Summary: It would be facile to say NHL 12 just skated by, sticking to the winning formula established in franchise’s resurgence. Still, as is occasionally the case with sports games that don’t need radical fixing, last year’s iteration was one of tweaks and balancing: welcomed AI fixes, improvements made to the previously implemented physics system, and so on.
Excerpt: With the NHL’s fourth work stoppage in less than 20 years now in full effect, hockey fans now have to look elsewhere for their fill of the sport they love. Thankfully, for those of us who don’t feel like cheering on teams from smaller leagues (Go Glens Go!), EA’s annual iteration of the beautiful game on ice is here and is bigger than ever before. But does bigger necessarily mean better or should this venerable series finally call a time out?
Excerpt: The NHL series has been around for over two decades and has garnered plenty of ‘Sports Game of the Year’ awards during this period. This year’s instalment doesn’t boast many improvements in the audio-visual department but instead features a new physics-based skating system, improved AI and a new mode called NHL Moments Live. The series’ popular ‘Be a GM’ mode has also been expanded to incorporate online interaction with other human-controlled teams.
Summary: Lockout got you down? No hockey? No problem!
Pros: The tightest and most polished version of NHL video game hockey yet; controls are fantastic; True Performance skating really does change the way the game is played; a ton of modes to please any hockey fan either online or off; GM connected mode is a staggering addition.
Cons: Some niggling issues that keep the game from being a true realistic hockey sim; revamped trading AI in Be a GM mode is practically broken; casual fans may have a hard time justifying the $60 upgrade over NHL 12; some graphical and presentation glitches; player ratings can seem pretty out of whack.
Summary: So, hockey fans’ worst fears have been realized and the lockout has been confirmed. This is the third in the past two decades, but thankfully this time around fans are well catered for in the digital realm. They certainly couldn’t have expected things to turn out this way in the NHL, but EA Canada has picked a hell of a time to give us a massive update to their NHL franchise.
Summary: NHL 14 takes the ice in a new way, and it brings with it retro and new players alike with NHL 94 Mode. Even if the menus are slow and the AI is stupid, 14 is still a strong outing that any hardcore fan, as well as the retro and new, will gladly pick up and play.
Pros: NHL 94 coaxes new and retro players to the ice, Live the Life digs deeper into player's lifestyle, Fighting is a right, not a privilege
Cons: Slow menus bog down RPG-like experience, AI is shallow and unsophisticated, Collision Engine simplifies gameplay