Publisher: EA Sports

Developer: EA Canada

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4

Release date: Available now

 

When EA Sports revealed that their next generation version of NHL 15 would arrive stripped of many of its core modes you could hear the collective groan of many hockey fans. A curious move indeed when you consider that sports titles like Madden 25, NBA 2K14 and MLB The Show 14 all arrived on PS4 and Xbox One with their core features intact. It's a shame that this story will overshadow the fact that NHL 15 actually plays a pretty good game of hockey.

On the ice, the new physics engine makes for a game that feels much more controlled than ever before. The puck doesn’t just constantly feel stuck to each player, and hits result in animations that seem truer to life than ever before. NHL 15 features stunning graphics and refined gameplay previously not possible on the Xbox 360 and PS3 thanks to the company's new Ignite gaming engine and the raw power offered on the new system. As a result players look and act more like their real-life counterparts. When players make contact both the hitter and his target now feel the blow. In another nod to realism, EA removed the ability for defensemen to easily catch up and lay devastating hits to puck handlers who were several strides ahead. Another area that the developers have obviously put a lot of effort into is the presentation of the game; this is one of the most realistic looking representation of hockey you'll ever see. Thanks to the partnering with NBC Sports, in the booth is the commentating crew of Mike "Doc" Emrick and Eddie Olczyk along with TSN analyst Ray Ferraro, while also incorporating the graphics and sounds that accompany an NBC broadcast.

Unfortunately the great graphics and gameplay doesn't lead to long term replay value when so much has been gutted from the game. And whatever mode has been left in the game has been diminished in one way or another. In Be a GM, you are now limited solely to the NHL. All of the AHL, junior, and foreign teams have been removed. Your level of control has also been decreased. Drafts are all automated. Hit the end of a season, and the game essentially just gives you a bunch of random new prospects. The minor pro AHL is essentially gone here. You can see each team's farm club, but they mean nothing, and players sent down don't seem to record stats. The Be A Pro mode is also a shell of its former self. You can no longer be drafted by an organization and work your way up through the ranks from lesser, ancillary leagues and into the pros. Now, you're drafted by an organization and you suddenly are on the team with no work required of your player at all. This all adds up to dope on-ice improvements but the upgrades aren't enough to make up for the drop off in features.

 

The XXL Endgame

The on-ice portion of NHL 15 isn't really the issue. It's still the solid game of hockey it's been for a while and it certainly is pretty to look at. Unfortunately whatever NHL 15 gains in visual fidelity, it takes several steps back in depth and replay value. - written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)

XXL Rating: M (average)

NHL 15 was reviewed on a retail copy provided by EA Sports