GDHQNHL15-Under Review

Calgary Flames Gameday HQ

For every major next-gen step EA’s taken, we’ve witnessed the sports gaming staple take a step back. The success stories shared between last year’s Madden and NBA Live entries scream at bullhorn volume. It’s been through the company’s other major properties like the FIFA and NHL franchises that have brought balance to the its sports division, the latter serving as its secret weapon for the holidays. As the first hockey game to skate its way onto the PS4 and Xbox One, expectations are riding high for NHL 15. Whether the studio translates those probabilities into another winning season is a debate worth having inside the penalty box. NHL 15’s strengths come in the form of its gameplay and production quality. EA Canada made some adjustments to the physics engine that plays out perfectly on the ice. The puck bounces off the boards in the most realistic fashion and travels smoothly when slapshot across the rink. In fact, the engine can determine when it comes in contact with any thing (jersey fabric, skates, etc.) to shift its direction and speed. The body detailing for each player heavily reflects collisions to where you could end up being stacked at the bottom of a multi-player pile up. Audio receives a boost as well with the crowd interaction and face-off clatter emulating the resonance of a real-life game. Controls are made accessible to novice players looking to pick up on the fast-paced momentum, while easing the learning curve for more complicated actions like corner puck battles or poke checking. Team play is the most dynamic it’s been sinck, making it possible to establish great positioning on offense. Setting up plays in the attack zone and sequencing passes to execute power plays never gets old. But don’t be fooled into thinking NHL 15 is a shootout frenzy. The AI can be tough at times on the defensive end, glitches aside. Yet even as EA went on to upgrade the analog stick controls to perform better fake-outs, make no mistake about it, you’ll be working hard for goals. The controls do allow for faster breakaways and a single push from the right stick will result in executing all major moves. These are impressive feats for any hockey game. However, NHL 15 is not without its fair share of penalties, and by that we mean flaws. For starters, it’s mindboggling to see EA strip some of the series’ more popular modes. Be A Pro career mode doesn’t allow for gamers to work their way up as a minor anymore. Instead they’re inserted in the lineup as a rookie playing full-time minutes. To make matters worse, the game takes twice as long to finish when you’re trapped on the bench watching from a weak viewpoint. Then there’s the absence of GM Connected, the online franchise mode that unified hundreds of players to compete in the same league. Instead, we’re given Hockey Ultimate Team—a new mode created as a source of generated revenue where gamers can purchase virtual player cards and create a fantasy team to play against others online. Minor additions such as the inclusion of a new announcement team in Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk, as well as the full recreations of every NHL arena magnifies the game’s realism. And granted NHL 15 has enough trick plays to sneak it into contention for must-buy sport titles this holiday season, it isn’t necessarily what we consider Stanley Cup worthy. Though if EA’s track record has shown us anything over the years, when it comes to this franchise, it is to expect grander things from it’s yearafter successor. UNDER REVIEW NHL 15 By Alex Bracetti


Calgary Flames Gameday HQ
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