I may not know too much about the world of hockey, nor the inner dealings or turmoils of being a fan of one of the NHL teams (I’m still hoping to get drafted into the Monroeville Zombies) but one thing that is clear about this title is it is made by people with a serious passion for hockey. Read on to find out whether this title is on the Wayne…Gretzky. Bad pun? Care to find out whether this title is skating on thin ice?
Oh, just read the review already.
In EA’s latest NHL offering, the sheer scale of the game is staggering. When it comes to modes, you have the choice to play as an individual player, rising through the ranks of hockey stardom in Be A Pro mode. Likewise, you can play as a manager, and try out all the wheeling and dealing aspects of making a Stanley Cup worthy squad without ever having to pick up a hockey stick.
All that stacks atop all the other expected modes for a sports sim, with multiplayer both local and online, a season mode and also going straight into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Whilst I’m not claiming that these modes are all new to the series, or even the hockey genre, they are all handled well and are extremely fun to play.
Once on the ice, the game has a variety of different settings to adjust the difficulty to your liking. You can affect various attributes for both computer and human players, such as the strength or accuracy of shots. This allows you to cater the game to your level of play.
Whilst it may not be to everyone’s tastes, NHL offers a fantastic rock soundtrack with artists ranging from CKY and Greenday to Rancid. After playing other EA Sports titles, you notice that they accompany each release with a unique soundtrack, and with NHL 10 they succeed in immersing you in the world of that sport. On top of this, the commentary is fast-flowing and rarely repeats itself with comments ranging from specific details of play to nostalgic reminiscing.
As mentioned before, the Be a Pro mode allows you take a custom character through the ranks of hockey wonderland. For me, this was the highlight of the game. Despite my lack of allegiance to any particular team, I found myself engrossed with the Red Wings team after making it through the draft.
I found myself cursing and praising my fellow team mates on each moment of misery or joy respectively, and even developing a close personal bond with my fellow offensive player, Draper. It may have developed into a man crush; I will say no more.
That isn’t to say the game is without flaws. Sometimes the AI was incredibly sloppy, even to the point where one of the opposing team began doing nothing but spinning in circles slightly left of the goal. Furthermore, the Be A Pro mode is let down by a considerably lacking amount of customization when creating your avatar.
There isn’t a whole lot in the way of innovation in this title, which I think is true of any long-running sports game, but what you have is improvements and additions from previous year’s iterations. The added element of board-play, for example, being a small addition that just adds to the overall immersion into the world of hockey.
The graphics of the game don’t seem to be a huge step, if any step, above the previous year’s release of NHL 09, but this in no way detracts from the game. With all the modes on offer, and the attention to detail within each one, there is enough gameplay to keep you on the ice until next year’s release.
NHL 10 is clearly EA Sports’ finest hockey title to date. It shows improvements (however small) in almost every area, and it seems EA is coming close to perfecting the ultimate hockey game. Whatever slight flaws the game shows are easily overlooked due to the wealth of excellent content in other aspects of the game. Any hockey fan should already own this game, but if you are sitting on the fence on this one, I urge you to give it a go. So strap on your boots, buckle up your pads and get ready to hit the ice, as this is a game not to be missed.
More focus was needed on the customization elements of this game, as they felt somewhat lacking in an otherwise exceptional offering.
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With a difficulty to suit each player's experience, a mode to suit each player's stylem, and the most realistic hockey experience yet, it's hard to find fault in NHL 10.
The commentary is entertaining and rarely repeats itself and the music fits the tone of the game perfectly, however, a somewhat small tracklist is disappointing.
From season mode to Be A Pro mode, there is enough single player activity to keep you going, and if multiplayer is what you're after then this game will keep you going until NHL 11.
From the veteran to the rookie sports fan, there is a massive amount to enjoy in this game. Any hockey fan should buy this game immediately, and be prepared to not let it out of their sights for a long time to come.