Is it time to throw down? I think so!
This year’s professional hockey season began with a lockout. For many people this meant pay cuts, less work, and even loss of jobs. For EA, they worried their beloved NHL franchise would see drops in interest. And in some areas there was a bit of a falloff. But finally terms and agreements were made and hockey was finally back. This couldn’t have come at a better time because the numbers for this NHL video game franchise went through the roof. Sales, downloads, and gameplay skyrocketed like never before.
That was for NHL 13. NHL 14 looks to be even better, possibly the best ever. Many of the flaws from past editions seem to have been corrected and this newest installment will have the coolest features combined into one game. My biggest gripe has been that the hits in NHL 13 weren’t as consistent as I wanted them to be. Fear no longer, because hits and player contact for NHL 14 has taken a huge leap forward. Before, when it came to hits, we would see animations like guys being checked at the shoulder but taking the force as if being bulldozed through the chest.
The worst was when you lined up an opponent perfectly for a major collision, only to hitstick him for no effect what so ever. Not this year—as this time around, your brutish mentality will be rewarded. Using the right analog will still be the main punishment tool. But now, depending on your player’s size and attributes, you can simply skate at opponents using left analog and bring them down with authority.
Contact between players doesn’t stop at big body checks but rolls over to fighting as well. In the past, when a fight was initiated, we would see no one around them and the guys stand at the same height, even if they weren’t in their ratings, and see them duke it out in what seems like an always fair fight. Not anymore; if a 6’4" wingman gets into it with a 5’8" defenseman, the animation will show the difference, not only in height but in toughness too. Adding more touches of realness, teammates will now be standing around, in audience, as you lay fisticuffs to some bruiser.
A few other little features have been added or tweaked for the betterment of the game, such as one-touch dekes and defensive strafing. One-touch dekes are the same from last year except now it’s possible to perform them with just a two-button combination instead of the old three-button confusing setup. With strafing, you will notice defenders having a much smoother and efficient way of blocking clear lanes.
It’s all about the hockey trifecta “aggression, speed, and skill” in perfect harmony. So strafe, deke, hit, and fight your way to victory later on in the year, when NHL 14 skates into town on Xbox 360 and PS3.