NHL 12, simply put, is one of the greatest sports game of all time. Not everyone appreciated this game, but when you consider the realism added to this game, it is hard to understand why so many people didn't like this game.
The Winter Classic was finally added to the game after years of petition through various messageboards and websites. The Winter Classic mode was featured in the NHL 11 demo. This was just one of the many changes added to the game.
The animations and physics engine was improved once again and as a result, players could break the glass, shots could take wicked deflections en-route to the net, helmets could get knocked off and players could be knocked into the bench.
There were major improvements to puck physics, as the puck was no longer tied to the player in an animation. In previous years, a player could wind up for a slap shot and the puck would be tied to the stick like a yo-yo.
NHL 12 also featured goalie fights for the first time since NHL '07.
The biggest improvements came in the form of the Be-A-Pro mode. In NHL 12, the player could choose to start in the NHL or CHL, or they could choose to enter the NHL draft. After playing in a prospect game, the Be-A-Pro character is assigned a draft ranking and they are drafted accordingly.
The game then fast forwards to the preseason and the user is placed on the first line. Each shift the player has to do their job and earn more ice time. After the trial, the player is assigned in the NHL or they are sent to the CHL or AHL based on their age and their other preference settings.
This huge revamp to the Be-A-Pro mode made the game as real as a video game could get. In addition, EA added a Be-A-Legend mode.
Through the experience unlocked during the EASHL online play, legends like Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Bobby Orr and assorted others are unlocked via the EASHL action tracker.
Other minor details included the addition of additional alternate jerseys and teams like the Winnipeg Jets.
Overall, it is hard to argue against NHL 12 being EA's greatest release.