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: It’s a true shame that for the third time in just 18 years, the National Hockey League has decided to lock out its players in the midst of a heated dispute over a new collective bargaining agreement. The current rift between the NHL owners and players is so wide that distraught, unhappy, and (in some cases) irate fans don’t know how much of a season they’ll have – if they have one at all.
Pros: Skating finally feels realistic, Goaltender and teammate AI much smarter, GM Connected and Hockey Moments Live add even more depth and replayability
Cons: Passing system still needs improvement, No Did Not Finish penalties in GM Connected
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: 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