(ed. note: Intrepid contributor ViciousPjuraHead is spending the summer in Italy and will be filing dispatches of a gaming or comic related nature, when he gets around to it.)
Every year sports games try to add innovation to keep their titles fresh, something innovative and interesting to play. I’ve been playing the EA NHL games for the last three years but I think this is the installment I skip, even with the improvements they’ve made to Hockey IQ (via Digital Trends).
Look, I’m a HUGE hockey fan whose always looking to see the game itself improve alongside the game franchise. Every year the new version of NHL is one of the games I’m most interested in playing. However, during these past few years I have found myself getting more and more frustrated keeping up with the strategy it takes to play these games. Even though the playbooks, general controls and strategies of the Madden franchise are much more complex, I am more familiar with the sport and can hold my own against both computer & online opponents. NHL is the complete opposite. If the game’s complexity keeps rising and even avid fans can’t play it anymore, who are these games for?
Now I understand that these games are more and more being made for the die-hard fans of the sport and the series. You would think that, by my earlier description, that would be me. Yet it’s not. Then when EA swings the other way, like they did with Madden 11, it’s equally terrible. EA tried to make the game more for casual gamers and it actually ruined the experience for me because the game was way too easy, incredibly unrealistic, and the online scores were in the range of almost 100 points between both players. The dilemma for EA is how do they straddle those two worlds, between the diehards & hardcore and the casual, “Hey, I used to play NFL Blitz” crowds? Judging by their recent releases, I’d say that the casual gamer is being left in the dust with nary a look book. Forget it Jake, it’s just videogame sportstown.