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We’re back again today delving into another yearly EA title and it has to be said, again we’re happy to see what we’d say are enough changes to warrant another release. It seems gone are the days of EA’s annual sports shows being nothing more than upgraded graphics and updated rosters, and it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air from the gaming giants.
As ever, the game throws you straight into your first encounter with little to no preamble. There are some changes you can make along the way here to your game and control styles, but if you chose the more advanced options for your controller you may be left out at sea a little bit, while trying to pick up the game’s basics.
Once you get into the game, you’ll find a fair few new features. On the ice of course AI has been overhauled, and now goal tenders have a much wider variety of stances and actions available to them, more accurately mirroring what we see in the league itself. Our favourite enhancement this year is the popular GM mode, which has been transformed into a full franchise mode where you’re in charge of everything from the game on the pitch, to admission prices, to even relocation to another city (if you believe in that sort of thing). You can find a few of the new features listed on their article just over here
We can also see the all new draft mode and for the first time ever, the world stage where you can lead your country to win in the World Cup of Hockey. all in all, there’s enough in here added to last years title to make it worthwhile for NHL fans, we’d say, though the absence of a Madden style step by step for those who aren’t clued up on the sport could well leave some people behind. A great feature which can help here is the ability to change your game styles to sim or arcade modes, and even moving back to controls of NHL past with options of the NHL 94 two or three button setup, or the new skill stick system (or a hybrid of the two)
With all the new features, we would say for NLH enthusiasts this is a must buy, while people new to the game may find it a little bit of a struggle to get into things without any form of tutorial other than the on ice trainer.
The Run Down
Graphics: 7/10: After covering madden a week or so ago we were hoping for a little more here. While the graphics certainly aren’t bad the animations, crowd and general polish could do with a little more oomph, especially when compared to its footballing cousin
Story: 6/10: With the new Franchise mode and the opportunity to create your own players and teams as well, it’s another high score for a sports title and you do at least get a little narrative
Sound: 8/10:Again, another standard year for EA really, the sounds on the ice are crisp and clear and the soundtrack is exactly what you’d expect. nothing there for us metal heads but certainly a good mix of current pop tunes.
Replayability: 6/10: This is dragged down a little by the fact that it can be quite hard to know when you should be doing, and how to handle certain gameplay scenarios. Still the online mode and Franchise can help here, and while it’s not hooking us in as much as madden we’re at least getting back in to try and better ourselves.
Satisfaction: 7/10: It’s a solid title with some fairly good graphical improvements, if not spectacular, and a lot of new game modes to sink your teeth into. The only thing we’re wary of here is how hard it could be for newcomers to the NHL series, which they could improve by offering an in depth training mode, similar to the Madden installment this year