not completely sure but I think the sound does change somewhat as the engines sustain wear and tear during a race, but it's subtle and may just be my imagination.  When drivers send radio messages from the track it sounds like a generic static garbled message.  It's not meant to be understood.  Instead the text is displayed on screen when the driver speaks.  I can understand why they did it; unless the developers got a ton of voice actors to provide a wide variety of voices, every driver would just sound the same anyway and this approach seems to be a reasonable compromise.  Still, it makes the game feel like it has less production value.

The game didn't have any crashes or issues on my HP gaming laptop with Windows 7. The frame rate was somewhat low during races and my graphics card isn't very old.  The only big drain I can see would be from the 3D environment, unless the 3D models of the cars are far more detailed than it seems.  Load times are decent and the audio remained smooth throughout.

This game is free from moral issues for the most part, though a player can have the chief designer modify the car in such a way as to potentially break the racing league rules. Radio messages from drivers (displayed as text) sometimes contain mild profanity when they're frustrated during a race, but nothing one wouldn't hear on regular broadcast television.  It's refreshing to play a game where nobody's getting killed.  Cars do occasionally crash, but I have yet to see a fatal one.

I like this game a lot.  It's very detailed, so I think it'll be a lot more fun after I get over the learning curve and start to really feel like I know what I'm doing, and I'm eager to get there.  I highly recommend it for any die hard fan of racing as a sport, but not for those who like more action oriented racing games.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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