Not to be confused with the PES Manager badge collecting game (recently renamed PES Collection), this is a far more mouth-watering prospect for footie fans: a proper management game complete with real-time 3D match action using the engine from the console PES games. Of course, PES (Pro Evolution Soccer) has an illustrious history on consoles and was once favoured by purists over the flashier FIFA. Part of its appeal is down to the detailed, accurate stats for real-life players.
Apart from one star ‘gift’, however, you won’t see any big names at the start of PES Club Manager. Instead, you begin your career with a team of journeymen in the lower leagues. In order to work your way up, you need to not only gradually upgrade your side through training and transfers, but also your ground and its numerous facilities. Some of the latter supply kits (medical, motivation and stamina) and training points to use on players, while others increase the money earned from matches. Of the two main currencies, cash (GP) is readily available, but PES coins are harder to obtain – mainly from achievements and daily logins – so there’s a temptation to resort to IAP bundles.
Still, the freemium aspect of the game isn’t too overbearing and it’s possible to play for free. Even having to wait for energy to recharge to play matches (limited to five in a row) isn’t too much of a hassle because you can still play with the other management aspects in the meantime. This includes scouting for players or buying them on the market – an exciting eBay-style timed bidding war against other real managers.
When it comes to match day, the 3D graphics are excellent and sublime, while switching to a 2D screen reveals a host of stats. In both views, five tactical toggles and a defence/attack slider are used to alter how your team plays, which does strike us as being a touch on the basic side. However, tucked away in the Edit Team menu, we discovered extra tactical options to fine-tune aspects such as positioning, compactness, numbers in attack/defence and whether to use an offside trap; you can also switch formations and select set-piece takers. It all adds up to an in-depth simulation that could well have you hooked for months.