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Posted 03 October 2011 - 03:16 PM
Another season starts with a new version of EA Sports NHL title. Every year the team of EA Sports Canada tries to bring greatest in to their NHL series, with the arrival of legends, broken glass, loose helmets and made many upgrades on their current game modes would this be enough to keep fans from buying the upgrade from NHL 11 or is this becoming a simply a roster update video game.
Let’s start with the game modes:
Hockey Ultimate Team
Last year EA brought to the franchise the Hockey Ultimate Team which is basically a pack of cards you get first and the cards you have is the team you play with. With every game you win or lose you earn EA Pucks which is virtual money where you can buy other packs with bigger names and help create a new dynasty. Your HUT plays in the EAUHL which consist of preseason (demo only), regular season, playoffs and off season (if you get eliminated). The Regular season last about a month where depending what happens during this season you will be associated in a division (Amateur, Pro & Elite). At the end of the post season champions will be crowned for their each respective divisions. So what happens when you become champion? Well you get to show off your great work at every game against your opponent when a banner gets raised up in the rafters.
So what’s new to that complicated game mode?
Well they’ve added healing cards, meaning your players is potential to get injured this year which is adding lots of strategies to create a dynasty. Other types of cards added are Change Position which basically gives you the ability to change a player position to add chemistry into your lineup. And the last types of cards that’s making a debut in NHL 12 HUT is the legends card where you get a legend in your team help you out versus the opponent, sadly these players are way to affective. Just to remind you all the other card types from last year are still in NHL 12.
EAUHL 24/7 is a mode that allows you to play fresh and unique opponent off the EA Sports Servers. Mainly this features downloads 4 teams which 3 are in your rank level and 1 in the top 100. You will get rewarded with your team when you compete and also when your team gets downloaded from the hockey community, so this is the best “WIN –WIN” scenario.
They’ve also added to the ability to play with a friend but sadly those games doesn’t get ranked, and doesn’t affect your players contract. Sadly this is a disappointed, it’s been hard in the NHL online community to find sportsmanlike opponent where the users abuses of the games flaws. But staying with your friends, you are now able to trade your players from friends to friends which that is a great step in the right direction.
Finally the HUT is a great & exciting mode where you can lose yourself for hundreds of hours to be one of the best out there. You can see where you are in the leaderboards against the best and where you are against your friends.
Be A GM
The “Be A GM” mode was completely revamped to give better stats when games are simed unlike previous years where making hockey players had unrealistic stats like 7 points a game was a common thing. So the new tracking engine will take some of the factors, wrist or slapshot accuracy, angle of the shot, was the shot block or deflected, the overall of the goalie and rebound control, etc. With many factors like this, it helps out to narrow down the scoring chances are the stats.
With the new addition of the EA Sports Tracker it helps to figure if you should intervene into the game or simply simed at a faster pace. The Tracker lets you find out the goals getting scores, the shots. You can pause at any moment to find out what’s happening on the ice and try to help out your team in difficulty.
With the GM tracker you’ll be given task and if they are fulfilled, you will earn experience points to upgrade your franchise staff (amateur & pro scouting, your medical staff and your assistant coach). It’s always good to upgrade your staff but make sure the owner isn’t left behind. The owner will also give you task like finish first in the division or make the playoffs this year. Reputation is important, if you keep trying to trade Alexander Ovechkin for Matt Cooked all the other GM will not want to make a deal with you.
To make it easier to manage your team contract situation there’s the contract screen that let’s you look are your salary cap. As a GM you are able to make Tender qualifying offers to RFA’s. Also to hand out offers to other clubs RFA’s. December 1st deadline which is a cutoff date to RFA holding out to sign a contract or they won’t be eligible to play before the following season . Finally this year the mode lets you trade the rights of tendered RFA’s to other teams.
There’s many updates into the Be A GM like retired numbers where a certain players where’s a number the game will automatically assign a new jersey number but the user can manually change it at any time. The ability to trade drafts picks up to 5 years. The authenticity of injuries occurring during the season have been improved. Draft players from the CHL and around the world with the authentic 7 round NHL Entry draft system.
Always wanted to be a General Manager well NHL 12 Be A GM is the closest thing to the real deal. You might have to rebuild a franchise, you might have challenges getting to become a contender but at the end the hard work always pays off. You cannot get bored with “Be A GM” it lets you control a club like all 30 GM’s without the daily stress.
Be A Pro
Here’s something I’m excited to talk about the BE A Pro mode, this year this mode adds a lot more flexibility for the user. The Be A Pro lets you start as a 15 to 19 years old player in the CHL (play up to 4 years), start in the AHL if you can’t make the big club or with the best in the world in the NHL. As a junior you can start from any team in the CHL, You can also start as a 20 year old to make an impression at the Mastercard Memorial Cup. As a draft prospect while playing on the ice you will earn experience points based on your performance. The more you gain to better the chance you get drafted in the first round. For the first time you will now be able to get drafted after the first round, letting you be an underdog.
You can also just pick a club and jump in the big league if you don’t the patience to play many seasons. The choices are there and it’s up to you to make the best of it. But you will need to play in the preseason, if you do well the chance of making the cut are better. If not you’ll have to ride the bus in the minors. Finally you can play as a current pro or junior and it’s up to you to have an amazing career.
There’s many changes that was added into the “Be A Pro” mode, and this year this mode is getting a lot better than expected. With the tracker this year you can sim games from shift to shift so you can also watch it all, or sim the game at a faster pace. After your shift is complete, your coach will tell you what you’re doing well and what needs to be changed in your play. While your team mates are playing you can keep on watching the game, sim to the next shift or do text sim. The Text Sim will bring you to the EA Sports Tracker sharing with you all of the information from goals, to shots, penalties and hits. As a pro you need to listen to your coach, because he’ll give you task to complete during a game. All great players always listen to their coaches it will be the same for your pro to be successful.
With the integration of Legends this year you’ll have accomplishment this year to unlock new legends. This helps you compete every game to accomplish what the legends did in the past.
Now EA Sports made a big deal with the integration of the Legends which are Gretzky, Lemieux, Roy, Howe, Bourque, Chelios, Roenick, Salming and Yzerman. Now this is nothing to brag about , one of the reason is why they couldn’t add more then 9 legends, if you are going to add a feature make the best of it . As soon as they announced this addition many hockey gamers were indifferent and really didn’t care. Unlike 2K sports classic team they’ve simply added a handful of legends. Now this is a let down from the development team to the NHL gaming world. They’ve could of spent more time of adding faces on current NHL players that uses generic faces. Legends are not what this series needed. It seemed that their priorities aren’t at the same places as their fans.
Yeah it’s sweet to play with the great one, but sadly it gets tiring, Adding classic team would of added a lot more interest. Will have to check if the legends are still here next year in NHL 13. Sadly I couldn’t care less.
The presentation this year did get quite an update. They’ve added a few new team intros, per example, the San Jose Sharks will jump on the ice through the big shark head. It’s too bad they didn’t add a variety of team presentation it’s been a few years with the same clip, maybe not remove it but add more. The biggest addition was mostly the new EA Sports Action Tracker, that collects all the important elements of the game and showcase it on the next stoppage of play. If you press start while playing you will see where all the shots, goals and hits were taking from the ice, also you can replay what just happen a few moments ago. This is mostly great for online gaming, when in the past you couldn’t save a goal or huge hit that happened in the 1st or 2nd period. They’ve even added sound for replays, not that it’s was important but surely is cooler to watch.
The Jumbotrons is finally working in every rink. Now this is not a big step forwad but adds to the authenticity of the game and it’s about time. The big screen keeps track of goals, shots, and penalties minute in real-time.
The NHL Winter Classic
NHL 12 has finally went outside to bring us the last year winter Classic with the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field. Now in NHL 12 we have the ability to choose any team you want to play in the outdoor rink. The Presentation looks phenomenon the snow coming out from the sky the player’s breath showing due to colder temperature. Now the game feels the same as any other games. EA dev team did a great job of adding the winter classic. Sadly it would have been nice to add the previous NHL Winter & Heritage classic.
Now it would also be nice in the next following years if the dev team add the ability to bring their outdoor rink and use it for your custom team & your EASHL team. Also if they add the outdoor rink into life they need to add the international size rink for our European friends. At the end of it all there’s not much to complain aboutthe Winter Classic.
EA also added a few gameplay elements this year. First they’ve added the broken glass from a hits and shots, now the only issue I find with this, is that glass always broke on small collision, it didn’t feel natural, the animation of the glass breaking is fine, although the glass should of never broke. And I didn’t have the chance to break the glass from a shot, but supposedly you can. Helmets and masks coming out of players and goalies, very happy to see that back in the game, it’s not over done, which is great, just if they’ve added loose helmets to goalies why can’t they loose their sticks like the players do? But the most rewarding aspect added this year is tackling the opposition over the bench, now we’ll never get enough of those. To summarize all those elements, EA did a pretty good job, they won’t overdue like previous years when they’ve added new elements to their game, they just need a bit of tweaking.
Dynamic Goalies? Not so much…
One of the biggest announcement was finally being able to hit goalies, first I’m very happy that’s it finally in their NHL series, sadly I think they’ve missed it, unlike a collision from player to player you can’t need to use your right joystick to tackle the goalie, simply stake towards him and he’ll fall awkwardly. And also you can’t hit the goalie if the puck isn’t close to him, your player will just do like the years before and hit a barrier, now they say everything is live when it’s not, it’s better but needs improvement. And that’s a bit deceiving for hardcore gamers. Finally as a goalie this year, you have the ability to fight a player or the opposition goalie, it’s not something big but it happens once or twice a year.
The Physic Engine
This year EA tries to put more effort to make sure the games feels more authentic. The player physic has a new meaning this years, it’s simply not just an attribute in your player overall. They’ve added many new animations for the hitting this year which most of them are fluent. They are awkward animations where player are being check and they will land on the front which look bizarre but for the most part the engine is going to the right direction.
Finally not all of the players have the same knowledge, this means player will try to anticipate a play even though their team mate doesn’t have possession of the puck, meaning player offensive like Ovechkin will skate towards the offensive zone even though his team doesn’t have the puck. This creates chances of scoring or if the defensemen fails to get the puck to their offensive player a 3 on 2 or 2 on 1 could happen in their zone.
The Developer team added 15 signature traits this year to add move authenticity to the game, just like the anticipation AI the player will play like their real life counterparts. So every teams, leagues feels different. They have different traits for when player has the puck or not.
Making a first to the series is the net battles where defensive and the offensive player collides where one of the player will try to tip, get a rebound or pass in the slot to get a goal while the defensive player will try to knock him off his skate or hold to his stick so he doesn’t get a scoring chance. The net battle varies from the player’s offensive awareness.
Gameplay Additions & Fixes
They were lots of addition this year in NHL 12, where like players can redirect one-timers, one knee shot (depending of the scenario and for skilled players), tuck the puck around the net minder and roof shots which is quite over done, too many times the goalie should of stop it from the position he was and the player roofs it. Now the aiming is too precise, I don’t have a problem when players have a few seconds to shoot it’s when their stick is far from the body, on their backhand and looks quite awkward and puts it over the goalie. Too many times this has happen; they really need to fix that issue.
Puck Physic has been tweak now, so you will see the puck roll and slightly chance direction, very good addition. The new skating engine is more fluent, looks more natural than previous years. The stay on-side logic is maybe one of the best elements I enjoy having into the game this year, which saves a lot of whistle this year in NHL 12.
Players hit near the bench will add life in the bench where the player and coach will try to avoid the impact coming their way, finally there’s something happening the bench. You’ll also see a teammate give his stick from the bench when his team mate broke or lost his stick. The helmets/masks also come off like I’ve said previously and if you skate towards it will move on the ice. For the CHL teams when a player loses his helmet he will go directly to the bench due to the league regulation.
Finally they’ve added, hustle/fatigue skating, new CPU back checking logic and new animation for line changes from defensive pair to the offensive line which will enter of exit their appropriate doors while new line waits sitting on the boards.
To summarize the gameplay, many new things were fixed and added, although it would have been nice to use the word Dynamic up to another level, where you could collide with a goalie even if the puck isn’t near, hit your own team mates, hit the referees which reminds me that EA needs to add the two linesmen and 2 referees system on the ice, it was done from another game developer and there’s no excuses anymore. The hitting needs some tweaks but for the most part it’s mostly corresponsive.
A new ranking system
This year the dev team added performance points that are given at the end of an online game. Basically this is to rate the way you play. This system is a bit more complexes and represents more the way you play. If you dominate the game in shots, time on attack but still end up losing the new system will make sure that you don’t lose as many points from previous years.
EASHL (EA Sports Hockey League)
Alright this is probably they’re most played mode online but if you don’t know what is the EASHL here’s the basic, you control your be a pro character and you create yourself a team and you play up to all 6 position of the team on the ice versus another human team. Your team competes every month in a season and after the season is over your team makes the playoff to win in their respective division (amateur, pro & elite) championship. This year EA added a new ability to have different player type where in the past when I player wanted to play defence and his pro was set for a center he had to go in his pro setting reset everything off and build back his player while his team mates were waiting impatiently in the dressing room. Now you can set up player for every position and all you have to do is selected where you want to play your next game. That’s easy!
The Players levelling system has been overhauled where all the six levels are still in the game (amateur, rookie. pro, veteran, superstar & legend) but they’ve added 3 rank in between, so the progression is smoother and more virtually realistic. Player and goalie progression are splitted apart so you will need to play all the games as a goalie to progress on becoming a legendary goalie.
Pro Progression Points are in the EASHL which is the same thing as the performance points as when you play a 1 versus 1 online game. They’ve also added the EASHL all-star awards which give the user a chance to be mention in the leaderboards as an all-star. All the top gamers will be displayed in their appropriate position in the League history screen for all users to see. To reward the all-star players they will have an in game overlay display with an all-star trophy in the following season. Also when playing versus an opponent you’ll like to play with, you can scout him via the new club scouting system in the game pause menu and look at the stats of all the human controlled users.
Create your Pro Female
Alright for the first time in a sports game EA Sports added the ability to choose the gender, that’s right for all ladies out there fan of the NHL series you can now play as your respective gender. The only down fall for you ladies is that EA only gave you two choices from generic faces, unlike their counterpart males which have over a 100 of faces that they can modify. It seemed a bit rushed from EA to add the girls into the game, hopefully all of you girls and women get better treated next year.
Sadly NHL 12 isn’t an upgrade to customize your team uniform. It would have been nice to add more jersey templates, more NHL logos, ability to choose from the junior and European logos. This needs to be revamped by adding the ability to create your rink, decide the size of rink your team plays on and which rules are applied (NHL or international). The ability to create your rink was possible and it needs to make a return to the franchise.
My Thoughts on the online gameplay:
The online mode for NHL 11 was good but surely needed some major tweaks after a few months after it’s released. Hoping in NHL 12 the major issues would have been fixed well it isn’t the case. There’s many goals from previous years often goes in where it a real life scenario it should of never go in. The dev team often said to their fans not to uses the exploits, but they haven’t done anything to fix the situation. First you can score many goals the same way and the goalie will always bite, they need to add an artificial intelligence to their goalie so if a players scores or try to scores a certain way the net minder will remember to cover the angle or be well positioned. Talking about goalie position, they are mostly off position on many shots. Goalies must react sooner than this.
It’s been already 3 tuners in the first month of the game since its release, and sadly the cheap goals going in on increasing as a faster pace than previous years. What are those game tester actually testing these goals have brought issues for many years by now. NHL 12 dev team seems shuffling many settings because the game is changing from weeks to weeks.
Is the online totally awful? No of course not NHL 12 is still a strong game, If you play versus a friend that has a knowledge of hockey this is the best game to play without a doubt. The game is always getting stronger but don’t base yourself of leader boards with the way some gamers’ play the game and exploits ever weakness.
NHL 12 not friends friendly.
The dev team created a system that when you play versus your friend the game won’t count, now okay some users may abused from that, but some gamers rather play a friend since it’s the only actually way they will enjoy the games. Friends aren’t on your friends list for no reason, they usually are fair players were you have a blast playing a good old hockey game.
NHL 12 looks great but there’s no major upgrade from the previous year. It’s sad to see that the most of the NHL players are still generic faces. It would be understand for the other leagues but for the NHL that is not acceptable. The crowd would need a fresh update as well.
The commentary of the NHL series flows well into the game, although year after year it get repetitive. Many hockey gamers want new commentators, but I seriously think if they just added a 3rd voice to support them it could do the job and make the commentary fresh once again. The sound from the fans cheering and the action happening on the ice couldn’t really be any better.
There’s no doubt that NHL 12 gameplay is great, there’s no major tweaks to be made. Anyone can pick up this game and enjoy it until the next one comes out. NHL 12 has to ability to play with classic or default control so anyone can play and have a blast!
Game Modes / Longevity : 9.5
NHL 12 offers a lot of game modes, and there’s many hours that can be spent on that game. You won’t see so many game modes from what NHL 12 offers. It’s really in the game!
NHL 12 Presentation is an upgrade, the action tracker adds a lot in the game. The Player highlights are always fun to watch as well. The only downfall that it gets repetitive after a while the same cut scene from a different angle doesn’t do it anymore.
The game modes are awesome no question about it. The NHL series development team needs a find a way to fix their exploits and stop asking the gamers to stop using them. It’s been a few years now and it’s not acceptable to blame the person who buys the product. EA needs to stop making the gamers stop playing their friends; this creates more games where users use the exploits.
NHL 12 is a great game at the end of it all, yes the online gameplay is poor but if you play with a buddy you will have an awesome time. The amount of game modes makes you drools. You can’t finish this game before the next version is out. NHL 12 guarantees plenty of exciting playing time.
Xbox Live Gamertag: Luc Wolfe | PlayStation Network ID: lucwolfe | Founder & Creator of CTN Established in June 2006 (8 years of awesomeness)
Posted 04 October 2011 - 02:37 AM
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Posted 05 October 2011 - 05:35 AM
Former senior staff ArenaCenter.net (2002-2009)
Yes, the classic All Arena Update when hockey was played on PC.
Posted 05 October 2011 - 12:21 PM
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Posted 07 October 2011 - 07:20 AM
Xbox Live Gamertag: Luc Wolfe | PlayStation Network ID: lucwolfe | Founder & Creator of CTN Established in June 2006 (8 years of awesomeness)
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