Time for the next NHL game on my marathon. It’s definitely been pretty surreal to play so many of these back to back. I will say that unlike NHL 10, you can feel that the graphics have gotten a little sharper here. Maybe it’s the field I was playing in for the tutorial, but the arena looked incredibly well polished. The white stood out and you could practically see through the ground. The players also felt sharper, but that could also partially be that the game is more zoomed in. Regardless, NHL 11 is definitely a game you’ll want to have.
Naturally I went right into the quick play mode after clearing the tutorial. I was ready to take the hockey world by storm and while I may not have secured the win I do feel like I did pretty well. I was laying on the pressure pretty thick and I did manage to score a goal which was hype. After that they started laying on the goals since my goalie cracked under pressure. I lost 5-1 or something like that, but it could have gone worse I suppose. At least I was always right up in there with the action which is the important thing. I am working on the aiming and passing, but it almost feels like it just comes down to luck by the end.
I can get a good shot out if I have space, but usually the enemy players are right on top of me at all times so I can’t get a good angle. No matter how fast I move they seem to move just a touch quicker than me. There’s just no escape and these guys are really good at stealing the puck from right underneath your nose. Once in a blue moon you’ll actually make it to their side with nobody on you, but it’s not like making the shot is a cake walk in that scenario either. I talk a lot about passing and shooting, but at the end of the day you’re also going to need to play tight defense because odds are that this is going to go to overtime with a score of 0-0. The computer never eases up on defense so you just have to surpass your limits somehow.
When it comes to the fighting gameplay none of the opposing players wanted to humor me. I only got to take one of them down and for the others they would just ignore me when I tried to start the fight. I guess they just didn’t want to have to hold the L this time and I can understand that. Still, the fighting is always one of the best parts in these games so I was sad to see it go. Maybe there’s a better way to pick a fight but based on the tutorial just pressing triangle should do the trick when you’re near them. It typically makes your player mess with their hair.
This time I also went ahead and tried one of the bonus modes. The name of this one was Shootout and basically the concept is that it’s a 1 on 1 battle against the goalie. You have to get the puck past him and you’ve got 5 tries to do it. Likewise the computer also gets that many opportunities. I’m happy to say that I actually did win this round. I may have not done so well in the real games, but I like to think that this meant I was finally able to step up during crunch time. When the chips were down, my puck wasn’t. It took a bunch of attempts before I got the puck in, but the computer couldn’t make any shots so that’s why my team got the victory. The mode seems to go on past the 5 players until someone scores or at least it felt that way to me because I’m pretty sure I tried to shoot more than 5 times.
As always there is a ton of replay value here as long as you like soccer. While the shootout mode may not work for long periods of time, it is a good way to take a break from the main gameplay while also working on your fundamentals. Then of course you’ve got the full season to play and in general every game will always be unique. You can get this game for a dollar or two so that’s a lot of value for such a price. As I mentioned the graphics definitely look quite nice here and the presentation is definitely on point.
Overall, NHL 11 is a great follow up. NHL continues to be operating at a high level and I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon. It seems like a consistent series much like all of EA’s other sport titles. They may not have the best reputation, but I don’t think you can deny the fact that they tend to hit it out of the park with all of these franchises. Even if Hockey isn’t really your thing you’ll likely be able to appreciate how smooth the gameplay is. Soon I’ll be trying out NHL 12 so we’ll see if that one also shows a noticeable improvement around the board or if it’ll be the same. So long as it doesn’t get worse I can’t say that there would be any problems here.