NHL 13 review (PS3)
Fun-freezer or icy contender?
NHL 13 is strictly for the fans.
A rather blunt way to start a review, but there is method to my madness.
Anyone who has ever played an ice-hockey game will know that it can be an extremely entertaining and frustrating experience at the same time. However, it is within the challenge of dealing with that frustration where the true entertainment value lies. Those who are willing to put in the necessary time will benefit the most from NHL 13.
You don’t have to be a huge fan of the sport or live in Antarctica to know the dynamics that ice brings to the game. Due to this, control is a big issue, and EA has incorporated a dual-analog stick system into the control scheme. The left stick controls speed and direction, while the right analog controls stick movement. The L3 button gives a speed boost, but will also fatigue players, while R3 handles the body checks. Overall, the controls and element of ice provide a good blend of accuracy and unpredictability.
This year, emphasis has been placed on realism. No longer can you make a 90 degree turn at top speed. The faster you go, the less agility you have. Also thrown into the mix this year is the ability to skate backwards at any point. By pressing R2, your player can glide backwards, facing the opposition, specifically helping in defence.
For the ice-hockey purists, EA Canada has taken the depths of the AI to the extreme. A “customize AI” option has been introduced, whereby you can record your own breakaway moves and tailor your team to your own personal playing preferences. It does end up feeling a little mechanical when things are executed in the utmost precision, but the feature is definitely a step in the right direction.
Besides the usual exhibition, online versus, Battle for the Cup, and Winter Classic, EA Canada has brought back the Ultimate Team mode and added a few new extras.
Much like Madden 13’s Connected Careers, NHL 13 introduces you to GM Connected, whereby you can take your roll of a general manager online, with the ability to play with up to 750 people in one league. It is recommended that unless you have access to a 20mb unshaped line, that you stick to offline play, because even with a stable decent internet connection, I couldn’t get through one online match without the opponent rage-quitting or the connection timing-out.
The other major game mode to be added is NHL Moments Live, which again is just like Madden 13’s Gridiron Club, allowing you to experience all the high points of the past and upcoming season.
Some parts of NHL 13 are breath taking. Little details, such as the reflections on the ice, your players’ movements, and the spray of ice from a sudden sharp turn, all standout. That said, there are the usual suspects of shame, such as poorly animated crowds and repetitive celebrations. The same can be said for the audio, as the commentary gets tedious pretty quickly; thankfully, it’s saved by a solid soundtrack.
While NHL 13 suffers from a major struggle to define itself as either a simulator or an arcade sports game, it’s a great addition to the series for long-time fans. And as for newcomers – steer clear, unless you’re willing to put in a lot of time and patience.