VPH Looks Ahead: NHL 14

The 2012-2013 NHL season hasn’t even reached the playoffs yet but EA decided to reveal the announcement trailer for NHL ’14 anyway.  All I have to say is WOW.  One of my first posts for MB was about the lack of effort put into welcoming first time gamers into the world of an NHL game.   Not to say that EA would concern themselves with the plebes this time around either. The WOW factor is entirely based on the trailer.  The way it moves from live to in-game action is  stellar. Sometimes I couldn’t even make out which one was which. (Check out the Semin to Tlusty doozy at the :39 mark)  EA revealed a few of the new gameplay mechanics and features as well.  With sports game I usually take a 1 year break between titles.  I mean, how much can actually change in a year?  Perfect example: the MLB 2k13 fiasco.

“We’re very proud of the history of innovation that the EA SPORTS NHL franchise has produced on this console generation, and this year we’re amplifying that innovation by leveraging technology from teams like FIFA and Fight Night.  We’re very proud of the history of innovation that the EA SPORTS NHL franchise has produced on this console generation, and this year we’re amplifying that innovation by leveraging technology from teams like FIFA and Fight Night,” says Dean Richards, General Manager, NHL, EA SPORTS. “This year fans will feel the speed, skill and aggression of NHL hockey like never before, powered by some of the best EA SPORTS technology to create the best game we could ever imagine.”

According to Joystiq, the game will have a ton of new additions and tweeks to both offline and online modes.   The list includes new collision physics (used in FIFA), the Enforcer Engine (used in Fight Night), True-Performance Skating, One-Touch dekes, updates on Be a Pro, and updates to the Hockey Ultimate Team and EASports Hockey League. EA Vancouver will be using said physics engine for the first time although it was first utilized in FIFA 12, by EA Canada.  Since then some  of the kinks have been hammered out, here’s hoping we see none of this:

And Then There Was One……

August and September is a sports lover and video gamers dream. Where the NFL, NHL, and soccer fans from around the globe get to watch their favorite teams in HD and then step into the of those teams when they switch their television settings over to Input 2.

As the years go by my time to play video games is becoming more precious. Whereas I used to buy every Fifa, Madden & NHL title that EA released and play all them until all hours of the night, this year I’m thinking it would be smart if I only focus on buying and mastering one game.  And the lucky girl is (ed.note: Oh, the suspense!)FIFA ’13! Playing Madden ’13 helped make my decision very easy. Not that Madden 13 was bad, far from it.  The graphics were crisp, gameplay was smooth and the commentary by Jim Nance and Phil Simms was actually not zombiefied.  It’s just that…it was so boring.  I felt more and more like I was going through the motions of the game play instead of actually getting invested in wanting to win and improve my game.  I understand that this years Madden changed a lot of its focus to Connected Careers and online game play, but I just don’t think that’s enough to keep my interest, especially when the thing that I have become addicted to more than anything is the FIFAs Ultimate Team (FUT) game mode.

Yesterday at Gamescon, EA announced a plethora of new features in FUT including single player seasons, Team of the Week Challenges, and many more. Check out NowGamer for the full list.  The one thing I’ve always wanted in FUT is for player’s careers to expire after a certain number of games played.  I feel this would be beneficial to people that don’t spend money to get packs and it make games that are played between humans much more even.  Once someone gets Lionel Messi, that person is going to use him until the cows come home or he gets erased from The Matrix.  But limit the number of games he can play and using him becomes much more strategic.  Younger players, such as Messi and Ozil get 100 games or so while older players, such as Drogba and Di Natale, get 30 or so.  Playing with those older would make the games much more exciting you want to end their career on an absolute high note.  NHL Ultimate Team introduced this feature a few years ago and it always something that has stuck with me.

My time with the Madden and NHL franchise has been wonderful, (don’t even get me started on MLB The Show) but the time for me to focus on one sport that I can try to master and dominate has come.  Unpredictable is the key word, and if the USA’s victory in Mexico last was something to go on, it certainly was….unpredictable.

How I Would Improve EA Sports NHL ’13

(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.