I’m a big fan of two things in life: ice hockey and sports management games. I’ve grown up around Championship Manager/Football Manager and have a passion for being able to lead a team of any ability to national or world glory. In my dreams, I’ve envisaged a type of sports management game for Ice Hockey, and it seems that my prayers have been answered thanks to the talented lot at “Out of the Park Developments”.
The first thing that grabs you about FHM 2014 is the extensive amount of leagues and nations you can manage in. A total of 23 leagues are available, ranging from England to the NHL itself – this provides a wide variety of ways to play the game, even allowing those who don’t live in America, to manage their ‘local’ teams to glory. Upon selecting the leagues/nations, you are taken to the manager creation screen where you can pick your GM’s name, nationality and date of birth, along with 3 options that you can select, including an option to become unsackable and a ‘blind mode’ which masks some players stats to increase the realism and enhance the experience of playing the game.
Once you have created your game, you are taken to your General Manager screen which contains several sub-panels which are vital to your overall management of your team. This gives you a detailed overview of what’s going on to assist you with your management. This is your introduction to the gameplay and is a fairly representative pointer on the layout, design and feel of the whole game itself – with a very slick and concise design providing the functional overlook in an efficient space usage.
The in-match screen, layout and gameplay itself is extremely well done, with many options available for you to change the speed of the game – meaning a match can take anyway from 30 seconds to pretty much to full hour a normal hockey game takes. This is good for the two kinds of Sports Management players that there generally are: those who like the full in-depth experience of every single tactical decision, every thrill and every spill- or those who just like to launch the game, get straight into the matches, and play through a season in a day. Even when choosing to sim the match, you find that it’s not just the score popping up on a scoreboard at the end of the game, but it actually sim’s through the periods, changing the scoreboard whenever a goal is scored.
The tactical options in FHM 2014 is a very detailed and in-depth feature, they will be set to realistic defaults at the start of the game but you can automate the mentalities, passing style and checking style of your team depending on the period of the game you’re in and the score. This means you can set your team to be relaxed when 2-0 up in the first period, to conserve stamina, but if you’re 2-0 in the 3rd, you can make your team very aggressive and very offensive.
The trading and drafting options in FHM 2014 are functional and easy to use, with no real complex features – making it great for those hockey fans who aren’t 100% certain on the rules and regulations of the trading system itself. This general concept is what makes me rate this game so highly, I have plenty of friends who love hockey but find the rules very complicated, this game allows even the most uncultured of players to just get into the game, and learn about the sport at the same time.
My one major criticism, except the minor graphical errors or glitches, is the fact we don’t get to see little 3d or 2d players skating around on the ice during the match simulation. Maybe I’ve just become too accustomed to Football Manager-like simulation but I think it would be a really cool and interesting feature to add into the game.
To conclude, I am a big fan of this game, it’s quick and easy to get into, has a wide range of tactical and player management options and is even great for those who aren’t so sure about the many complex regulations of various hockey leagues worldwide. I’d recommend this game to any fan of Ice Hockey, or even any fan of sports management games in general.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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