Release Date: Sept 10th, 2013
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], PlayStation 3
Rated: E for Everyone 10+
It’s that time of year again! Time to put your toque, breezers, and long Johns on cause Hockey is back eh! And when you succesfully score that clapper don’t forget to get your celly on! Wait. What?
So here we are again. Prime time for our annual sports releases. And on the heels of the release of the newest NHL title, NHL 14, is this years title really worth it? Or is this game just like last years? With most sports titles I often hear fans complaining “It is just like last years!” Well of course there are always graphically improvements, twerks to the engine and a new cover etc. but are fans getting a new authentic enjoyable experience that’s worth another $60?
Just like all the other previous years in the NHL series, NHL 14 gameplay is very straight forward. One could pop that disc in and play with minimal effort. Having played NHL games my entire life this could just be my experience, but I personally have never had a problem playing any NHL title. For those of you new to the series there is a tutorial option to give you a bit of comfort as you begin your hockey journey. You will also be given the opportunity to choose a difficulty setting before playing that is geared towards your own personal skill level. Whether you are a NON- NHL Gamer or an Extreme NHL Gamer their is a place for you in NHL 14.
The controls on the other hand are kind of complicated. They are definitely not straightforward like the gameplay and are far from simplistic. However, this is not to say they are too hard or even impossible to learn and master. They do require some practice and fine tuning. Which means there is a learning curve. But practice makes perfect and the more you play the better you become. For all you veteran NHL fans out there I am sure the controls will be easy peezy, but if you have yet to play an NHL title it wouldn’t hurt you to hit up that tutorial. Let’s not forget the addition of the NHL 94 controls. Which is wicked awesome as it gives you the ability to play the VERY simple classic controls from that Retro NHL 94 title.
You are going to notice the return of some of the same modes from NHL 13; GM mode, Be a Pro mode, and the Winter Classics all make their return. GM mode; the most talked about mode from NHL 13, allows players to either manage, play or coach their team. Both with and against their friends. Be a Pro mode (Now called Live the Life) has also returned but with some changes. You will be able to play as either and up-and-coming star or a current star and earn endorsements. You will also be able to do other things like desgin shoes and play around with the media as a way to increase your fame and popularity. Don’t get too excited cause it’s not as in depth as other games like the experience fans get in NBA 2K, but it does give you that feeling of what it would actually be like to be a NHL player.
So what’s new you ask? Well NHL 94 Anniversary mode is and well it is pretty awesome. Even though it is not the original retro version of NHL 94 it is still pretty sweet. Basically it is a modernized NHL 94. It comes complete with the retro rules and controls. As well as that blue hue to the ice and stars around “selected” players. I was a little dissappointed it wasn’t the original title itself as it had improved graphics, controls and the NHL 14 rooster. But I still enjoyed each and every minute.
When it comes to graphics and physics I don’t notice much of a difference. The problem with releasing a new title each year is that the graphical improvements are so minimal it is really hard to tell. The only way to really notice the improvements is to pick up titles multiple years apart or set up back to back years side by side so you can easily compare them. Either way the only changes I really noticed was the imporvement on collisions and fighting.
When it comes to the improved collisions, NHL 14 is running the same engine as last year and shows no notable differences when it comes to all other physics in game but it does make NHL 14’s collisions better than any other NHL title to date. When it comes to the fighting aspect you will also notice some big improvements. Using the Enforcer Engine, based on EA’s fight night boxing game, fans will notice a 3rd person view where all their teamates stay and the refs circle you waiting for the chance to blow the whistle. Controls change to a simple punch, dodge and grapple to give players a way more natural feel. These changes definitely make NHL 14 the most violent title to date and thus making it the most enjoyable.
Overall I think NHL 14 is great. It has it’s ups and downs, pros and cons, positives and negatives. But ultimately what it comes down to is if you truely enjoy Hockey. There are very few changes in my opinion to justify spending another $60. Especially if you already have NHL 13 on your shelf. But true hockey fans aren’t really going to fuss over the changes because they just want to play. I honestly found myself mostly playing the NHL 94 Anniversary mode because my heart lies with the classics. I can never get enough of those retro games and the nastolgia is enough itself to make one reconsider not picking up this title.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5