EA Sports bounces back with NHL 16
(Blades is just one of the few additions in NHL 16. Photo Credit: Electronic Arts)
After a successful series in the seventh generation of gaming consoles, the developers at Electronic Arts up in Vancouver were hoping for a smooth transition for the next generation of hardware (mainly the XBOX One and Playstation 4) with NHL 15. The gameplay itself was very solid, but a lack of game modes and a slew of online gaming issues prevented the team from having a successful launch for the eighth generation of video gaming.
With last year’s failure in mind, the EA hockey developers were hoping for a bounce back season with their annual release and they did just that with NHL 16.
This year’s gameplay makes another step forward with goalie control and a visual on-ice trainer.
Having played extensively during Tuesday’s release, I can tell you that the visual on-ice trainer comes in handy for both rookie and veteran gamers alike. From carrying the puck (shooting, passing or dekes) to defending in your own end (stick checks, body checks and blocking shots), the visual on-ice trainer is simple, yet effective in displaying suggestions on what the users should do.
The goaltending mode also got an upgrade with enhanced controls. For any gamer, I suggest that you use this in practice mode if you intend on using this feature extensively. Everything from post-to-post movement to hugging the post, and making the acrobatic game-changing stop is controllable, but the timing of the game’s Artificial Intelligence will take some time getting accustomed to.
Presentation wise, NHL 16 took a step forward in presenting real-life authenticity. Customizing your own create a player from the attributes to the equipment and facial hair (including a specific length for playoff beards) has never been more fun.
Although the commentary gets repetitive (even with Doc Emerick, Eddie Olczyk and Ray Ferraro presenting each game with NBCSN presentation), EA Sports spent a lot of their time replicating a real-life game day authenticity for each arena. From the way the arenas look, to the mascots, and team specific atmosphere, NHL 16 does a terrific job at presenting unique touches for each fanbase. Score a goal in Boston and you’ll hear Zombie Nation. Make the playoffs with the Flames and you’ll see the ‘C’ of Red in full force. Oh, and team mascots also make their debuts.
The small, but encouraging steps forward with the gameplay is always refreshing. The return of popular game modes like EASHL, Be a Pro and Be a GM to their original form is a breath of fresh air.
New touches to Be a GM like enhanced scouting and player morale (where GM’s can schedule individual and team meetings to help boost their players confidence) have inserted life into the mode. Also added are the ability to sign your own players during the season and enhanced trade logic (in other words, don’t expect for the Capitals GM to approve of a proposed Alex Ovechkin for Dennis Seidenberg, Zac Rinaldo and Chris Kelly trade).
If being a GM isn’t your thing, then of course you can try to live your dream of becoming a professional hockey player through Be a Pro mode. This mode allows you to start your career in the CHL to develop a player’s skillset from off-ice training to getting feedback from your coach. The best thing about this gameplay is users are able to simulate until their next shift.
In addition to Be a Pro and Be a GM, the popular Hockey Ultimate Team returns with auctions to buy your favorite collection of players. But the biggest buzz is the return of the popular EASHL after taking a year off with NHL 15. This mode allows users to customize their team’s look from the roster to fully customized uniforms. From there play with gamers across the world with EASHL online season.
Although there are still some kinks to work out going forward (from enhancing their commentary to their lagging issues during online play), the folks at EA Canada heard the feedback from their fan base following last year’s disappointment and responded nicely with NHL 16.