The beauty about video games is that even though the league is fighting over millions of dollars, you can still get your hockey fix with EA Sports NHL 13. EA is known for its attention to detail and for having the best sports games on the market. With NHL 13 they do not disappoint and bring a new level of realism. The days of just needing to know the shoot and pass button are over. EA has set a new standard in hockey games with NHL 13.
The attention to detail can be seen right from the start. You are asked to pick your favorite team and from this point on, that team logos and colors will be the backdrop. NHL 13 is a game of choices. You can basically become anything and do anything, thanks to the new GM Connected mode. EA Sports is calling it the largest sports dynasty ever in a sports game. Here you can be a manger, a coach or even a player. You and your friends can run your own NHL league. If you ever thought season mode was not enough then this is perfect for you.
The gameplay has come a long way and you can tell they spent time working on it. True Performance Skating was added and really makes a difference while playing. The controls were smooth in past years but with these newly added features it feels like you’re playing in a real game. The days of being able to turn or do a 180 and still be at full speed are over. In addition, the AI is much tougher and reacts more realistically. For the average fan it will take some time to get used to, but the hardcore fan will enjoy the enhanced challenge. The CPU finally “dumps and chases” the puck in the zone, and the new behaviors make it tough on players.
Two other game modes that stand out are the Be A Pro and NHL Moments Live. Be A Pro allows you to take a player and work him up to the majors. From having challenges to work on, to tips from coaches, this is a feature that a gamer can get lost in for days. NHL Moments Live allows you to re-live the biggest moments from last season and see if you can step your game up and be clutch or if you will be making ESPN’s “Not Top 10.” As of release there are only a few moments from the previous season, with the promise that more will be added as the season progresses. I was hoping for more from last season, as each of the moments gives you incentive to play it at multiple difficulties, which allows you to earn more in-game credits.
This year EA Sports did a lot of work overhauling the game’s presentation. NHL 13 has by far one of the most realistic presentation packages of the series, with virtual games truly reflecting their real world counterparts. Compared to other EA Sports titles NHL 13 has by far the best replay system. During game stoppages you’ll get a timely replay showing off a big play during the last gameplay set, plus you’ll get true analysis of what you’re seeing in the replay. The replays don’t stop there, either, as after the game you’ll get a nice highlight package showcasing the top player of the game and a breakdown of his performance.
For those of you that want to play the game exactly as you see it on TV you can try out the new True Broadcast Camera angle, which is visually nice but takes a little getting used to if you’ve only played NHL titles with the standard ice camera. Other nice subtle changes to the game’s visuals include an improved HDR lighting system and better stadium replication including animated power rings around each stadium. The bottom-line is the game looks great and when you combine all the tweaks and additions you get the best looking NHL game yet.
NHL 13 will satisfy both the casual and the hardcore hockey fan. The depth of the game is staggering, and it is easy to lose track of time and find yourself playing until the sun rises. With a lockout looming, this may be the only hockey people will be seeing, so get out and get this game and start your GM Connected league with your friends.
A copy of NHL 13 for Xbox 360 was provided to us for this review from EA Sports