NHL 15: Review

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Posted September 12, 2014 by Bryan Boshart in Video Games

NHL 15

Developed: EA Canada

Published: EA Sports

Release Date: 09/09/2014

Available on: Playstation 3, Playstation 4 (reviewed for), Xbox 360, Xbox One

Ok, let’s get this out of the way. My name is Bryan and I’m a hockey fan. I’ve been burned before by the sport and team I love, missed seasons, playoff letdowns, and some bad games. EA really started to turn the corner with their games around NHL 2010. Over the next few years they added game modes and the brilliantly simple dual stick controls that helped make a struggling franchise become one of EA’s best. I was ecstatic when I saw the trailers for this years version, which was to be the first on the next gen consoles, but when I began to play it my excitement quickly faded.

The first thing you’ll see when you load up this game is that the menu screen is fairly lacking, and not ascetically either. Seemingly all the major features of the previous titles were removed for the new generation. EASHL, GM Connected, Live the Life, and ’94 Anniversary mode have all been removed (though apparently some will be added in later). It’s not just missing modes, as even some of the better features like coach feedback between shifts or periods has been removed. In Be a Pro mode, you’ll also no longer be able to take your player through the Memorial Cup. In another odd move, practice mode is back to one player against one goalie. While this is good for practicing shootouts, it gives you no idea how to win a faceoff, dodge a defender, or even get passing strength down. Sadly, even Season mode is removed, and the only way to play a season is through be a GM mode. At the very least HUT is still around and you can bring your team into the online arena. Ultimate Team is clearly the best mode that NHL 15 has to offer, at least on the PS4 and Xbox One

Be a Pro mode, which has been one of my favorite modes has been particularly decimated. In addition to the lack of the Memorial Cup, you’ll get to choose which team drafts you (or get selected randomly), and then you’ll oddly be ready to play immediately for your new team. Between shifts you no longer get a grade and advice from your coach, instead you’ll just sit there until your stamina builds up enough to tag back in. It’s inexplicable to me how my freshly created player with no more than a seventy overall score can hop in and out whenever he pleases. Things like that ruined the immersion that this mode was known for.

NHL-15-E3-Trailer-18

Player models look fantastic.

At least the core game play that has made the NHL franchise great hasn’t changed much. The two stick controls are still here and the game plays nearly as smoothly as the iterations of the previous consoles. NHL 15’s controls are so simple that anyone can play and quickly be decent, but the small things like having to decide whether to poke the puck away or go for a hit are what usually ends up deciding the game. The subtle magic that is weaving the puck between two defenders to get that inch of space you need to fire a shot is what makes this franchise play unlike any other sports franchise. My one complaint with the controls is that the “Protect Puck” button somehow renders you nearly invincible to being hit from all but the most direct contact.

The new engine looks pretty great. For the most part, players look just like their real-life counterparts. The exception is when a helmet is removed, as the top of the player’s head looks as if it was drawn on by a child, and is nowhere near as crisp as the rest of the model. The in-play action flows smoothly, and hits feel more natural than previous incarnations. The stadiums are modeled down to the smallest detail, fans look more varied and natural. Even in pre-game, the city flyovers and announcers look good during pre-game. As with Madden and UFC the game has some glitches (though no where near as frequently). I’ve seen pucks teleport from behind a player to his stick, small player teleports, and other odd puck movements. While these glitches aren’t super frequent, it does take you out of the experience a bit.

The arena's look pretty sharp

The arena’s look pretty sharp

NHL 15 does a good job at getting the iconic sounds of hockey right. Pucks that go careening off the pipe have that dreadful (or glorious depending on who you’re rooting for) PING sound. Also here is the satisfying crunch of a player against the boards. Sadly, while the sound effects are perfect, the announcers are far less so.  While the pre-game content is mostly good, the fact that they were regarding Derek Brassard as an offensive dynamo for scoring three goals in two games was absurd. Quite often the announcers react to a play that has already finished.

While NHL 15 still has the glorious gameplay that made the franchise great, the lack of any modes ruins what could have been a solid first effort on a new console. It’s hard for me to tell you what was a bigger let down, my Rangers in the finals, or NHL 15.  Again, I am Bryan and I’m a hockey fan, and I’ll wait until next year for a good hockey game.

*As a side note, a few of the modes will be added via updates over the coming months. In addition, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions still contain many of these missing modes, so they may be a better choice for you fellow hockey fans*


About the Author

Bryan Boshart

Hey, I'm Bryan. I write video game reviews here at We The Nerdy. In my spare time I mostly play fighting games, but play almost anything.

 
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