Is this year's game better than the last?
That's the big question with sports video games each year—how much improvement was made from the previous installment. Madden, The Show and the 2K franchises put out good products each year, but never seem to take a significant leap in overall quality.
You get new players and teams and a few tweaks here and there. Ultimately, nothing life-changing.
EA Sports has long had a good thing going with the NHL franchise, and its latest incarnation is something to marvel at.
Without question, NHL 13 is the best sports video game on the market.
Looking at the game, the stand-out additions include the True Performance Skating, EA Sports Hockey IQ and the GM Connected.
The skating feature was made to ensure that each player's technique in the game is almost identical to their motions in real life. "Motion capture" was used to create a player's explosiveness, top-end speed and momentum. All of this makes it harder to control players, but ultimately more satisfying and closer to reality.
The Hockey IQ has extended the strategy options for each player, allowing certain players at varying positions to make split-second decisions on the ice—incidents that occur countless times during an actual hockey game.This may frustrate some people, but anyone who appreciates the essence of the game will surely smile and stare in wonderment at some of the idiosyncrasies of each player.
The skating improvements strike me as an important step for the franchise. In older versions of the game, certain players who were known to be slower skaters could beat faster players to the puck. Now, a player like Milan Lucic won't stand a chance going head-to-head with a speedster like teammate Tyler Seguin.
The GM Connected also allows you to link up with friends, all the while being able to control the happenings of your league with a mobile app. There are countless other additions, all of which only work to enhance the amazingly realistic world the EA Canada creators made possible.
With NHL 13, sticks break, helmets get knocked off and players continue to get knocked into benches.
Basically, it just keeps getting better.