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.
Excerpt: Your controller should beware, because things are going to get a little nasty. Thanks to the introduction of True Performance Skating in NHL 13, most of the tactics for success you’ve used the past few years won’t work anymore. While the controls are the same--move with the left stick, shoot with the right--the way that players interact with the ice is dramatically different. The results are, too.
Pros: Realistic skating physics, Smarter, better goaltenders, A legitimate online league mode
Cons: Slow-loading menus, Uninspiring Be A Pro, Stale commentary and fighting
Conclusion: Concept: Reinvigorate a stalled sports franchise with a great new skating mechanic and recalibrate the franchise mode
Graphics: The attention to detail with player faces makes this the best-looking NHL game to date
Sound: Gary Thorne and Bill Clement either need to be replaced or get back into the recording studio to get some new material.
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
Summary: Even an uncertain 2012-2013 hockey season cannot put the breaks on EA Sports's latest entry in the NHL game series. If hockey fans do end up with a lot of time on their hands, EA picked the right year to come out with an NHL title worthy of longer than normal play sessions and deeper general manager simulations. Better yet, skating on ice has never felt more natural.
Conclusion: GM Connected offers online league play for the RPG style Be A GM while Be A Pro and Be A Legend return again as the immersive, but somewhat lacking, career modes. Be A Pro, if anything has become harder to navigate with less customisation options. The addition of the Creation Zone in My NHL’13 adds some confusion to where the create a player starts and is edited.
Pros: True Performance Skating based on physics, Updated left and right stick functions, Addition of hip checks, NHL moments live mini games
Cons: Difficult to get Be A Pro going, Not much customisation in create a player, Clunky sim time for bench shifts