The lights are on
NHL 13 is making important changes to players' skating, and what better way to understand this than to spend some more time with the game. We got some extra hands-on time with NHL 13 and got a glimpse of some of its possibilities.
You always hear about players that can or can't skate in the NHL. This game can skate. The improvements to this area of the franchise are fundamental. Players with the puck can create more because they have acceleration and top speed characteristics that differentiate them from other players. It's fun to come through the neutral zone with speed and know that you can turn the corner on a defender who isn't positioned correctly because they haven't respected your speed.
Defenders aren't totally at a loss, however, as flying down the ice comes with a cost. Less-skilled players won't be able to do a lot with the puck when they're blazing down the ice.
In general, I think the skating feels really good. I get a sense of who were the faster players on the ice (as well as just the better skaters overall), and turning seemed realistic. Even though it was harder to play defense since you really have to manage your gaps and speed through the neutral zone, I welcome this challenge.
Puck carriers and even those without the puck in EASHL will also be able to use the left trigger feature, which opens up your positioning (like defenders' Vision control) for better passes into the slot from the corner or behind the net, and to face the puck for one-timers.
Although I didn't see the garbage goals that I'd like to see in the game similar to what you see in real-life, NHL 13's goalies stood out. I like seeing them exercise more limb-specific saves – including watching them raise a shoulder or elbow for a shot that was going high over the bar. I even saw Brodeur stack the pads – although I should caveat that by saying I'm not sure if the game will include player-specific moves like that or if it was just a general goalie animation.
One of the more underrated aspects of NHL 13 that I'm excited to dive into and saw a glimpse of, was the line-specific strategies. In the demo I was playing, the guy I was playing against perfectly executed the dump and chase. I know it's a play style that elicits groans from hockey fans, but the game performed it perfectly, with the defender throwing the puck in down the boards or across the ice and the opposite-side winger screaming in the corner to get it.
A lot of us love playing video game hockey for the nostalgia we get from the sports' arcadey past, but NHL 13's push towards more realistic skating is making sim-based video game hockey just as fun.
NHL 13 comes out for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 11.
For more on the game, take a look at this trailer, read about some of its features, including Be a GM mode.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
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