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E3 2013: NHL 14

By
Posted on June 12, 2013 AT 07:00am

Publisher EA Sports
Developer EA Canada
Platform Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date 09.10.2013
Not sure what any of this stuff means? Head on over to our E3 hub for all the deets.

The Rundown

It’s a sports game. The story is made by how you, the player, play it. You need more? Fine. Do you want to make the Columbus Blue Jackets a powerhouse in the league? Should the New York Rangers begin a winning dynasty next year? It’s literally up to you. The only thing I know as I write this is that there is going to be a goalie on the cover for the first time since John Vanbiesbrouck in 1997, and the defending champs will either be the Boston Bruins or Chicago Blackhawks.

The Verdict

It’s never easy to iterate on a yearly franchise, and it’s even harder when those franchises revolve around sports. You can’t add elements that aren’t in the game, and there is only so much fine tuning that can be done. And yet, somehow, EA Sports’ NHL franchise always finds something to tweak to make the game play more naturally for those of us who value the nuances of the sport. And this year, there are three key new features.

The first, and most obvious addition to the casual fan, will be the fighting mechanics. Drawn straight from EA Sports’ Fight Night series, pulling the stick back and pushing them forward will make your players perform haymakers, uppercuts, hooks, and jabs more easily than ever and make fighting worth the five minutes in the sin bin.

Next is checking, and it’s now as natural as running into a player with enough momentum, ­eliminating the second stick for this most basic of hockey maneuvers. Combined with more realistic collision physics, laying out that player who put his head down as he takes the offensive zone never felt so good.

Finally comes simpler deking. Just by pressing a left-shoulder button and flicking the left stick, you can perform one of four pre-programmed moves that will allow your most skillful players to show off on their way to the net.

These may seem like minor tweaks, but to the most diehard of hockey fan, they’re going to be a big deal, as they were for me as I got the hang of them in my hands-on demo. Of course, like most sports games, the more casual player might not take note of these additions, or appreciate them like myself, but should still be able to have a good time if they enjoy hockey enough to play the game in the first place.

Ray Carsillo, Reviews Editor
Ray Carsillo has extensive roots in geek culture, as he’s written about videogames, comics, and movies for such outlets as Newsday.com, ESPNNewYork.com, Classic Game Room on YouTube, Collider.com, and Comicvine.com before finally settling into his role as EGM’s reviews editor. His main goal in life? To become king of all geek media, of course! Follow Ray’s exploits on Twitter: @RayCarsillo. Meet the rest of the crew.

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