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OS Scores Explained Franchise Hockey Manager 2 Overview (PC)
Pros
Interface much better, deep control, plenty of options.
Cons
In-game experience behind other franchises, interface not fully there, still
Bottom Line
A much improved experience and well worth any text-sim minded hockey fan's time.
7
out of 10
Franchise Hockey Manager 2 REVIEW

Franchise Hockey Manager 2 Review (PC)

 
Franchise Hockey Manager didn’t have the best start last year. The hockey management text-simulation certainly showed promise -- and after a major update was much better -- but it ultimately fell short of its initial promise.

The game, developed by the same company which produces Out of the Park Baseball, decided to take a new look at several aspects of how it does things. Taking a cue from Out of the Park Baseball, much of the game will be familiar to veterans of that franchise.

The interface has been cleaned up (and it looks a lot more like the other OOTP text-sim), and more importantly, the game experience has been refined, which leads to a better overall experience over last year’s game.
 
 
The Interface

Much of Franchise Hockey Manager’s interface is going to be familiar to veterans of Out of the Park Baseball. Player ratings are now presented in the starred format of OOTP, and screens are organized in a similar manner as well.

However, I did find myself missing many of the quick buttons and links that OOTP has, so the interface is a noticeable step backwards from the baseball franchise. That is to be expected somewhat, but you can’t deny navigating around FHM is a bit more frustrating.

That being said, once you get accustomed to the interface and start finding your way around, you’ll find there are a variety of options and plenty of information to keep you busy as you build your ultimate hockey franchise.

For starters, I found searching for players to be relatively easy, and adjusting my lines and moving players around my roster wasn’t hard. In addition, the interface did have a a feedback issue here and there on my Mac as some clicks and such had a slight delay before the interface reacted.
 
 
Simulation Engine

Inside of the game, the interface is pretty basic with the game playing out on a digital rink with no player animations. This does seem a step backwards and the bare minimum for the simulation screen.

Controlling your team does require some clicks from the simulation, which I'm not in love with for this style of game. There’s not enough options for customizing lines on the fly and getting specific players in at specific times. Naturally, people interested in text-sims are usually the type of people who want to work on the finest details of the game -- so the lack of finer options was a bit surprising.

There are enough options and controls to allow for creation of rather deep and intricate tactics. You can tune your gameplay to your personnel, having a more physical team play a style that’s more fitting of them versus a speedier team skating the puck a bit more. There’s certainly enough options to allow you to tune your gameplay to your personnel, but not enough fine control to make the amount of control total.

The game rating stat itself is interesting, and it allows a bit of a broad-brush look at how a player is performing overall. Any specific event will change the game rating stat up or down. I didn’t play with this enough, but I would certainly be interested to see how accurate it truly is versus how a player is performing. On the surface, it seemed to be a helpful guide.

Regardless, the game itself seems to produce well-tuned stats, and you should have little problem keeping up with the game and how it's progressing.
 
 
Options

The options present in this year’s game are pretty solid. There are several leagues to choose from, with the typical options such as the NHL, the Swedish Hockey League, the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, as well as the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League from Canada.

On top of those, you have the option to play however you like in terms of your starting position and reputation. You can choose to play in commissioner mode, as with OOTP, to control the entire experience from the salary cap to actual league rules. Another cool feature is that you can expand your league via expansion at the end of the year.

Also, you can play modern, historical or fictional leagues. Basically this gives you the option to play in many different eras and in many different situations.

Other Odds and Ends

Another critical aspect of any text-sim is how the opponent GM AI handles the variety of situations thrown at them.

At first glance, after playing a couple of seasons it seems the trading AI is a little wonky at times and some roster moves are certainly interesting. Over time, it certainly seemed like the game kept things balanced, but as of review time I had not gotten more than a couple of intensely played seasons into the future.

The tactics engine is nice, and it does allow for plenty of strategic adjustments before you move into a game. You are able to basically adjust settings at the line level, which allows for a more finely tuned experience. Again, the control isn’t complete, but it is certainly deep and will allow you to put together most any hockey game plan you can imagine.
 
Final Thoughts

All in all, Franchise Hockey Manger 2 is a much improved experience in almost every way. From the in-game simulations to managing your team to the much improved interface. Any serious hockey fan who also happens to love text sims needs to give this game a try. While the overall experience still isn’t as refined streamlined, and deep as other sports text-sim peers, Franchise Hockey Manager 2 is a fine experience all its own and should be experienced by any serious hockey fan.

Score: 7.0 (Good)

Member Comments
# 1 binga30 @ 10/14/15 03:48 AM
Is there a demo available? Shelling out $40AUD is not something I take lightly for unpolished games.
 
# 2 JBate24 @ 10/14/15 06:55 AM
Nope, no demo.
 
# 3 Cod @ 10/14/15 08:21 PM
I have the Steam version and its much better than the first FHM; however, there is still a lot of room to grow. With that said, the developers and producer are very active on Steam and the OOTP forums.

My biggest concern is the simulation engine. An upgrade from last year, but still needs a lot of work. I've seen goals in the first 3-seconds multiple times. Also, you cannot see exactly where the puck is (like EHM:EA), just "areas".

Like I said earlier though, the game is definitely headed in the correct direction and worth it for any hockey fan. Feel free to ask me any questions about the game.
 

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