Realism might be the target for many a game, but you have to wonder just how close to the truth anyone taking on Real Football Manager 2010's challenge will want their experience to be.
Though modern day football management comes with a certain amount of glamour and a whole help of kudos – Ancelotti's move to Chelsea as big as any of Madrid's summer signings – it also comes with pressure unparalleled. The buck stops with you, and each and every manager out there is potentially only a few defeats away from lining up at the back of the queue at their local Job Centre.
Gameloft's Real Football Manager, despite its name, has always found that sweet spot between reality and fantasy, with this year's release retaining much of the appeal of last year's edition, albeit with a subtle, if slightly superficial, move away from its comic-strip style character. Thankfully, every element worth holding onto makes an appearance here.
Using an isometric view of your club's city to move between all facets of the day-to-day running of the squad (its line-up, training routine, the transfer market and financial foundations all easily available), each and every element of play is open to you in between the matches themselves. Important developments (transfer offers, messages from directors, scout reports on forthcoming matches) are communicated to you via a separate news menu.
As before, though, it's the matches themselves that most impress, delivering an almost faultless replication of the sport. Balls canon off players, keepers dive the wrong way, counter-attacks sweep into action and teams attempt to dominate possession. Each match really does come with its own unique feel, the teams all specialising in their own brand of football.
In terms of raw simulation, Real Football Manager 2010's match engine really could put some of its PC rivals to shame, but it's not being unfair to suggest that the actual management side of play isn't the deepest. Though in no way a 'lite' take on the profession, play has been sculpted to suit its format, and that invariably means the sheer number of options available have been scaled down.
But, just as with its predecessor, by tailoring itself to mobile play, Real Football Manager 2010 continues its franchise's stay at the top of the table, serving up a management system free of cluttered menus and aided by matches that really make your decisions at the heart of every result. Though restricted in its aspirations, Gameloft's sober approach to mobile football management is one dose of realism that comes without a bitter aftertaste.