It was two years ago when Takuya Kozuki spoke about Konami’s intention to focus on the mobile game market to keep the company competitive in the ever-changing digital entertainment industry. Their first take on the games for the portable devices from then was nothing less than a football management game. As someone who has been a fan of Championship Manager and Football Manager series for decades, as well as an avid player of Pro Evolution Soccer, I was looking forward to testing PES Club Manager, a free to play the game for Android and iOS.
Is It Like All the Others?
It’s not like I haven’t tried other soccer management games for mobile. However, anyone who played FM or CM on consoles knows that it is a much shallower experience that puts social elements in front of your coaching skills. That is why I had some doubts while the PES Club Manager was downloading, but I am glad to say that the Japanese know how to make a great game and they proved that once again.
In the beginning
You will have a detailed tutorial that will thoroughly explain the interface and the basic game mechanics. The tutorial encouraged me because I noticed right away that there is a lot of different ways to influence the results of your team. Everything you expect in a football management game is here – setting your lineup and formation, adjusting training regimes, buying and selling players, upgrading your stadium and choosing sponsors. Enough to put a smile on my face and encourage me to take my hometown team to win some trophies!
Don’t think that winning silverware is easy in PES Club Manager. You start from the bottom, and your first task is to take your team to the top tier. No, you can’t choose from which league to start (Master League, anyone?), you have to play the way the developers intended it and work your way up. The default squad consists of future talents, and players no one else wanted (again – Master League, anyone?), which will make you realise that you need some new faces soon. The good news is that the game features more than 5,000 licensed players (as Konami states ‘including Neymar’), so you have a lot of them to choose from.
How to Strengthen Your PES Club Manager Team?
There might not be a need to do it at all while you are in the lower league. However, once you start competing in the elite division, it will get harder to win matches, and you will face a real challenge. You can make a more competitive team by buying players on the transfer market. You can either use your club’s budget on the real-time market where you need to outbid other managers or scout players and sign contracts with them. Scouting requires spending PES coins, which are the in-game currency, but the monetization system is pretty fair in all game aspects.
Compared to other games such as PES 2017 it is a lot easier to setup a team. A team that you want and make sure that you can win with it.
All the players have about 30 attributes that determine their performance of the pitch. The amount of information is comprehensive for a mobile game, so now is a good time to applaud Konami for including this level of details into the game (yes, they pulled all the data from the console version, but they still didn’t have to implement 30 different attributes). Aside from that, you also have to consider your players’ morale. PES Club Managers works just like Konami’s console games – if the mood of the player drops, it will affect his performance. That is why it is important to keep everyone happy, which is not an easy thing to do.
Training also enables you to upgrade the abilities of your squad members. Training is not comprehensive as you might expect, but keep in mind that it is a management game. The important thing is that it is straightforward and you know what to do to improve the squad. As for the facilities, you have a youth academy, scouting agency, and of course your venue. All these can be upgraded to bring some boosts. For example, bigger stadium brings more money while improved youth academy produces better players.
Let’s Get to the Pitch in 3D?
Once you set your lineup and formation, as well as give particular instructions to your team (including pressing, counter attack or passing options), you finally get to the pitch. I simply couldn’t believe when I saw that Konami implemented a 3D match engine into PES Club Manager! Yes, you can watch the entire game in 3D action. If you want the things to go a bit faster (or you have an older mobile version), you can select 2D top-down view (just like in Football Manager). You can even mix the two by watching the 2D action and then switching to 3D for highlights and goals. PES CM beats FM Mobile in this area, considering that SI Games have yet to include 3D match engine into their portable version of the game.
During the game, you can influence the action by changing your team’s mentality, the tempo of play, passing style, and other things. There is a whole variety of things you can adjust according to what happens on the pitch or what the detailed match statistics tells you. As one of only couple downsides of the game, I have to mention an energy bar that allows you to play only five games at a time. However, one match takes up to 15 minutes, so you have a hefty amount of playing time before the restriction occurs.
It seems incredible that PES Club Manager is free to play for both Android and iOS, but it’s true. Konami’s first take on mobile soccer manager turned out to be a great success. Experienced managers who are looking for depth and a bunch of decision making will be thrilled with the amount of details in the game and how they can affect their team’s performance. The others who love graphics will be delighted with the 3D match engine. PES fans will enjoy the fact that the whole thing reminds a bit of the Master League mode on consoles. Overall, PES Club Manager is an excellent football management game you simply have to try.