EA Sports delivers the latest offering in the NHL series, taking the ground work from the impressive NHL 12 and tweaking it ever so gently to provide possibly the best Ice Hockey experience on the current gen consoles. The AI has reputably had more time spent on its improvement this year than the last three years combined. Is this a good thing? You sure bet. For fans of the sport (go Leafs go) this may, unfortunately, be the only NHL action you’ll see this winter.
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Title: NHL 13
Developer: EA Sports
Platforms: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Release Date: 9/11/2012[/toggle_box]
- Hockey IQ – The improvements to the AI have been amazing, Goalies have all new desperation saves that see them clamber for loose pucks, twist side-wards and backwards to stop goals and read the offensive rush far better than in previous iterations. General teammate and opposition AI is vastly improved too. Teammates will play positional hockey, closely mimicking real life hockey and support your forward pushes.
- Be A Pro – One of the most interesting game modes from the NHL series returns and everything the fans felt was missing from the mode in NHL 12 is there. Players can now request to be traded from the club they’re at and can also retire when they feel they’ve achieved all there is to achieve in their Be A Pro career.
- Presentation – Every detail of the Hockey experience is captured. The skater entrances, the broadcast style cameras and cut always in breaks in play look like they’re out of a ESPN broadcast (or a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast for those Canadians in the audience) and the replays between periods are all high quality and very polished. As part of the game experience the commentary pairing of Bill Clement and Gary Thorne (returning from NHL 12) provides great for that game day sound. The stadiums were also well details, with the nuances of each rink captured perfectly.
- Ultimate Hockey Team – Another crowd favorite from NHL 12 returns. Ultimate Hockey Team, much like the Ultimate Team from the FIFA series, lets you pit a fantasy squad against CPU competition or other players online for trophies and Pucks, the in game currency that lets you buy expansion “packs” of cards to grow your team.
- Female Skaters – While players could create female skaters in NHL 12, NHL 13 marks the first time named professional female skaters are included.
- True Performance Skating – The control scheme has received a big update from NHL 12. The skaters now move much more like their on ice counterparts, now requiring a large turning circle to turn at speed and the ability to skate backwards. While potentially difficult to pick up at first, the amount of control it gives the player over their skater is tremendous.
- Live Moments – Live moments lets you re-live classic moments from the history of the sport or milestones from the previous season. A great addition that lets you change the course of history.
- Live Moments – While the addition of this mode excited me, what it lacks is flash back teams to go with the flash back moments. Take Doug Gilmour’s late winner against St. Louis Blues in 1993 for example. Live Moments lets you re-live this, playing as Doug Gilmour. Great, but you’re not playing with the 1993 Toronto Maple Leafs. You’re playing with the 2011-2012 Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead of Felix Potvin in between the pipes, you’ve go James Reimer. It won’t ruin the mode though, it would have added a touch of nostalgia to the game though.
- True Performance Skating – Again, while a revolution in the genre, casual players may not take to the controls as quickly as the die hard fans will. The inclusion of the NHL ’94 control scheme is a neat touch that should allow the casual observer the ability to pick up and play.
- Female Skaters? – So, there’s only two of em? No team or teams of em? Something to look at for the next installment perhaps.
- GM Connected – We’ll have to see how this mode pans out, as more players make there way online time will tell if this ambitious attempt at an online version of GM Mode will be a slap shot or a fore-check.
- Commentary – I know that this is a sport game. And no matter how much audio you record you’ll eventually get some repetition. But unfortunately when you play as the one team in a season or play Be A Pro you’ll soon hear some lines of commentary repeated time and time again.
- Menus – The game has so many modes and options (which is not a bad thing at all) but only so much screen real estate. Options tend to get buried under other menus or there are just too many options on the screen at once and it begins to look untidy.
Polished, well-presented, and engrossing. Three words that some up NHL 13 (or four words if you want to get technical). With updated AI, more realistic controls and a slew of game modes that will keep you wanting more. While not perfect, it definitely delivers the most realistic and fun hockey experience on the current generation of consoles. Be A Pro mode will give you indefinite replay value in itself as you strive to be the next Gretzky or Lemieux. Well worth a look for the hardcore fan or the casual sports gamer alike.
[box_light]We believe that the score is the least important part of a review. It’s tough trying to assign a numerical value to an experience. Furthermore, is there really a difference between a 7.5 and an 8? Gamers place too much importance on arbitrary numbers. This is why our scores are hidden by default. Only look at them if you absolutely need a number between 1-10 to see if a game is worth your time. You can read our review guidelines here.[/box_light]
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Replay Value: 8
Great – Many strive for greatness, and fail. Not this game, it looked greatness in the eye and lived to tell about it. We recommend purchasing it.[/toggle_box]