Hockey season is less than a month away and I’m starting to get very excited. Hockey is the (obviously, in my opinion) the best sport in the world and I cannot wait to watch every single one of my beloved Boston Bruins’ games and yell at my TV. That makes me sound like a psychopath but I know they can hear me even if they are across the country. Anyway, like with Madden at the start of every NFL season, EA Sports’ hockey game, NHL, comes out right before the start of the hockey season.
This year’s entry, NHL 15, is the first game in the series to be on the next gen consoles while also having a version on the older consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3. While the game looks stunning on the next gen consoles, the game itself is a glorified beta.
To start, the visuals in NHL 15 on the Xbox One and PS4 are nothing short of spectacular. The players actually look like their real world counterparts for the most part and each player moves naturally. All the dekes, glides, and hits are all fluid instead of really jerky. This allows for the user to feel like they are in true control of their player. Because the game is more realistic, it’s naturally harder. Goalies will make a lot more saves and you either have to get a really good shot off or screen the goalie to get a goal. I like all that and am very happy at some of the steps the franchise has taken in that direction.
Although the gameplay and visuals are great, the game takes a huge step back in terms of the features it does not offer. This is what I was getting at in terms of calling it a glorified beta. It’s a very bare bones game because of how little is offered. Obvious modes like Play Now, Online Quick Play, and Be a GM are there as well as Be a Pro but that’s really about it.
In Be a GM, you can no longer fantasy draft or even control your team’s minor league affiliate. There is not even an online version of this mode. There is no more single Season mode, so if you want to play a season, you have to play Be a GM.
Be a Pro is back to the way it was in NHL 09. You can either pick the team you want to play for or have the computer pick a team for you. You can no longer play in the Memorial Cup Tournament and get drafted based on how you do. With this, there is no longer a Live the Life mode. No more off the ice decisions and no more pay off for your play on the ice. You can move up and down lines but you cannot go down to the AHL if you do poorly. Another downside to this mode is that you cannot simulate between shifts again. This means that you have to wait to go back on the ice which takes a couple minutes of just doing nothing.
Another subtraction from the next gen game is the EA Sports Hockey League. This was an outrage from fans because it was one of the game’s most popular modes. Although EA has addressed some of the concerns by promising free updates throughout the year which will add modes, not having this mode at launch is a huge downside to the game.
While the game looks great and plays great, the lack of modes kills this game in the long run. The modes that are there are relatively slim and that takes away from the overall game. The free add-ons will be a welcome addition but it’s not enough to save the preliminary score