NHL 15 Demo Impressions – Where It Scores And Where It Hits The Post - NHL 15 - PlayStation 4 - www.GameInformer.com
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NHL 15 Demo Impressions – Where It Scores And Where It Hits The Post

This week the NHL 15 demo dropped, and for the first time gamers could play a game of hockey on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (don't worry last-gen users; you're not left in the dust). The demo is by no means the complete game, and as we learned earlier because of this transition, new-gen versions will not include EASHL and GM Connected modes. Even so, we wanted to see how the game is shaping up, so we hit the ice and played numerous matches on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The demo offers just a match between the Rangers and Kings, but ee spotted some familiar problems and also some promising implementations.

Note: These impressions are entirely based on the demo and may not reflect the final release.

The Promising

Better Goalie Awareness In Some Places

Goalies are more active than in previous iterations. They're smart with their poke checks and are much better at tracking the puck. For instance, they won't fall for really obvious left, right, left deke (A.K.A. the triple deke) like before. This doesn't mean they're impervious to tricks, though, as a well-timed toe drag might be all you need to tuck the puck under the crossbar. That doesn't mean it's all for the better. [See Same Scoring Tricks below]. At the very least, they're not making a lot of lateral movements for no reason like in the past. 

The Ice

A lot of fans thought NHL 14 got close to making you feel like you were actually skating, but NHL 15 improves even more. Your players slip and slide and there's a lack of maneuverability when you don't have any momentum. Sharp turns can't be made with ease, and this plays into defense. You can't just jump back into the play after a botched hit, so be careful not to lose the defensive edge.

Commentary That Reflects The Situation At Hand

Fans have been begging for new announcers for years, and this was our first chance to see Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Ray "Chicken Parm" Ferraro in action. Some commentary can come off a bit awkward (especially Doc missing his trademark fire in some situations), but they're spot on at describing the play at hand. Take a two-goal lead, and they'll often comment about that goal being a safety net. Miss a promising shot and Olczyk will joke that he should be on the ice. They even have lines depending on how aggressive a fight gets. So far we're impressed, but we're also hoping that the three provide enough variety where all their lines don't get old too quickly.

The NBC Sports Presentation

The presentation has gone through an overhaul, and it's a great improvement. Seeing actual footage of Doc and Eddie before a game followed by a panoramic view of the arena is a great touch and reminds me that I'd like to be right back on Madison Avenue in Chicago come opening night. It feels just like you're watching a game on TV before it begins with Doc and Eddie assessing each team and how they'll matchup against one another. As when you see these broadcasts on TV, it's just the jolt you need before you're about to enter the actual game.

Crowds, Players, And Arenas Brought To Life

The push to new-gen has allowed EA to give a good boost to the visuals. Players look the most realistic they ever have. The little details, such as how their jerseys drape like actual fabric and not being stiff are noticeable. The fans in the arena have also undergone a huge overhaul; no longer are they legions of soulless doppelgangers, but unique faces and personalities are interspersed throughout. Even the arenas look like their real-life counterparts, adding some much-needed variety and realism.  We'll have to see how all arenas match up, but so far it's promising. This captures the spirit of hockey well, and I hope in coming entries they improve on player reactions on the ice.

Improved Puck Physics

Puck physics is a small detail, but it's important to accurately portray a hockey match. Pucks now bounce out of the net with momentum after a big shot and aren't simply attached to players anymore. You'll notice it most in how it bounces off the goal and posts. This is a lot more realistic, as when you hit the post, pucks fly fast and far. The changes aren't huge, but they're significant enough that longtime players will notice the difference.  

Up next: Our concerns...

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  • It amazes me how EA can let the same problems plague its sports games year after year and never address them, same thing with Madden, even on Next Gen you still have the same problems from last gen. I didn't think the demo was all that impressive and nothing about it felt "Next Gen". The commentary though accurate felt weak and lacked emotion, why bring in a new team just for the same weak results? The goalie A.I though better still lets in some very easy and weak goals, the game play doesn't match the visuals.
  • It still has the same crappy A.I and Goal Glitches unfortunately.
  • Having be an avid, die hard nhl fan, I agree with a lot of the concerns. While I do enjoy the game and will pick it up, this game doesn't feel next gen at all honestly. Some things are different, but overall it feels exactly like last gen games. Playing the other night, my friend pointed out the ridiculous hitting still evident in the game (5'7 Zuccarello shouldn't be able to know down 6'whatever Doughty) So thats still there. And I said board play is non existent. A puck was in the corner and we were both racing for it. I went to hit his character to try to push him into the boards. Instead a weird force of gravity just made me not hit him and go around him, with my opponent, you guessed it, pass left. Doc has no screaming GOAAAAAAAAALS when people score. He is a very intense announcer and this is missing, but I hope only for the demo And come one wight the goal horns and stuff, you can make it more authentic! THIS IS NEXT GEN RIGHT?! I don't care about cracks in the red wings arena stairs or jerseys moving like theres a wind tunnel in the arena. Again Im going to pick this up but i am pretty pissed this doesn't seem so next gen. EA is LAZY LAZY LAZY, I mean you had TWO YEARS! Pucks shouldn't stick to a stick while carrying it up ice
  • The incredibly poor teammate AI has frustrated me year after year. Sad to see it isn't changed in this pretty new package. Oh well, guess I'll continue cursing at my old and inferior-looking NHL 14 while my defensive teammates pass the puck directly to the other team in our own zone time and time again.
  • I had a blast playing the demo. Can't wait to play the full game when it comes out later on this year.

  • It was easy to score on a breakaway. I just held the puck to the left then turn right and backhand shot right behind the goalie. Goal!! By the way the triple deke does work more then it should. The commentary is the same as always. Maybe some extra lines of commentary in there. Its Eddie O who hates the Pens. Sitting in silence is better then listening to this commentary.
  • AS someone who despises sports games and EA annualizations, I thought this was actually fun. The AI could be really *** and stupid sometimes, and the odd annoyance or two but i still had fun and would consider buy it until i remember in 6 months itll be worth 15$ and prob be in the ea access vault.

  • I really wish they would make the non-NHL arenas seem at least a LITTLE like what they really are. I don't need picture perfect, just at least the same looking dimensions. Something you would get by Googling the arena's pictures. I don't want Barona Areena (Espoo Blues) looking just like Honda Center.
  • Overall I really enjoyed the time spent with this demo (I played on a friends XB1 since I am still super broke). I liked how the skating felt overall, and I thought it looked and felt pretty polished. There are issues that I ran in to, the fact that I was able to score 8 goals in the 3rd period was a little insane. Perhaps soon I can pick up a next gen system and grab a new NHL title... it may not be until next year, sadly.

  • Play good D and don't let your goalie be a liability.

  • The biggest concern with the current Be A GM or Be A Pro modes, is they just are untouched or even scaled back. Sounds like they are simply bare bones, absolute minimums. Rammer did an interview and basically admitted the core of the modes was there, but declined to say how much they were touched. Very concerning the modes weren't highlighted AT ALL in the build up to the game, meaning they weren't updated (nothing new to report).

    Be A Pro is essentially broken. I watched a friend of mine in NHL 14 absolutely dominate at the NHL level as a rookie, best stats on the team for pre-season and first 10 games, then get's sent back down to Juniors. WHAT?!?! How does that happen? That completely kills the entire mode, it's pointless. Concerned they haven't touched this mode in 3-4 years now. It certainly seems like it was skipped this time.

    The question is would you rather have great visuals, with no substance, or decent visuals but with a full package of game modes. I think I would rather have the latter, but they skipped a release last year when Madden, FIFA were able to port over decent versions of their games, in FULL. Did NHL not start development on Xbox One until AFTER NHL 14 went gold? Madden must have started after Madden 13, so why didn't they?

    That's why people are upset, it doesn't really matter if it's a first iteration in the series on next-gen or not. You've had the dev kits for 2 years, and still couldn't release a full game.

  • Kimberley Wallace, your doing the NHL 15 preview? Interesting.

    I played the demo. Its pretty much the same as NHL 14, just a new graphical overhaul and some new animations. And that's all I've wanted with the new game, just a different look. I didn't really care for the goalie or player models of the past games.

    Now I can play some Hockey on my Xbox One.

  • Despite being all Englishman I love the pageantry of 'Murican sports, NHLPA '95 was the game for me, fast action big hits. The commentary was always what got the excitement of the ice... 'Yzerman with the wrist shot'... 'Balfour with the big glove save!!'...

    I agree the commentary seems a little wet, no enthusiasm with the shots and goals. Seems to require a little more precision with connecting with the puck too, a free puck in open ice sometimes saw me skate right past it, maybe that was just me expecting it to magically glue to my stick like normal, but that's a good thing.

    I'm a Be A Pro man, hope that improves. Found it boring to go super realistic and sit on the bench on line changes so switched to on-ice all the time. Then had like 60 goals and a +/- of 100 compared to Ovechkin with 30 and +45. Couldn't find a balance.

  • I found getting goals? a bit to easy. every time i aimed at the corner i scored? without fail...

  • I actually didn't like the demo. I didn't think it added too much to the experience. I enjoyed it, for what it's worth, but I don't think, in my opinion, it's worth $60. It had some positives like the look of the ice, the close ups of the players, and the puck physics. But the negatives outweigh the positives for me. The crowd, as much as EA says they worked on it, still look pretty lifeless and I've seen three people sitting next to each other doing the same thing. The clipping is terrible and ease to score is insane. I think I'll get this when it's on sale, but not on release day sadly.

  • Flop. Can someone else make a next gen hockey game, please?

  • A hockey "match"? Who wrote this, Derek Zoolander?
  • If you're not playing a full 20 minute period with normal time speed, stop complaining about authenticity. There are ways to score and that's not a bad thing seeing as most people play with an advancing clock. Who wants to continually play a 1-1 game because it's impossible to break the defense. If you do play positional solid D, you will have all kinds of success at preventing easy one timers. Just sit in the passing lane and the pucks, most of the time, get deflected away. STOP CHASING THE PUCK LIKE FRIGGIN 8 YEAR OLDS!

  • pros easily outway those little cons im so ready for this game!

  • They spend all this time and energy in giving the presentation an overhaul and making the crowd more realistic but it sounds like a lot of the gameplay problems that have plagued this series for years still persist. I haven't made the jump to the next-gen yet but I was considering taking the PS4 plunge in time for Destiny and NHL 15. But now that they have announced that EASHL won't be in 15 for the PS4 or One I think I'm just going to continue to play 14 on the 360.
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