Release Date: September 11th, 2012
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], PlayStation 3
Rated: E10+ for Everyone 10+
It is that time of year again to put on your breezers and brain bucket and get your butt out to the barn to chirp. All you hockey fans out there know what I am talking about, but simply put – it’s time to put your game faces on.
Just like last year and the year before that and well, really the last 20 years we have seen a new release of the popular NHL Hockey game. This year is no different. Thanks to EA Sports, for 20th consecutive year, receive another new NHL title, NHL 13. NHL 13 is said to be “the smartest and authentic in the series.” Bringing you everything you know and love with some new features and much needed improvements. Question is – does NHL 13 just bring us the same old material we are use to? Or does it improve on previous titles and actually bring us the most authentic title to date?
Gameplay in NHL 13 is very straight forward and very much like all the other NHL titles, at least in my opinion. Of course there are controls and moves to learn, but these are more for you to improve your skill and ability to efficiently dominate. Most people will be able to simply pick up the controller, select their favourite NHL team, favourite team jersey and play. I however would strongly suggest doing the tutorial. Although it is not necessary I would suggest it not just to actually learn the controls, but to at least get some practice and re-aquant yourself with them.
The controls on the other hand were far from simplistic. This is not to say they are complicated, but rather require some practice and fine tuning. There is definitely a learning curve. For all you NHL fans out there I am sure the controls will be a breeze, but if you have never played an NHL title, make sure you hit up that tutorial or you may just find yourself seriously frustrated.
NHL 13 comes with many playable options. Along with the quick play option there is also an online vs. mode, Battle for the cup, Winter Classics, a new GM mode as well as PRO and Legend modes. GM mode, the most talked about feature, allows players to either manage, play, or coach their team both with their friends and against their friends. You can have your very own 30 team that is human controlled with up to 750 members.
EA Sports has added some much needed improvements to both the graphics, AI and goalies in NHL 13. First off you have the new “True Performance Skating” which is a real-world physics that has added over 1,000 new game animations. They have tried to authentically replicate both the momentum and speed of real life NHL players. Whether EA has actually accomplish this will have varied opinions among fans. I for one, having not played all recent titles, can not accurately determine on the amount at which they have really improved.
Secondly is the AI, AKA the “EA Sports Hockey IQ”, which includes a completely overhauled AI. All AI players are FULLY aware of ALL other players in the rink allowing them a quicker, smarter and more realistic response. In my opinion this is an impeccable improvement over ALL previous NHL games I have ever played and is actually better than some of the other sports titles I have recently played. Along with the AI improvements you will see a new improved and more versatile goalie than ever before.
Overall I think NHL 13 has it’s ups and downs. The ups being the new game mods, improved graphics and AI. The AI being the best improvement bringing a realism that is mind blowing. And let us not forget about the new playable female hockey legends that were added. The problem is though that I don’t know if these few changes are enough. There is so much debate on whether EA should keep releasing a new NHL title every year like clock work. And I would have to agree that a lot of people have valid points in saying that they shouldn’t.
When you really sit back and look at the improvements made to these titles are they really worthy an entire new release? Fans really want something to write home about, something worth spending $60 on every year. Not the same game with small improvements that really aquate to nothing more than a patch, expansion or DLC.
Now this is not to say the NHL 13 is not at least worth a play cause don’t get me wrong it really is. But like most other sports titles it is best played with friends. But for all you die-hard NHL fans out there I really think you will love the improvements to both the graphics and the AI, not to mention the new GM mode. And in that case this game is a must buy for you.
Replay ability: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5