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This week we’re playing… Soccer Manager

Developer: Fizz Software
Price: £2.99

We knew this day would come, and now that it’s here we’re extremely happy: football management games have landed on the App Store. We fully intend on testing them all and this week it’s the turn of Soccer Manager from Fizz Software Ltd.

In this incredibly detailed app you can become the manager of a team from six European countries and you can pick from the first or second tier in England. Once you’ve done that, the very first thing you will notice about this game is that it obviously hasn’t got the license to use the official player and team names. So, be prepared to play as Chulsea or Menchester United. You can, of course, change the names of the clubs and players in an edit window, but this can take a very, very long time, so we recommend doing it as you play. So when you face Luverpool, go in and change it.

The interface is the key to the brilliance of this game. It borrows heavily from the iPhone home screen and offers you nine options:

Emails – This is where you get updates from the chairman, your scouts and the assistant manager on everything from contracts running out, players losing or gaining form and transfer options.

Finance – Keep an eye on revenue and transfer funds so you can keep the chairman happy.

Status – Check out your own form as a manager. Check your win, loss, draw record and, of course, your trophy cabinet.

Team – Tactical operations are all kept in this section. You can control individual training options for players as well as changing formations, tactics and the squad.

Transfers – Keep tabs on the transfer market. There are always bargains to be had.

Jobs – Looking to move up the managerial ladder? Here’s where you do it

Fixtures – Plan your season here, so your best players are rested ready for the big games.

League – Check out your own position and what the competition are up to.

Cups – Keep an eye on how you are getting on in other competitions.

At the bottom of the main interface you have the progress section where you can move through the year and begin playing matches. Tap Continue when you’re ready to move on and the matches will start coming in thick and fast. You can also check out the form of the team you are about to play.

During a match you have live football ground sounds piped through to your headphones and a written commentary of the game as it happens. A timer in the top-left lets you know how long remains in each half, and there are five options along the bottom of the screen to help you manage as the game goes on:

Team – Here you can see the whole team presented in formation. Each player has a number on there shirt which represents their form in that game. Everyone starts on 6 and the better they play the higher the number gets. From here you can also make substitutions.

Stats – Check out your shot count, shots on target, free kicks, corners, possession and territory as the game progresses.

Tactics – Adjust your attacking percentage and aggression as the game goes on.

Score – See how the rest of the teams in the league are getting on.

Pause/Resume – Stop the game at any time to implement changes, or to calm yourself during tense moments.

This game is without doubt one of the best things we’ve seen to come out of the App Store. It’s by no means perfect, but the amount of detail crammed inside and the amount of control you have on a mobile device is really incredible. In terms of improvements we’d like to see a bit more pace on the calculations. We understand the need for big algorithms to calculate all of the data, but we still want it to be lightening quick. Having the correct names for all the clubs and players is a must. It makes it more enjoyable and more real. It would also be nice to have control over the time of the game so that, if you wanted, you could really slow it down and get a blow-by-blow account of the game, or speed things up so you can whiz through a couple of fixtures if need be.

What we love about this game is that you can really jump in and take control of the club. You can tailor training regimes for particular players, focusing on their strengths and weaknesses. You can alter the training for the whole team in preparation for tough games. You can make moves in the transfer market to strengthen your squad and you can negotiate contracts for players you want to keep. You can also make changes as a game takes place, so that if you take a one-nil lead against a big club half way through the first half you can sit back and defend it. You can also build on a lead and go all-out attack.

Of all the apps I’ve played, this is by far the hardest to put down. ‘Just one more game’ is something you’ll end up telling yourself time and again. Its very well made, incredibly easy to use and will have you glued to your iPhone or iPod touch for a long, long time. Click here to be taken to the app.