Taking your team to the next level is the dream of any manager, and in Football Manager Handheld 2010 you get 11 countries to conquer. With a massive 34 leagues, and 20.000 players there is no shortage of player content. Other aspects such as arena management, and financial planning have been scaled down. Personally I think this is a good move as it lets me focus on the footie aspect of the game.
The presentation is all about numbers, stats and text. To many what is on display is about as boring as doing the taxes. And to some extent that is what it is all about. Getting the best combination of numbers onto the field. Most menu items are easy to see, and distinguish. Some aspects of the controls are fiddly such as managing substitutions. For most parts the controls is all about advancing the time, and continue the season. The matches can be viewed in a number of different ways: commentaries, pitch and zoomed. With commentaries you only get the match described in words. With pitch or zoomed the game shows highlights such as goals and corners. This is something that hasn’t changed much since the days I played Football Manager for the Commodore 64 back in the late 80s. It might seem poor, but when you get going during a season this limited graphical flair actually still manages to convey a sense of excitement. Less exciting are the loading screens that move about really slowly on the iPhone 3G. On the iPhone 4 there is still a lot of time spent watching loading screens, but it is not as bad.
There is no music in the game, and if you choose to have the minute clicks and clacks that constitute the sound effects your own music fades out upon startup. If in game sounds are turned off you can play your own music instead.
Soccer or football is quite fun to manage, and in this handheld iteration it is all about the game. The financial aspect is limited to hiring and selling players. The board of the club you manage decide the money you can offer new players. To help you recruit the players you need you have a scouting function. Putting together as good a team as possible is all about the numbers as I mentioned earlier. At times changing the strategy is needed when your best midfielder is injured, and you might opt for three attackers instead. It feels like the game really simulates the different strategies well, and replaying the same game using different strategies/lineups generate different outcomes.
One thing that differs slightly from the real world is the fact that the scoring is kept rather low. I have yet to loose by more than two goals, or win by more than three after several seasons of play. Not even when playing one of the cups with vast differences in team strength. Usually matches is won by the odd goal, and draws aren’t as usual either.
For some strange reason the game doesn’t make permanent saves by itself. This I noticed upon writing this here review. My three seasons long run as manager for Kidderminster was wiped in favour for a new season as manager for AC Milan. There was no warning at all, and apparently I had played for months using only the automatic save slot. There are four manual save slots available letting you have four different teams going. As a cautionary note make sure to go into options, and save manually before lending the game to a friend.
Football Manager Handheld 2010 is a slimmed down version that feels agile and quick. Some aspects have been scaled down, but it is still all about putting the best possible squad on the field at any given day. At the new price $4.99 the game is definitely worth considering for anyone interested in getting a good manager game on the go.
Football Manager Handheld 2010 $4.99
Seller: Sega America
Tested on an iPhone 3G and iPhone 4.