We’ve all been there.

We’ve all sat on the couch yelling at our TV because of coaching, player selection or just overall play by our favorite team. And whether you want to admit it or not, we’ve all thought that we could do a better job.

Though most of us will never get the opportunity to put our money where our mouths are in the real world, the virtual world allows just that chance. Meet Franchise Hockey Manager 3.

The third entry in the hockey simulation series from the team that brought everyone the critically acclaimed Out of the Park Baseball, Franchise Hockey Manager 3 aims to improve on setbacks from the prior entries while also adding new features to justify the upgrade for players.

GAME MODES

One of the biggest additions to the series is the inclusion of an official NHL license, giving the game all 30 of the league’s teams. No longer will a mod be necessary in order to manage and/or coach the Detroit Red Wings or Buffalo Sabres. The teams and players are right there at a click of a button.

The game offers a number of modes for players to enjoy to help everything feel fresh every time you want to start something new. Back are the traditional modes that allow you to create custom hockey worlds with a variety of set-up options.

Franchise Hockey ManagerNew to the game comes a “Path to Glory” mode that is a perfect way for new players to get into the sim-game experience. Players start at the bottom and work their way up to gaining full control of an NHL club, earning skill points along that way that allow you to upgrade your character.

Also new is international competition. There are a number of inter national tournaments that feature qualifying contests. It’s a nice new way to pad the resume of your persona.

PRESENTATION AND GAMEPLAY

From a visuals standpoint, the game isn’t going to blow you away. After all, it’s a sim game based on text. The interface changes look based on your teams colors, but nothing much changes aesthetically.

Inside the varying modes comes changes to the game’s injury system. Users can see where a player might be more vulnerable when it comes to injuries, leading to some big decisions. Do you really want to re-sign a young scorer who has faulty knees or a history of shoulder injuries? That’s a risk you have to weigh.

AI has been improved in terms of trade, free agent and waiver logic. Still, I did find myself scratching my head at lineups that the AI set at times. I even saw a game where Steven Stamkos a healthy scratch for Tampa Bay.

Franchise Hockey ManagerInside an actual game, it feels much the same as the last version of the game. A 2-D ice rink that acts like the typical game trackers you see on most league websites. You can either make in-game changes yourself or let the AI handle it.

The in-game screen also tells you what team currently has the coaching advantage, tactical advantage and momentum. It gives you quite a bit to go on when deciding what adjustments to make within a specific game.

On the downside of things, the menus can be slow and loading times can be strenuous for a text-based title. Responsiveness in general can become too much of a problem at times.

Making changes while in game can also be exhausting, leading to just letting the game play out as is rather than implementing any adjustments. It comes back to responsiveness. For a game based on text and user input, response time isn’t something a player should have to worry about.

VERDICT

Franchise Hockey Manager 3 isn’t a game for everyone. If you’re someone who’s more into the on-ice action as opposed to the management – no pun intended – then this may not be what you want to play. That being said, those who are already fans of the franchise or want to know more about what a management sim is like need to look no further than Franchise Hockey Manager 3.

Final Score: 8/10

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Michael Straw
Michael Straw is a gamer who just happens to be an experienced journalist. In his near decade-long career, Mike has traveled across the United States to cover some of the biggest events in gaming and sports, including E3, PAX, as well as the NFL and NHL Drafts. His work covering gaming and sports led his content being featured on Fox Sports 1, SI.com and others. He was once the second-ranked player in the world in NHL 09 on Xbox Live, and is a huge pro wrestling junkie.