As the NHL appears to be heading towards the 3rd lockout since 1994 and the second in the past 7 years, EA has pushed out its annual hockey game regardless of a work stoppage. Much like its past few attempts at hockey games, EA has produced a spot on hockey sim that is a great deal of fun on the ice. The major problems you will run into with this game appear when you attempt to do anything off the ice. 

With the new and improved physics, skating players feel like they have speed and grace but they also feel weightless. Bigger players are just slow’ you do not get any benefit from their size and speed combination. The game no longer has a “sprint” or “turbo” button to press. Speed is now controlled by simply pushing up on the left stick. This new mechanism has tilted the game towards faster teams and you will be able tell from the very first time you play. Playing with the Flyers, I was able to get extra scoring changes by out-skating the other team.. They where never able to out muscle my players, because I was simply able to skate past them. 

During most of my games, I feel like this version feels and looks the most like hockey that you would see on TV (just not this season). Every game is filled with the expected pace and ups and downs. Every time I ended a game I just wanted to start up the next one and before I knew it I was 20 games into the regular season before I started to attend to my GM duties. Once I started doing my GM job is when the game started to fall apart. 

This year I have found that all of the computer-controlled GMs must be smoking crack or are just put in place to ruin your NHL world by making stupid trades involving players or draft picks. You do not have to worry about the draft picks going to the GM controlled teams because they will use them on players they do not need. I saw two different teams draft or drop players their teams needed to keep valid rosters. One team had 4 goalies and 4 defensemen on the team, while the rest of the roster was filled with forwards. These problems were annoying; however, rarely took away from my on ice experience.

This edition of NHL hockey is a pure gem of on ice NHL experience. Mixed in with some ultimate team and off ice distractions, you will be able to fill the void left this winter as the real league figures out how to manage the massive amounts of money they have made over the past 3 seasons. The other modes in the game are worth the investment of time and will keep you entertained. The GM mode is a big disappointment, but you will have tons of fun once the puck is dropped.