I hate EA, I really do. For any sports game in which they have to face real competition, they do try. But for the NHL and NFL, they seem to be sitting on their laurels. The Madden series is just getting around to adding some of the better features of NFL2K, a game series that has been mothballing since 05. In the NHL series they made the decision years to stop producing a computer version because of the ability to mod the game and allow you to keep playing the old game with new rosters. I remember how early NHL and NFL games from EA wouldn’t let you even trade players.
So here’s the EA NHL 12 Producer Video, and it’s time to nitpick a bit:
First off on the “ALL NEW FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER” Goalie Fights, this is Footage from NHL 04. That’s right, 7 years ago:
Hey though, how about Glass Shattering Hits? Which existed in NHL 09 but were so poorly implemented that the wrong glass would shatter:
Quality work there EA, wonder how that slipped by?
Another point they make is players losing their helmets from big hits. You know it was a feature from another series, NHL Hitz (goals could reflect in off of loose helmets on the ice) which has been mothballed since 2003.
At the end of the day, EA seems to care more about updating graphics then putting out a competent NHL game. Since the move away from 2D players, games have struggled to replicate hockey play. Too often a game seems to put an over emphasis on one facet of the game or another, making it easy to beat up on the AI. For example NHL 99 seemed to love the stick poke, which would strip any player of the puck regardless of who it was. I used this to my advantage as Team Italy (with Jason Muzzati in net) in the World Tourney the game had, winning gold by defeating Team Canada. I did this multiple times, as the Italian players were commonly too slow to break out of the zone, but the stick poke kept Canada from getting deep enough to get off good scoring chances.
If you have ever seen the game live, you’d understand that even watching it from TV does not compare. While you can get the feel for most sports by watching from Home, hockey transcends that. Playing the NHL games, while they look nice, have the same problem. The incredible speed, the positioning of players, the way goalies can bend and twist to make desperation saves, just can’t be captured yet. In the end I’d expect more of what we’ve seen, occasional Oh Wow moments to go along with a lot of head scratching moments.
I’ve said it for Madden, and will say it about most sports games. They need to stop making yearly releases. Make them bi-annual and give people more upgrades for their buck. For the in-between years release a 20-30 dollar expansion pack which is all the updated rosters, head coaching changes and what not. EA needs to stop gouging the fans, they are going to revolt at some point. Oh and stop lying to us when you remove a feature and put it back in.