Franchise Hockey Manager: Reviewing a potential gem
By James Stephan (@J_Habs)
I’ve been a huge advocate for the hockey simulation game East Side Hockey Manager 2007 for the last four years; being a video game connoisseur of sorts leads me to appreciate the hard work and detail put into EHM.
If you are a passionate hockey fan who enjoys video games, and you’ve never heard of EHM2007 before, I can say with certainty that you’re missing out.
For those unaware Eastside Hockey Manager gives you full uncensored control over whichever hockey team tickles your fancy. Whether you were a living Hockey Legend by the name of James Bond taking over the Calgary Flames to turn them into an offensive juggernaut or a young unknown thirty-something taking reigns of the Windsor Spitfires to win the memorial cup, EHM allowed for limitless possibilities.
James Bond Calgary Flames – EHM 2007 Screenshot
EHM allowed you to experience the life of a hockey executive and for those of us that have said “I’ll give it a try” probably weren’t expecting to stumble upon a game that would captivate a special place in our hearts.
What does EHM 2007 have to do with Franchise Hockey Manager? In fact what is Franchise Hockey Manager?
To put it simply, FHM is the next Hockey Simulator that will capture that special place in your heart.
I’ve had the privilege of being part of the Beta since April of 2013 and while there are many elements that need to be worked on, it is easy to see what potential this game holds.
To say FHM has bugs and kinks to work out would be an understatement; like any game in its stages of infancy, areas where improvement is needed are blatantly obvious. However in the same breadth since its beta stage the amount of progression and overall improvement that has been done to the game has been exponential. Within the span of four months Franchise Hockey Manager went from a brilliant concept that required an extensive amount of fine tuning to a working product that shows plenty of promise both short and long term.
So what can you do in FHM?
I believe the proper question is what can’t you do?
From scouting players in foreign countries to uncover that hidden gem from Austria who ends up centering your top line, to swindling a rookie GM in a trade for a player of yours that he over values.
Take a team and make it your own, whether you’re a Swedish great bringing glory back to a demoted Djurgårdens team, a devoted veteran taking an AHL team to raise the famous Calder Cup, or an NHL GM pursuing the elusive Stanley Cup and creating a dynasty.
Many concepts from Eastside Hockey Manager 2007 such as player scouting, and the vast variety of player attributes can be found here; why reinvent the wheel when you can simply make it better. These concepts were brilliant within the EHM franchise and were in need of a new game to call home.
Draft enthusiasts will be particularly pleased as the in-game scouting not only helps you uncover gems, but contributes to player development.
Players possess a large array of attributes, some you’d expect such as acceleration and stickhandling, however there are others that are called “hidden” which make each player that much more detailed, and more importantly, unique.
Franchise Hockey Manager also features an original mode which many hockey fans will appreciate as they feel the nostalgia flooding their senses taking them down a trip through memory lane.
Have you ever wanted to take over the Montreal Canadiens in the days of Sam Pollock? Bob Gainey? Serge Savard? Thought to yourself “I could do better” “we should have drafted player X over player Y” or my personal favorite “Trade the man, he’s a no good bum!” Well now you can as Franchise Hockey Manager introduces Historical Mode which allows you to take over a team of the past and turn them into a true Dynasty. Feel like ending the Toronto Maple Leafs drought since 1967? Of course you do! Feel like trading Price, Subban, Gorges, the kitchen sink and a second round pick for Vincent Lecavalier? Go right ahead….(just don’t tell anyone).
1986 Habs – FHM Screenshot
The beauty behind Franchise Hockey Manager is that like a fine wine, it will get better with age as the developers whom I’ve seen firsthand work feverishly to address community needs and concerns. The long term vision behind the game is quite exciting as they plan to take concepts from their Franchise success Out of The Park Baseball and incorporate them into Franchise Hockey Manager, as well as integrating some of the old ideas from Eastside Hockey Manager 2007.
Since the recent patch release the game has become much more stable, the artificial intelligence has been tweaked, the scouting has been vastly improved, along with over two dozen other elements. It is worth noting that within the same week of the release the developers released two patches to address bugs, and community concerns that were voiced on their highly active forums.
If you are a long time video gamer then you understand that great games require a special formula consisting of complexity, quality programming, creativity, innovation patience. A key factor which makes good games great is patience, and it is the belief of this hockey fan and avid gamer that FHM is on the cusp of greatness.
As a fan of EHM 2007, watching this game unfold by the same developers of Out of the Park Baseball and EHM 2007 I can’t help but become stricken with excitement for what the future of this new video game has. I believe the OOTP team has found a great formula for success, and it is easy to see how a little patience in this case will go a very long way.
I give FHM a solid 8 on 10 for overall as it stands right now, but in the future I wouldn’t be surprised if it easily becomes a 9.5 and effortlessly surpasses its distant cousin Eastside Hockey Manager 2007.