EA Sports NHL is the most well-known hockey game brand on the market, and EA produces the only NHL-licensed AAA game that is currently available. But if NHL 20 isn’t for you, or you may not to pay the $60 for yourself or someone else, consider Franchise Hockey Manager 6. And today, SGO will review the latest installment of FHM, and let you know whether it’s worth it or not.
Franchise Hockey Manager 6 Review
Developed by OOTP Developments, the same folks who produce Out of the Park Baseball every year, Franchise Hockey Manager is a simulation-style game which allows the player to take over their own hockey team. You won’t be able to actually play hockey, but you’ll have control over all other aspects of your team. Whether it’s signing free agents, or making a trade, you’ll be able to control and change the course of your team.
Upon starting up the game, users can create their character and take over one of the 31 NHL teams, or a team from an international league such as the KHL. FHM 6 not only offers authentic team names and logos, but also accurate rosters and prospects pools. This is thanks to the fact that only biographical information is used in the game, and there are no player likenesses in FHM.
In addition to FHM‘s standard game, there’s also a “Historical” game mode, where gamers can take control of a NHL team from the past. Lastly, there are also online leagues, where gamers can go up against friends and rivals and build the best possible team.
Control, Control, Control
One big perk of Franchise Hockey Manager 6 is the ability to set detailed tactics for your team. FHM 6‘s strategies screen is more expansive than NHL 20, thanks to the fact that players can decide what lines they want their players to go after. So if you have a strong checking line that you want to use against the opponent’s top line, you can set your tactics to do just that. Gamers can also set their forecheck settings, as well as powerplay and penalty setups, and those are also more expansive than the ones available to players in NHL 20.
How’s the Sim Engine?
Sim engines in video games can be funny at times. One simulation can be quite realistic, while another one won’t be. Franchise Hockey Manager 6‘s sim engine seems to be work well for the most part, as the top players usually wind up being the top statistical performers. This is important because as I wrote in my DDS: Pro Football 2019 review, if team and players ratings aren’t reflected in the sim engine, then it shows some serious flaws.
However, one thing I did notice was that deep teams didn’t necessarily seem to always simulate well, even though some of them had elite players. The thing with this, though, is that hockey can be a funny sport sometimes. One day a team can be on fire, and another day they can’t seem to break through on a hot goalie. FHM 6‘s sim engine, for the most part, found a good balance here, but it could use some refinement.
What Needs Improvement?
One part of the game that could use some improvement is the interaction, or lack thereof, players have with AI GM’s in standard mode. In FHM 6, if you offer a team a trade, you wait a couple of days and then hear back from them. A potential addition that might be helpful is adding counter-offers, as well as opposing teams offering trades. This not only adds interaction with the AI, but it adds to the realism of the game. Trades are usually fought over and negotiated for days and weeks, and adding this feature not only can add some authenticity, but also may save some time for the player, especially if that trade is the ideal one.
Personally, I enjoyed playing Franchise Hockey Manager 6 a lot. It’s more immersive than NHL 20‘s Franchise mode, but it may not be worth the buy if you want to actually play hockey. But if you’re into sport management games, and want to try your hand at taking control of a hockey team from the past or present, it’s worth a buy.
Note: A review key for this game was provided by OOTP Developments
If you don’t want to pay $60 for NHL 20, or want a replacement for GM Connected, this game is a nice alternative. While it has some flaws, FHM 6 certainly has a lot to offer.