Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NHL 10 Review

Even with the full faith of understanding that the EA Sports franchise has the ability to create thee perfect franchised hockey video game with the hype and anticipation, the franchise never really understands that it needs to hire me as a critical beta tester before it goes to print. How in the world EA Sports allows a game to get so close and yet so far away is beyond my hockey knowledge. Here is my critical review of NHL [20]10 for the Playstation 3.

Starting with the good in this game, I would have to say that the changes to the game play by finally utilizing the full potential of video game consoles the current video game technology. The players are looking and moving more like the real thing. The addition of board play in the game considers a long-lost aspect of the game that allows players to slow down the game instead of making it a resemblance of chaotic arcade-style air hockey. The more puck control that the game offers will minimize any human or computer opponent from swooping in and taking the puck from you.

The next big change that I like is the familiar menu pages with easier to find subcategories of online functions. They improved the "NHL 10 Online" menu with a screen selection that tailors to your need of just a random network game or invite your PSN friend. I often wondered how to re-invite other online users, but found NHL 09 a little disorienting.

The much talked about improved fighting engine takes a page from EA Sports' Fight Night boxing series and utilizes the analog sticks. Long gone are the button-obliterating strategy for a more flexible look that imposes strategy than finger stamina dexterity. And I am also glad that they figured out how in-game fighting affects the players, fans, and teammates accordingly. The next step in improving the realism aspects would only logically have Georges Laraque coming to your home and literally pummeling your noggin.

NHL 10 is one of the first games I purchased after having finally been fully acclimated to the internal WiFi options of my PS3, I was really glad to see the immediate online updates. Version 1.01 makes me think I am getting a lot of the initial bugs removed. Plus, the first roster update dated from the time of the game's release was also fantastic to see. I don't have to bother manually trading players around to assure me of having the most up-to-date rosters. The trading deadline will be less time consuming knowing EA Sports will take care of who went where.

I also cannot express my appreciation that allowing the menu soundtrack and in-game music to be selected by the user like NHL 09 did for the X-Box 360. Now, I can have the Penguins take the ice to their standard classic "Boys of Winter" theme song. I also have not liked mostly the music that EA Sports provided in the past.

Okay, now on to the bad things in the game that I could do without.

Patrick Kane. Could you do any worse for a player with no recognizable value? I expect NHL 11 to have Jakub Voráček on the cover.

Secondly, I presume EA Sports decided that if they are going to make their games the most realistic, they would have to include the chippy post-whistle behaviors. They could not have made a more heart-wrenching mistake than this. I had personal issues with the childish antics of online players who take those kinds of liberties. My policy is this. Those antics are disrespectful and I immediately turn off the game. Why EA Sports felt the need to give these kids justification and a reason to continue angers me. Looks like another year of incomplete online games played!

Once again, EA Sports has to wait it out until all of the 3rd jerseys have been officially released to the public before they can have them shown in the game. Why can't the league just enforce a deadline for all teams debuting a third jersey to do so by a certain date or risk having their news story taken away? Allowing the game franchise to be held hostage to the whims of teams PR depots actually lowers the games enjoyment for video game consumers.

I was also disappointed with the 100 year Canadian all-star team. That was last year. It was a great feature in NHL 09. Why is it still there?

EA Sports, take heed! Here is the list of improvements that must be taken seriously so that the franchise can finally get over the hump and sink into the valley of video game perfection:

  1. I know a few female gamers that are unsatisfied with only a male create-a-player. Why not adjust things for gender inter-changeability? And since nobody is really getting hurt, there is no real taboo with co-ed action.

  2. Enough with this "wait for the unlock code" stuff. I feel like I am not enjoying the game to it's fullest.

  3. Allow created customizable teams to be uploaded from the EA Sports world website and then reintroduced through the console. NCAA 10 does this. Why doesn't all EA Sports franchises share these aspects with the other franchise games?

Overall, the good continues to outweigh the bad, but until certain aspects of the game are changed, EA Sports will have to wait again next year for that 5 out of 5 pucks of perfection.

Rating: 4.35 Pucks of 5
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