Those of you that know me are aware of my love for hockey. I attend as many Hawks games as I can in a year. I play in a couple leagues in the winter. I have even traveled all the way to California just to experience out door hockey in 60 degree weather. I do not claim to be an expert, however I am in their wheel house when it comes to this type of game. I had a bunch of credit on my Xbox account, from some contests this summer and decided to get EA Access. With that came 6 hours of the full game of NHL 15. I just finished those 6 hours and wanted to share my impressions.
I know it is fun to dog pile on EA and the NHL franchise right now. They are doing their transition with this edition of the game. That means the 360/PS3 version is basically a roster update with much of the new function being added to the XBOX One/PS4 version. With that being said, yes there is lots missing. I really did not miss this things, yet.
EA does get somethings right in this version. I really like the puck physics, a lot. You now get the odd bouncer or rolling puck goal. The puck will stop sometime causing the shooter to over skate and miss their slap shot. The player collision and skating system are fun. This is one place where NHL15 shines, control. They left in the 3 control options, Simulation (dual stick), Hybird (Buttons/Dual Stick), Arcade (NHL94). It is the same as it has been the last few years. I like the hybrid, gives me the best of both worlds. This really comes through in practice mode. As stupid as it sounds I really like skating in the practice mode shooting and chasing down pucks. I would love to see more players for 1 on 1 drills, or multiple pucks littering the ice. It really is basically shootout practice. You are the Captain of your “Favorite” team. You cannot choose the goalie you go against. It is super bare bones. This does bring up one of my first negatives – practice mode. I really liked how in previous versions they walked you through all of the basic system to the game – from face offs to snap/slap shots. This is non-existent, as of the EA Access version. I still struggle with the face off positioning, trying to figure out if it is something new or the old system. I really wanted a robust tutorial system to walk me through all the new nuances of the control system. Maybe this will get added in, but I doubt it.
I played a few quick matches, they work exactly as you would expect. I moved on to Moments. These are fun and appear to match the 2015/2016 season as it happens. I look forward to seeing what happens there. They multiple stars for each level of difficulty. I feel my Chicago Blackhawks are woefully underrepresented in that mode, oh well. Hopefully they will have more this season.
I have spent the majority of my time Be a Player mode. This is the only way to create a player currently. And you play this player for it’s whole career. I do like that women are part of the system. I played through a lot of this and I do like it. There are a few things that make it tough. First, default is 20 minute periods. This is a real 20 minute period, so be warned. Secondly, they do not accelerate play when in a penalty box. So if you choose to fight, be prepared to put the controller down for at least 5 minutes. Thirdly, the voice over. The presentation is rather top-notch. It feels like a real NBC broadcast, however after playing about 5 – 6 games the dialogue stitching becomes very evident. I may go crazy if I hear Emeric say “geometric” or Olczyk say “dance partner”. The canned lines for routine events does get a little repetitive at times. In fact, some of it does not even seem to have alternate options.
As of today, I would say pass if you like the previous options. That is a fuller more complete product. EA does say they will be updating it throughout the year. So if you want a hockey game on your new PS4/XBOX One, it might be worth it.
Below is a video of my time with the demo on PS4.