APP OF THE DAY: Football Manager Handheld 2013 review (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android)

There were plenty of excellent games released in 2012, but few have held our attention for quite as long as the latest entry to the Football Manager franchise on the PC. More in-depth than it's ever been and with an improved 3D graphics engine to boot, FM 2013 is perhaps the only game that has been played almost every day since its launch.

However, we can't stay at home every day of our lives. There have to be moments when we leave the house, travel to work, that kind of thing. And for those times, there is...

Football Manager Handheld 2013

Format
iPad (version tested), iPhone, iPod touch, Android
Price
£6.99
Where
iTunes, Google Play

Those expecting radical changes from the previous instalment of Sports Interactive's mobile management game will initially be disappointed. But such a fickle nature is ill advised, because it is not a complete overhaul that makes Football Manager Handheld 2013 so darn good, but inspired tweaks and rejigs.

That's not to say that there aren't some major additions to the most popular footy management franchise -there certainly are - just that Sports Interactive and the trustworthy hand of Marc Vaughan, head of Handheld Development, have yet again successfully adhered to the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Regular FM fans will notice that there are two new playable leagues in the guise of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and, of course, all the league and player data has been updated to match the 2012/13 season currently in progress.

The news feed section has a fair few new entries that can appear over a career, and the Android version has been released at the same time as its iOS counterpart.

However, one aesthetic change that you will notice almost immediately is that - as its PC stablemate has benefited from for a while - player profiles screens now feature their real-life faces. As do player comparison pages, which are another addition this year.

Unfortunately, not all players in the game are represented with their gurning mugshots. Sadly, as in the PC/Mac game, only licensed leagues get player pictures. Others, such as the Premier League, do not. Nor do they get club crests for the teams on league table and fixture screens. It's a shame, but them's the breaks. We'd rather have some than none.

Also making their debut are in-app purchases. These will no doubt be less well received than other new features, but do allow you, effectively, to cheat. If the game is too hard for you, you can buy power-ups with real cash, such as expand your stadium or attract a chairman laden with in-game wonga. It's not something we'd partake in ourselves, as it spoils the purity of the experience for us, but we're sure there will be plenty to cough up for a leg up.

Real cash can also be exchanged for additional challenge modes. There are four challenges available when you start the game - set goals you must achieve to win - with another three locked at the start. You can either pay to unlock them immediately, or they will be available for free should you finish each of the former challenges in order.

Other minor changes include the ability to choose a captain (yeah, we were surprised you couldn't do that before too) and move players from your reserve team to the main squad. The rest is very similar to before, still offering a super speedy, yet thought-out and in-depth management game.

It also works across a wide variety of devices, with developer SI Games explaining to Pocket-lint recently that ensuring it is as compatible with the original iPad is as important as it is the latest. It's also available for the PSP for perhaps the last time. This version will also work on the PS Vita.

If there's one criticism it's the price; £6.99 is a lot to pay for a mobile application when compared to the average of around £1.49. But in Football Manager Handheld 2013 you really do get what you paid for. This is not a game that you'll play for ten minutes and then discard willy-nilly when the mood takes you, like a Chelsea manager, for instance. This is a game you will revisit the entire year until the next instalment comes out.