With the superb duo of Real Football: Manager Edition and Championship Manager 2008 already on the scene (aptly backed by the likes of LMA Manager 08), it's not unreasonable to say the pitch of football management games on mobile is getting a little crowded. Nevertheless, new pretenders to the crown such as the game we have here will keep stepping up, confident of out-playing the opposition. Unfortunately, while the aforementioned three are premier league material, Ojom's Manager Pro Football 2008 is strictly conference-level Blue Square Premier.
On paper this game has everything: a wealth of features to keep any budding manager happy, with control over finance, training and tactics, and even experience points for upgrading your players. There's also a 3D match engine for watching 40-yard screamers fly into the top corner.
Unfortunately, in practice, Manager Pro Football 2008 falls far short of what it promises.
Most of the game takes place in the menu screens with tabs for Player Info (where you can upgrade players and edit names), Team, Transfer, Stadium, Information, Match. Within these you can edit your formation and tactics, set the intensity of your training, buy/sell/loan/borrow players or scout for a new addition to the squad, set ticket prices and expand your stadium, and see how your team's doing both in the league and financially.
It all sounds very in-depth, and there's plenty to keep you going before match day, including two neat features worth pointing out. One is deciding the 'Method of Play' (five settings ranging from the ultra-defensive 'Form Wall' to the all-guns-blazing 'Crowbar'), and, two, is setting how aggressively your team plays (from 'Lethargic' to 'Extreme').
Once set, you can move on to the match. Here you can look forward to a 3D isometric view of players running about, accompanied by an irritating three-note tune repeated ad nauseam.
To be honest, it's fairly dull watching players kick and chase, passes going out for throw-ins, and goalkeepers falling over shots from the centre circle, although occasionally a corner spices things up a bit. Oh, we should also point out that in this game matches are 90-minutes long with no half-time and no changing ends.
Equally worth mentioning is the fact that there are no real player names in the game, replaced instead by a mixture of real and imaginary teams in three leagues – not that this would matter if the game was fun to play.
Unfortunately it isn't. You don't get feedback on your training regime so you don't know what difference it makes and, likewise, you get no obvious indication of the effect your method of play or aggressiveness has on your team's performance.
Adding to the vagueness, the final scores of matches generally seem arbitrary. After playing through two seasons, it became evident that your team can wipe the floor with their opponents for weeks, and then suddenly go on a five-game losing streak with nothing you do stopping the rot. And don't even think of skipping the match highlights and going straight to the result because you will never, ever win a game.
Hidden somewhere in Manager Pro Football is the promise of a distinct management sim. Ideas like the experience points and the ability to set your team's style of play would have added some novelty, had such inclusions been allowed to impact on your team's performance. As they were not, the resulting experience feels like nothing more than a complicated game of chance.