I was looking for a good hockey manager game for years before stumbling upon Game Plan Hockey Manager (GPHM) about 1,5 years ago. It’s been mostly a pleasant ride as a part of very friendly and supportive community. The quality of the game has been trending upward the entire time, reaching the highest pinnacle yet with the recent launch of 2.0 that improved the game on all fronts and introduced a new, better user interface.
What we have here is a well balanced, solid management game that is actively developed with new features added and old ones improved on a regular basis, which is not something I can’t say for the most manager games out there. I like the fact that there’s no set path to greatness. You can do things in your own way, with a team that plays the way you want it to play, and achieve promotions and championships without discovering the one and only right way to do things. Yeah sure, you need good players, but the concept of a “good player” becomes rather blurry very fast. You need your superstar center forwards and defensemen, but you also need those lower line defensive grinders, who often rise up to the occasion and score important goals when the scoring lines are well guarded. Every role actually matters.
GPHM tests your skill as a manager by offering a good amount of variables. Finding the right pieces for the puzzle that forms the identity of your team can be quite challenging, but when everything clicks the feeling of accomplishment is amazing.
I also have to mention the jersey designing editor, which has been one of my favorite features introduced in 2.0. In the old version, you could pick a primary and secondary color for your team and that’s it. Now, however, you can design your jersey from wide variety of different patterns, giving you the opportunity to truly stand out with easily recognizable jersey. Trying out new designs has been very popular pastime for me while waiting for the game simulation to finish.
There’s always things I’d like to have today rather than next week. Training tools are rather limited, giving three basic categories to train: Offensive, general and defensive, each focusing on a predetermined set of skills. You can set training per player and choose the level of how hard the player trains, but I’d like to see a little more specific training tools introduced as in being able to pick a group of skills that the player focuses instead of general categories. Simulation times during game round can be very long, up to 15-20 minutes, but considering the amount of number crunching that goes on, it’s not too bad.
I’ve tried a fair amount of manager games, and GPHM stands out as one of the very best. The usual problem with a game like this is that the developer becomes tired of it and drifts away, leaving the game to linger without further support, or in some cases, shuts it down and moves on. With the launch of 2.0 GPHM addressed this problem by going professional, showing dedication from the developers. The downside of this is a small subscription fee that is now required to play, the huge upside being there’s absolutely no ads anywhere littering the screen. You can try the game free for one month. If you’re looking for a solid manager fix, I can’t but warmly recommend GPHM. There is a lot to like in here.