NHL 15 Gives Glimpse into Next-Generation Hockey Gaming

 

St. Louis Blues score goal against Chicago Blackhawks                                  (Screenshot by/ Mike Cotsalas)

St. Louis Blues score goal against Chicago Blackhawks (Screenshot by/ Mike Cotsalas)

By: Mike Cotsalas

It’s time for the future. EA Sports has released its new wave of sports video games, including NHL 15. This year marks the first year that the series has become a part of the eighth generation gaming consoles, the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. The game was also released on seventh generation consoles, the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, marking the eighth year in a row for the game to be featured on those.

Out with the old and in with the new. EA revamped the presentation of the game completely, including new commentators, score-keeping graphics, puck physics, jersey physics, ice design, home arenas, player models, player animations, and much, much more. The game has never looked more beautiful.

However, the menus are clunky and take away the simplicity and ease found in earlier installments. The developers have every right to create a new look for future installments to go by, but there was definitely a better way to design those menus.

While presentation is what makes the game appealing to the eye, a game is played for the experience had with the controller. NHL 15 runs incredibly smooth. The controls are intuitive and easy to pick up on, as with any sports game, and if new to the series the learning curve will be only a few games. The problem that might completely turn people off from buying this game is the lack of game modes. It is as if the developers were so focused on creating a beautiful game, something so appealing to the eye, that they left all the substance out.

The game features offline game modes such as Be a Pro, control a custom-made player with a team of your choice, Be a GM, control a franchise and its players as the General Manger, and Play Now, the traditional Team vs. Team hockey experience.

Be a Pro and GM both feature clunky menus and are simplistic at best, with many of the core features from previously installments missing.

Online game modes feature Hockey Ultimate Team, a trading card mode popular among the game’s main community, Online Versus, a head-to-head version of Play Now, and Online Team Play, a 5 vs. 5 matchup with everyone controlling an NHL player.

All of these game modes feature no way to play with or against friends, and also like the offline modes, are missing many key components from the earlier games making them average at best. However, what they do provide is playable gameplay, although bare to bone.

This game may take some convincing to buy. What EA Sports produced is a great sample of the potential these consoles can give to sports gaming, but not much else. NHL 16 will have to be a rather large jump in quality for this game to be forgiven for what it lacks.

If a passionate-enough hockey fan, consider buying this game, if the price is right. Do not buy this game at full price for what it has; wait until the price drops below $40.

NHL 15 deserves three stars out of five for its new and refreshing gameplay, but ultimately falls short when it comes to variety and accessibility.

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