NHL 14 drops on September 10th, or the 13th for our friends across the pond, and I'm here to bring you an update on what to expect. When I first found out that the Playstation 4 and Xbox One would be coming out at the end of this year, that led me to assume that NHL 14 would not be very impressive, as I expected the EA team to wait until the Next-Gen systems were released to really upgrade the game, good news is, that I appear to have been proven wrong. Aside from a sliver of disappointment that we have to wait 13 months to play an NHL game on the next generation platforms, (and quite frankly, I'll probably stick with the PS3 for another year or two anyways, college kid money and all) I am very optimistic about the upcoming hockey game from EA Sports.
The first things that were announced at E3 this summer were seemingly innocuous, improvements to skating by adding strafing, and a more in depth Be A Pro, but as the summer has wore on, more and more has come out to make me very excited for this game. Of course, I have to wait to play it until I can give it a rating, but the hype so far is promising. The thing I am most excited about is that they didn't try to mask flaws by adding new features or taking away fan-favorite features so that they can market them as "NEW!" in two years, an EA specialty. No, it appears they concentrated on simply improving what was there and making the game better overall, plus they did add in a really cool mode, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Starting with the Demo, you can definitely tell a difference in the skating, the strafing is a very nice improvement to defensive play. I've found it's much easier to make it more difficult for opponents to enter your defensive zone. Messing around in the free skate mode has been a pretty interesting experience. The one touch dekes are a nice addition, especially since all the old dekes are left in the game. The one touchers are simple, there's only four, one for each direction you can tap the left stick, and the left and right dekes are just mirrors of each other, but they are effective and will be a welcome addition, especially for beginner players. The rest of the demo leads me to the two most exciting additions in my eyes.... NHL 94 Anniversary Mode and all new fighting!
So, we all know how horrible the fighting was in the older games
I mean, what is this? It was horrible. But this year is such a huge improvement, they used the EA Fight Night technology, and it rules! You can overhand punch, underhand punch, grab, pull back, block, and dodge. It's a great system, but I will say it happens a little bit too often, however I am going to assume it's a demo mode that is trying to display the new features. Another addition to the fighting engine is the "Enforcer Engine" which goes into effect when a hard hit or cheap shot is laid on a player, especially a Toews, Kane, Bergeron, or Eriksson (Loui, by the way, is awesome in the demo, I'm going to have to trade for him back in Be A GM). Another player will skate over and drop the gloves to stand up for their teammate, it really adds to the realism. The fighting overhaul garners a 10/10 from me.
As for NHL 94 mode, it rocks. High speed, few rules, hard hits, and lots of scoring highlight this mode. The classic blue ice returns and I couldn't be more excited about this mode. A few complaints are that it won't be available for online play, the same issue that the Winter Classic mode has, and that the EA logo is at center ice for every game, I would like to see the team logo instead, but whatever.
There is also a big change to Be A Pro, attempting to bring it to the way that the very popular NBA 2k series has it (though they don't say that, it's fairly obvious that is the basis for it), a picture is worth a thousand words in this case so here's three thousand words.
My reaction when being traded to the Blue Jackets by the way? God. Dammit.
Anyways, it looks pretty cool and should be an upgrade to a mode which I have personally never found all that entertaining. Hopefully the "Live the Life" features should add a lot of play value to Be A Pro mode.
A few more random tidbits, I am glad that Be A GM was left largely alone, they've been working on it for quite some time over several games, and I thought last year's installment was a home run and I'm glad it won't be messed with very much. They've added an option to increase trade difficulty, made players develop throughout the season, and the CPU can now sign players in the offseason for you (though why you'd want it to, I'm not sure).
Online play has introduced online seasons, which include relegation and promotion. I'm not completely sure how this is going to work, so please leave a comment if you do.
Now for some Dallas Stars centric photos!!!
Here we have the Stars logo at the choose team screen, nothing to see here really as star ratings aren't very telling, in fact we rate out the same as Boston does.
Here, look at Rich Peverley putting a goal past what I assume is Jonas Hiller but could be Viktor Fasth. What happens here is demonstrating the new collision physics that makes goalies even more "live". Jamie Benn skated hard at the net with the puck before taking a low shot and colliding with Hiller moving him out of position and giving Peverley a wide open net. Be careful though, as too much contact will earn you a goalie interference call and negate the goal which really sucks.
This serves no purpose as a still shot other than a close up of the jersey backs, in the video, it was highlighting the improved face-offs which attempt to eliminate the massive amount of tie ups (Spoiler Alert: Based on the demo, it didn't work)
Here's an action shot of the Stars and Kings.
Here's the Stars at the AAC playing the Coyotes.
If you look closely three rows up of the "s" in Tim Horton's, you can see the one and only, fresh off the oil rig, Brandon Worley.
Lastly I have a few videos which are informative and might cover things I missed
NHL 14: '94 Annivarsary Mode: A really cool video with the developer of the NHL games.
How To Fight: Great video on EA NHL's facebook page
NHL 14 Goalies Gameplay Trailer (via EASPORTS)
NHL 14 One Touch Dekes Gameplay Trailer (via EASPORTS)
NHL 14 Collision Physics Gameplay Trailer (via EASPORTS)
So there you go, I wrote exactly 1200 words on how NHL 14 is going to be awesome, will you be buying it?