If the new Live the Life mode from NHL 14 is as good as it sounds, the franchise will again lead sports gaming to a new level of realism. On NHL 13, GM Connected was a huge step towards simulating what its like to run a hockey organization.
Live the Life is designed to simulate the aspect of a hockey player's life that happens away from the ice and how those things affect the player's performance. While some games touch on a few non-athletic themes of the sport and role-playing aspects, LTL is embracing the concept as much as—or more—than any other sports game.
Building on the franchise's Be a Pro mode, gamers will have to work their way through the minors. Doing that is about more than just playing well during games and excelling at drills. Your aspiring prospect and subsequent pro will have to handle situations off-the-ice properly.
Success in the mode appears to be about building a legacy. Several interactions require your player to make decisions, which delivers a role-playing game element.
Ultimately, it all comes down to likeability. Who doesn't wants to be liked, right? Nobody is loved by all, though. Each action has the potential to positively impact one area of your likeability and negatively affect another.
You'll have to manage your approval rating with fans, teammates, management and even your own family. Here's a look at the interactions and opportunities you'll encounter in LTL.
Everybody loves a good interview. Some players are as polarizing as Phoenix Coyotes Paul Bissonnette and then there's guys like the Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews who aren't going to give you more than two-to-three word answers.
As a fan of the Blackhawks, I wouldn't trade Toews for anything, but he isn't going to be the next Barry Melrose—or even Darren Pang.
In LTL, events throughout the mode will create interview opportunities.
- Pre-Draft Interviews – The answers given in this situation can affect your draft position.
- Pre-game – Gamers will discuss their recent performance and the upcoming game.
- Post-game – The questions here focus on recapping the game that was just played.
- News – Gamers will be asked to react to events from around the NHL.
There will be single-question interviews or sessions with multiple inquiries. Gamers will have the option to answer in one of four ways with their response affecting their likeability with fans, teammates, family and management.
Shining during games and scoring points with the media and fans generate endorsement opportunities. The more endorsements you earn, the more cash you accumulate.
Off-ice events that could jeopardize your standings with the coaching staff, but build rapport with teammates are part of the conundrums gamers will face within the LTL mode. Sometimes, it may be better to pass on a trip out if you're hanging by a thread with management.
Likeability Meters - Who Loves You Baby?
Your likeability meters can fluctuate from -100 to +100 depending on what you do on the ice and off. LTL is designed to force you to balance the following.
When the fans love you, you'll be cheered, get better endorsements and even become the object of arena photographers when you take control of the puck. God, it's good to be Alexander Ovechkin.
Being disliked could result in several negative events, including being traded.
Teammate likeability defines your relationship with the guys in the locker room.
If you're beloved, you'll be invited to more off-ice events, and you may be nominated for team captain and other perks.
If your teammates can't stand you, you'll be shut out from off-ice events and they may stop passing you the puck when you call for it. That's just rude.
It's good to have management behind you as a prospect. If the suits like you, you'll be able to stave off demotion easier and you'll also have a less-inhibited path to the NHL. Ultimately, this dictates whether you'll be promoted to captain status more than your teammate's love.
How do you feel about this mode as of now?
If management hates you, you may have to toil in the minors longer and you'll be placed on the trading block for breathing. Well, not exactly that, but that's what I took from the description.
If things aren't good at home, you won't perform well. There isn't a ton of information on what types of things decrease your family likeability rating, but I have a few ideas on some decisions that could make you the bad guy at home.
Winning Fixes Everything...Sort of
All the prime stakeholders in your legacy-building project will be more lenient if you're a good player. I'm not sure how much you'll be able to get away with, but I'm looking forward to testing my boundaries.
NHL 14 releases on Sept. 10 for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
All information from EA Sports.
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