Finally I've mustered enough desire to fight off the laziness that has kept me from writing an article over the last few months. This is because EA Sports has released the Demo for NHL 13 today. The game will be available on September 11th, 2012.
After pretty much releasing the same game since 2008 with some minor tweaks over the last four years, this year EA Sports added a bit more to the game. Is it completely different? Absolutely not. Are there a lot of tweaks or just a few? There isn't a lot, but there isn't a few. However, the parts that were revamped this year compared to years in the past were done very carefully to the best detail.
So, what's new?
Speaking strictly about gameplay, there are a few improvements they have made this year. Some for the better, some that may need to be working on by next year to get it just right. The biggest improvement this year is the new skating engine. Players actually look like they're skating across the ice. Unlike previous years where you could do things like stop, turn on a dime and skate at full speed, the skating this year is far more realistic. The downside with the skating, and what may end up being a problem with the game until it is patched by EA (hopefully), is the new skating backwards option. It's a great idea to fully optimize skating as their tutorial video shows, but I think the backwards skating is way too powerful and will end up being a big problem when playing other users online. I have already seen a shoot-out glitch goal where the skater just skates backwards towards the goalie until the last second and turns to face the goalie to score. He did it over and over again only missing a few times.
Another new feature, which I truly enjoy, is the new goalie animations. A lot of the old ones were outdated. So it is really nice to see the goalies make more realistic saves. I took a few videos of some of my gameplay from this afternoon and will post a link to all of them at the bottom of the page. One of the videos shows a goalie making a sprawling blocker save from post to post on a two-on-one rush which looks very authentic.
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I also found that hitting has been adjusted so it isn't so easy this year. In previous years you were sometimes magnetized to the player while hitting, and while that is still there, it seems they lowered the magnetism so that you actually have to time your hits. Also, passing the puck is a lot more sensitive. You need to really aim nicely to hit a player with a long pass, also if you are on your backhand you wont be able to make a hard pass all the way up the ice, which I like because it is far more realistic.
Another thing I enjoyed is the effort done to creating really authentic looking players. Each players face in the video game looks just like in real life. It's a really big improvement on last year. The whole graphics in general have been stepped up quite a bit.
On the downside, which was a bit disappointing, is the fighting engine is still the same awful engine we have been playing with for the past few years. In hindsight, it's probably a good thing, because game times won't be longer due to constant fighting, but it would have been nice to have a new fighting engine.
One thing I found really annoying was the advertisement above the scoreboard. It really isn't much, but a few times I noticed that during a whistle a Honda pick-up truck drives above the scoreboard and stays there for a few seconds before driving off. I just found that slightly annoying.
New to the Main Menu
The main menu has a lot of the same features as previous games. From the "Play Now" option you can play a game, play in the winter classic or "Battle for the Cup". Next is Hockey Ultimate Team, which at a brief glance looks fairly similar to previous years, except when you pick your starting roster, there is a much more in-depth menu.
New this year is GM Connected mode. This mode is basically a fantasy league with your friends. In essence it is an online version of "Be a GM", where you can play against up to 29 your friends as opposed to computer AI. You have the option of playing each game or just coaching them.
Another new addition to the Main Menu is "NHL Moments Live". This is where you are shown a moment of the last NHL season and you can either re-create that moment or change the moment. For example if your team lost a heart-breaking game in overtime, you now can replay that and win the game instead. You have the option to re-live moments of your favourite team or even just your favourite player.
Free skate is the same mode as last year, where it is exactly as it sounds. It's a free skate, an opportunity for you to practice and master some of your favourite moves in NHL13.
Lastly, the EA Sports Season Ticket is brought back this year. With the purchase of it you get the three day early release, much like last year. You also receive 24 Gold Premium Packs for Hockey Ultimate team, which are distributed on a weekly basis and must be redeemed each week. Lastly, you get 20% off downloadable content in NHL 13 and access to other downloadable content.
NHL 13 comes out on September 11th, 2012.
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