The lights are on
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.
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.
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.
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
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...
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
Nice write kim