Shine up your virtual skates; it's that time again. EA Sports' NHL 14 releases via EA Season Ticket on Friday and in retail stores Sept. 10.
In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated series out there. Perhaps that is due to the sport's standing in the United States, but the developers at EA Canada have nailed their sport as well as any development team.
Every year, the series seems to push the envelope in regards to realism. The game again features over 4,000 players from the NHL and leagues from all over the world.
Having played the demo a good number of times and with the full feature set public, I've got a preview to help bring you abreast of this year's version of the king of hockey simulations.
Here is the vital game mode and release date information followed by a preview.
New Collision Physics
NHL 14 is embracing the physical nature of its sport by adding even more realism to its collision engine. Hits are bigger and more vicious than ever before. It is refreshing to see a simulation-style game go in this direction.
Hockey is a physical sport, and that should be reflected in a video game that prides itself on realism.
Simplifying the manner in which you undress a defender with the puck is a welcomed addition. When controlling a skilled player, it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to have the player's greatness shine through.
A simple left-stick movement and one button will now put stylish and effective dekes on display for those gifted enough to execute them.
Get your goon on—even during play stoppages. The action doesn't stop even when the play does. If you're looking for a fight, you can pick one after the whistle. Players are free to roam and "interact" with other players between plays.
Live the Life
Taking the Be a Pro concept to the next level, NHL 14 now puts gamers in charge of their player's off-ice decisions and behaviors. Answer multiple-choice questions in press conferences; decide if you'll go out for a night on the town with teammates and more.
Conceptually, it is a cool way to simulate some of the potential pitfalls and opportunities an NHL player can be presented with.
NHL 94 Anniversary Mode
In case you're like me and you've been playing the NHL series for two decades, you'll remember the simplistic excellence that was NHL 94. In NHL 14, the 20-year anniversary of the iconic game is celebrated with this mode that allows gamers to play with updated graphics and rosters but with the same simple controls.
This could be the best of both worlds for nostalgic gamers and current fans of the sport.
True Performance Skating
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the NHL series over the last two years has been the skating engine. The animation and motions have been authentic, and this concept has taken the next step in NHL 14.
It was apparent in the demo that momentum and explosion have improved. This makes for smoother, more responsive gameplay.
Hockey Ultimate Team Seasons
As is the case with the other games in the EA Sports lineup, the Ultimate Team mode has added the option to play seasons online against other Ultimate Team gamers. In addition, the chemistry aspect of your team is increasingly important.
Adding players from the same country, league and real-life team will augment your team's chemistry and overall effectiveness. The Auction House adds another option for selling and acquiring players.
Every year, the mode seems to add a new element to make it more addictive for those that buy into the concept.
Look out for my full review shortly after the retail release Tuesday.
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