NHL 09's EASHL: Performance-Enhancing Not Just for Real-World Athletes Anymore

TopShelf JerseysCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2009

Who would have thought that performance enhancing drug use would be as widespread in the world of Cyber sport just as it is in our perceived reality?

I am specifically referring to Electronic Arts. Video Game Giants on-line hockey league the EASHL. The NHL series from EA has been extremely successful for at least a decade and with the advancements in computer player AI and gaming physics models these games can be extremely realistic and even entertaining to watch for spectators.

However as good as the NHL09 rendition is, there are unfortunately flaws and in the XBOX 360 version even worse,  a method of enhancing the attributes of your on-line player artificially. Thus I draw the comparison to the real world usage of steroids.

As most people are well aware Steroids can enhance the level of an athletes performance and abilities in ways that could not be possible without them. The usage of these substances is widely recognized as a fast tracks/shortcut cheat whatever.

For sometime now the on-line gaming world has had to deal with those individuals that would also use such cyber-steroids to artificially enhance there characters to ridiculous proportions. For my part the only game I really ever play is NHL09 so I must speak of what I know. So this is not about the World of Warcraft or Halo or the plethora of other sporting titles out there. It is about hockey.

This year Electronic Arts provided an unbelievably good on-line rendition of a hockey league. Where individuals can form on-line teams and go head to head with other teams from all over the world. My own personal team consists of 2 Canadians 2 Americans and a Swede. All of us playing different positions that we have developed our players to play through an achievement based reward system. We are good sometimes maybe great LOL but no doubt there are other players and teams who are more experienced and better. However on any given night you might run into a team with a first division ranking and give them a run for their money. That is if they are not "Juicing or Tweaking".

Sadly as seems to be the way with our species if there is something to be exploited some jerks will find a way to do so. In the case of the XBOX 360 version of NHL09 it has come to light that there is a way to manipulate the game to allow you to achieve insanely unrealistic character attributes. The Cyber Steroid here is know as the “99”cheat and allows players to max out their attribute stats in the 30 or so categories available. Normally individuals would be awarded these stat points when first creating their character and then when they had achieved certain goals and objectives. Like playing 100 career games etc.

These attributes are essential in the creation of your player and is one of the cornerstones to the realism of the game that Electronic Arts intended to put forth.  

The individuals who boost tweak or juice using these cheat codes to create players that seem to have the combined gene pool of Gretzky/Lemieux/Ovechkin/Crosby and any other great player totally undermine the experience and chance for hockey player wannabees to really enjoy themselves. EA will be hosting a real world Tourney in Vancouverlater this year pitting a number of the top ranked teams in competition for real world prizes and accolades. It will be interesting to see if they will be conducting the equivalent of cyber blood-doping tests to qualify whether or not the individuals and teams at the top have made it there through hard work and development of their skills or by exploiting glitches and cheats in what is otherwise a phenomenal game.

Adam E.