It’s another year, another E3, so of course there is another NHL game from EA Sports. NHL 14 looks to build upon the new skating engine and really deliver a hard hitting experience. Most people may not think there are enough changes year-to-year to warrant yearly releases of sports games, however, after playing the game, I can safely say there are some high impact changes that will make you glad to pick it up again.
As someone who really enjoys the NHL games and play them every year, I could see almost instantly the changes in the product when I played the PS3 demo. The first big change was in the skating, where plays seemed to turn and stop easier and more fluid than in NHL 13, where far too many times you were left doing a wide turn instead of stopping. One of the things I did notice with the skating was that if you started to go full blast towards the boards and a puck, almost 75% of the time you would just slam into the boards.
Outside of the skating, everything felt like it had a lot more impact to it. Slapshots were extremely hard, with a heavy thud noise when your shot missed and hit the backboard. Hits were also greatly improved, with a real feeling of flat out destroying a forward along the boards with your dman or hitting the forecheck hard. All of this felt extremely fast and the new hitting system really made a huge difference in delivering the best hit possible.
Fighting is the biggest change to the game this year, with a very robust fighting system that fits in so much better with the game than years before. Ask a guy to go and you’ll drop your gloves and grab on from a top down view, allowing for other people on the ice to grab a partner. Gone are the multiple buttons and you simply pull with the left joystick and punch with the right joystick. It looks so much better and much more like the real thing that it really has a lot of impact.
Another change is the new move system where you can pull off better and more customized dekes, adding so much more to the attack. The dekes from previous years are still there, however now you are able to pull and push the puck in multiple directions to really try and fool whoever you are trying to skate past. Speaking of skating, doing so backwards while facing an oncoming attacker has been greatly improved, as your skater follows the puck better and allows you much better ability to defend an oncoming rush.
I left my demo with NHL 14 completely impressed and confident that this is the best NHL game yet. It is a little disappointing that it will not be coming on the PlayStation 4 but that is just a minor hiccup for this polished and highly energetic entry in the NHL series. This is a must buy for hockey fans when it releases this September 10th for the PlayStation 3.