Publisher: Out of the Park Developments
Developer: Out of the Park Developments
Rated: E for Everyone
Release Date: October 5, 2018
What is it: Franchise Hockey Manager 5 is the latest Hockey game from Out of the Park Developments. The game puts the player in charge of a hockey franchise, in a multitude of true to life leagues from around the world. The game has an NHL license which means you will see all the teams in the NHL. You also gain access to teams in the American Hockey League, as well as Major Junior Leagues in Canada. As well as teams and leagues throughout the history of Hockey. While you don’t directly control the action on the ice, you do control nearly every aspect of the team off the ice.
Gameplay: Franchise Hockey Manger 5 isn’t really a game in the general sense of the word. It’s more of a simulator. You build your franchise from the ground up. You are in control of the player personnel, the front office staff, every aspect of the team. If you are playing strictly as the G.M. you will hire a coach. The coach will be in control of using the players you assemble to attempt to win games. This can be a lot of fun and frustration, much as in real life. You may make a trade for a player that you feel can help the team, only to see the coach not use said player in his lineup. Playing as a G.M. only brings a whole new set of challenges. Alternatively, if you truly want to control your own fate you can play as a Head Coach and General Manager. Doing this gives you ultimate control over your team. You’ll make the trades and signings, set the lines, and control the tactics. This is where you can truly get lost in the game. The tactics are extremely in-depth. From giving instructions to your lines all the way to each player, in each situation, the games tactical control can be daunting to hockey newbies.
Signing free agents and making trades is the backbone of building your team. The trade engine is frustrating, especially when comparing it to Out of the Park Baseball. You can shop around players you no longer want. This leads to you getting a list of emails from other teams. These emails lead to either accepting, rejecting, or negotiating a trade. One thing that would go a long way to helping the trade engine would be Out of the Park Baseballs ability to ask the opposing G.M. what they would want to make a trade work. It seems like a minor thing, but it goes a long way to help you decide if a trade is one you’re willing to make or not. That level of negotiating adds a bit of realism. It is something I have hoped would be added for some time. Once you have your players assembled and your lines set, you can start playing your games. You can choose to simulate games or watch them play out on a basic screen that uses large dots and running commentary to show you the action. Franchise Hockey Manager 5 does not feature a 3D model system for games. This can be a bit of a disconnect for players. It certainly makes the game fell dated when compared to similar Sports Management games like Football Manager and FHM’s sister title Out of the Park Baseball. There are some bugs that make running the team slightly frustrating. These especially pop-up when running a minor league team. I can’t tell you how many times I received an email assigning a player to my team, only to get another email that he is being recalled the same day. The simulation engine seems to be getting closer to real hockey with each new title in the line.
Visuals: The visuals are basic as you may expect from a Sports Management title. The NHL license means all the logos for NHL teams are in the game. Most of the Non-NHL leagues are missing logos. This is easily resolved via the use of mods. Mods can be found in the Steam Workshop, or through the games official forums. I have found the forums to be very useful, both for modding and questions about the game. The core of the game is the user interface. The user interface can be overwhelming at first. There are tabs on top of tabs. That said, once you get used to them, they make finding what you need simple. While there is room for improvement, the U.I. works well.
Audio: The audio is basic, but effective.
Fun Factor: If you love the game of Hockey, or you’ve ever wanted to run a hockey franchise, then Franchise Hockey Manager 5 is the game for you. If you love statistics, then I would also highly recommend this game. The depth in almost all aspects of the game is truly impressive. While there is plenty of room for improvement, and a few annoying bugs rear their head, the game is very fun for a hockey fan. The game developers are continually working on patches to improve the title. A few small frustrations do not hold the title back. Franchise Hockey Manager 5 is a must own for fans of Hockey.
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