App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Touch screens seem to attract all sorts of management-style games these days. Race Control Director is yet another management game with its own unique subject matter. Instead of managing a racing team or an individual driver, players in this game are the management team behind how the races themselves are run. Conceptually, this sounds like a great setup for a deep and satisfying management game, but Race Control Director is–unfortunately–kind of a non-starter on that front.
Call the shots
Unlike something like Motorsport Manager, where you play as a manager of a racing franchise, Race Control Director is about putting on fair and safe races. So, instead of developing a racing car, training drivers, or determining when to pull in the pit lane, you're deciding when to wave the yellow flag, penalize players, and pull out the safety car.
Every race you manage gives you a stream of data via text and a racing radio, and it's your job to decide when to make changes to the race. If everything is going smoothly, you can stay out of the mix and let the racers compete. But, if something happens, you need to be ready to swoop in and make the right calls to keep things running smoothly.
If you're not familiar with racing rules and regulations, don't worry. Race Control Director doesn't expect players to memorize the ins and outs of professional racing to play it. At the outset of the game, Race Control Director lays out some very simple explanations of what to do when.
Even when the rules seem pretty clear-cut though, making the right calls at the right time with no hesitation can be quite challenging. Race Control Director moves at a pretty swift pace, and you need to make decisions as soon as they're needed to maximize your score. I'd recommend you start Race Control Director on the Beginner difficulty, since things move a little slower in this mode. It's also useful to start at this easy mode because Race Control Director automatically promotes you to new difficulties if you seem to be sailing through easier ones, which is a neat little touch I'd like to see in more games.
As neat as the concept for Race Control Director is, it's got a few issues that make playing it hard to enjoy. First and foremost of these issues is that it's hard to tell exactly when or why you're getting something wrong. I definitely appreciate that Race Control Director is good at telling you what to look out for upfront, but the minimal follow-up provided when you mess up makes it hard to know how to improve.
Speaking of minimal, Race Control Director feels pretty barebones when it comes to its presentation. Every race is presented on a stark-looking menu that fills with bits of text that often don't feel very connected to each other. This ends up making Race Control Director feel kind of like a hacked together take on a memory game rather than an actual racing management game.
The bottom line
There's a ton of great management games out there, and quite a few of them are racing-themed. Unfortunately, Race Control Director doesn't do much to stand out as a management game or a racing title. Despite having a great premise, the game feels a little too sparse and disconnected to feel satisfying.