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Middle Manager of Justice

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Top brass

Product: Middle Manager of Justice | Developer: Double Fine | Publisher: Dracogen Strategic Investments | Format: iPad | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Middle Manager of Justice iPad, thumbnail 1
It's important to recognise that freemium isn't a genre. There are genres that suit the controversial payment model better than others, but trying to unite every free-to-play game under the same banner is a road to confusion and despair.

The problem is, the word "freemium" conjures up certain images in the heads of gamers. It's a red flag - a reason not to even bother downloading the game in the first place. In the case of Middle Manager of Justice, that would mean missing out on an entertaining experience.

Partly that's down to the theme. Rather than harvesting corn or tending to your imaginary city, you're sending out superheroes to right wrongs, protect citizens, and punch wise-cracking goons in the faces until they fall down dead.

Paperwork Man

The game is a pretty simple management simulator that sees you taking on the role of the titular middle manager. You're essentially running your own superhero franchise, controlling the training regimens, rest cycles, and well-being of a group of caped crusaders.

Half of the action takes place in your office, which is split into a variety of rooms. To begin with you'll have a single hero, a training room, and a grim and grotty bedroom where you can catch some sleep between missions.

As you progress you'll add annexes, giving your ever-increasing roster places to chill out between brawls, laboratories where you can create new items and equipment, cubicles where your heroes can try and drum up some more business, and practice rooms where they can learn new skills.

Punching in

The other half of the game takes place on the streets. Here you'll send out your heroes to engage in real-time battles with the scum that's polluting the city, or use their strength and intelligence to stop buses or save babies from burning buildings.

You have a limited amount of control over your hero's actions, but the scraps are entertaining all the same. You choose when to blast out your special powers, use the buffs and health potions you've collected or bought, or utilise the game-changing abilities of your manager.

Different heroes have different stats, which can be increased by working out between missions, and the game uses these to calculate the likelihood of success before you even start cracking your violence knuckles.

If the percentages are weighted enough in your favour you can let the heroes take care of things themselves, allowing you to get on with paperwork or other crimes, but there's always an opportunity to get your hands dirty too.

Once you've won enough battles in a location you'll face off against the big bad boss that’s behind all the goons. It's in these showdowns that the rich humour of the game really shines, as muscled men in spandex engage in a quip-off before the punching and laser firing begins.

Free to enjoy

It's that trademark Double Fine japery, mixed with the simple pleasure of being in charge of superheroes, that lifts Middle Manager of Justice above similar micro-management games. Buying your way to success is always an option, but there's enough free content here that you won't begrudge the developer a few quid when you decide you want to speed things up.

Middle Manager of Justice is the freemium model done right. It never feels like you're being manipulated into a position where you have to pay to keep having fun. Instead, it uses its payment options to let you have fun above and beyond the fun of playing the free version.

And that's how it should be. Fun first, money second. It's ironic that it took a game about unnecessary management structures to tell us that.

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Middle Manager of Justice
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 14 December 2012
An enjoyably simple management sim that threads its theme and humour through every part of itself, Middle Manager of Justice is well worth your time
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