We all love to race, and love to be witness to a good race as well. Three times a year, the entire country watches a gaggle of horses sprint in an oval shape like it’s the first contact with aliens, and despite the fact we’re all just watching a coven of playboy millionaires dress up, get drunk, and run the living hell out of an animal, we all get a thrill out of it, and viewership increases annually.
As a video game reviewer, I don’t see owning a racehorse in my future, and I’m also unable to see myself being the manager of a major motorsports team anytime soon either. Fortunately, my status as a video game reviewer does give me the opportunity to enjoy Motorsport Manager, which beautifully combines excitement of the rat race and the thrill of watching a race unfold to make a wonderful experience a virtual reality.
Motorsport Manager is a sports simulator, akin to the other “major” sports simulators. Something that sets this game apart from the competition, however, is an emphasis on the “in-race” action as opposed to planning between events. This game feels more like a halfway meeting point between a true racing game and simulator, where you make the decisions of speed, strategy in the corners, pitting, and repairs as well.
First comes manager creation, and this is pretty simple and straightforward. You create a head likeness, name, and birthplace, and get right into choosing the team you want to start with. The team selection is also a choice in difficulty, as each team has different strengths and weaknesses, as well as expectations at the finish.
The races are pretty lengthy endeavors, and you have to make smart decisions for your drivers to keep them competitive. The game has dynamic weather and racing conditions, and you have to be ready and willing to make wish changes as these obstacles show themselves. A timely pit stop can close a gap and a bad pit stop can create a hole you’ll never climb out of.
Drivers will give you feedback throughout the race on what they feel is working and not working, as well as anything that seems to need repair. They can also make demands which you can choose to meet or ignore.
After each race you are given a bevy of information and methods to set up the racers and the cars for the next race. You can also view information for races and standings in your chosen division. Everything is clearly laid out and easy to view and read. I like the way the menu spreads across the bottom of the screen, and a tutorial takes you through almost everything within the first few moments after your first race.
The in-race commands are all very easy to learn and use as well, and I was able to get the full swing of things after just a few tries. The realistic nature of fuel and tire use is something to be appreciated, and unlike most racing games where pitting isn’t emphasized, this game puts you through multiple needs to pit, and that alone is a nice difference and positive over other racing games of any kind.
You have three different divisions you can choose to race in, with each providing a different level of action, difficulty, and expectations. Uniquely, this game also provides a quick race mode where you can just jump into a single race and enjoy some quick action. Sports simulation is almost always focused on the long run, but I actually think this is a great way to get used to game and also a nice way to practice different tracks without affecting your “career.”
The in-race graphics are much better than I’d expect, and this was at the most basic level. At their most intense, you’ll have some nice looking races to watch as you play, but for those with basic rigs like myself have something worth watching as well, and that is much appreciated.