7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NHL 13 Review


It’s time to venture back into the world of hockey! After I managed to secure a win last time I’ll admit that I walked into this one with a lot of confidence. It wasn’t a question of if I would win this time, but rather by how much would I claim victory. Turns out that the CPUs didn’t like this and they fought extra hard. Unfortunately I was not able to claim victory over them this time, but I put up a good fight. They just had an extra tight defense this time and their offense wasn’t bad either.

I can’t say that there was much of a difference between 13 and 12. I jumped right into the match and got my best hockey swings in. As a quick recap of the rules the goal of Hockey is to hit a puck inside the enemy net. They have a player standing watch over it at all times and they will do whatever they can to stop the puck. Their team was quite successful at this. Usually my plan is to either pass the ball to a nearby teammate who will punch it in or I’ll do some quick jukes as I approach and try to aim it at the opposite corner. I did manage to score a goal, but unfortunately they got 2 so I was not able to stop them. I had more success with direct shooting than passing this time, but it seems to vary from match to match.

I quickly tried a rematch which I came close to tying, but they scored a goal near the end so I was stuck. After the quick matches I figured I should also try one of the other modes because I don’t do that very often. I went into the shootout mode and managed to win that one. For some reason that mode is always a little easier than the actual game. I suppose because it’s 1 vs 1 there are less distractions so I can just walk up and do my best. There weren’t a lot of other modes that I could see. The others seemed to be variations of the main one so you could jump in and start a franchise or be a GM for example. You could probably spend a ton of time there.

NHL is the kind of game that never really has to end. The amount of replay value it has is equal to how much you enjoy the game. You can sink dozens/hundreds of hours into it if you wish but if you’re that hardcore of a player then you’ll probably be playing NHL 18 rather than 13. Considering that the game is only around 2 bucks it is really a steal to grab this one. This is the final mainline NHL game I’ve got, but I do have 2 spinoffs coming soon so my hockey marathon isn’t quite over yet. I still have more chances to try and secure a win.

Meanwhile the graphics are definitely as sharp as ever. The game looks very nice and you always have a good feel for what is happening on screen at all times. There isn’t much of a soundtrack that you will notice, but once you’re in the game it’s not like you’ll be worrying about that for long anyway. You really get absorbed into the match and the presentation is definitely on point. NHL always delivers there.

In terms of difficulty I imagine that hockey will be one of the more challenging games. All these reviews are on the Pro difficulty level although I’ve dabbled with others in the past. The rookie level is pretty easy to win on and anything above Pro is almost impossible to score with so you gotta hope for a 0-0 deadlock. Pro seems just right to me even if I very rarely get any wins on it. It just seems balanced and while the defense is almost unbreakable, it never feels unfair. I think that’s a subtle distinction that you always want to keep. In some games it feels like the A.I. is totally cheating by breaking the mechanics or teleporting, but I haven’t noticed that here. Of course it could just be that the computers are being extra slick.

Overall, NHL 13 is a fun hockey game. It really keeps up with the others and feels more natural than some of the older ones. While you don’t notice the difference much on a game to game basis, I can definitely say that it was more enjoyable than some of the older ones. I think a case could be made for it just feeling like that because I’ve been playing so much hockey though. I won’t deny that this could be true, but either way I’m definitely glad about that. The higher the games go the better right? Stay tuned for my next voyage!

Overall 7/10

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6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NHL 12 Review


It’s been a while, but it’s finally time to take a look at the next NHL game. I’m thinking that the wait actually ended up being a good thing because I finally managed to win a game. I’d been getting closer and closer as the games went on, but this time I was able to just get into the game and cleaned up shop. I won with a decisive 3-2 score which felt pretty good. It’s really hard to say why I was finally able to score, but I will say that I just kept up a high tempo offense all the way through.

I jumped right into a quick match of course and at first things were looking dicey because my PS3 controller wasn’t playing ball. It kept trying to make my player run downwards but after a few resets I was good to go. Of course by then I was already down 0-1. Perhaps it was the urgency that got me, but I quickly began to take shots at the goal and to my surprise I was getting through. For one of the shots it ended up going right through one of their defenders and to the edge of the net so the goalie couldn’t stop it. It was basically a hall of fame shot if I do say so myself. The other 2 shots were less remarkable but the important thing is that they made it through.

The controls are the same as the others games as you run across the field and try to score goals inside of the opponent’s net. You can shoot or pass the ball and additionally you can slam into other players as well as pick fights. I got into one scuffle during this match and I made sure to knock the other guy out. I didn’t even pick this fight, but once I was in it you can bet that I was aiming for the win. The gameplay all feels pretty smooth even if the computer does seem too close at times. You never really get a breather to stop and relax or you will see that the puck has been stolen.

The A.I. never lets up and I suppose that’s a good thing. It does force you to stay sharp and to keep a close eye on the rest of the field. Meanwhile the graphics are definitely as sharp as always The field looks pretty clear as well as the character models. I definitely had no qualms on this area. The soundtrack may as well be nonexistent since you don’t really hear it during the game. I’m sure it was okay of course, but not exactly a winner.

In terms of replay value you can definitely find a lot to do here. There are tons of different modes to play and its a sport game so you can just have a lot of fun facing off against different opponents. That’s really the true value of a sport game after all even if NHL wouldn’t exactly be my first choice. The game is also new enough where you can try to earn some trophies, but they are pretty tough. I didn’t even earn a single one during my match so I imagine this should take you a long time. If there are any online trophies then the platinum is impossible right from the start which is always unfortunate. Ah well, can’t get all of the platinums I suppose.

I guess for my gameplay hint of the day I would recommend going in close and shifting your stick from arm to arm with the X button. Then fire into the goal when ready instead of passing it to a teammate on the other side to shoot. The move doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to. The computers will either steal the ball right away or it simply won’t go in. The goals I got were simply from rushing towards the net and making the shot. You’ll still have to make dozens of shots before you get it right, but eventually you’ll squeeze it in there. It feels like luck and RNG, but I’m sure there is some kind of technique to it.

Overall, NHL 12 is pretty solid. I can’t really say that there is anything to differentiate it from the last installment though. I guess it’s possible that they tweaked how good the goalies are though. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never scored 3 goals like this and I wouldn’t say that my skills just suddenly jumped a beat so it’s an interesting theory. If the game did make it easier to score that is certainly fine by me because I do like scoring. The whole game just feels faster and it’s a lot more satisfying. Of course I do understand why people who prefer the defensive side may not like this if it is the case. Well, I’ve got NHL 13 coming up at some point soon so it’ll be good to see where that one stacks up. Slowly but surely we are wrapping up the sport games. Long story short, if you like NHL then this is a good pick up for 1-2 dollars.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

FIFA World Cup: Germany 2006 Review


It’s been a while, but now it’s time to go up against a team in soccer. This is also the first time in a very long while that I got to play a small console sport game. Typically I just play the home console versions so it’s a nice change of pace to see how it goes on the handheld. It’s pretty smooth and the PSP has always been particularly great at emulating the home console experience. That being said, aside from Madden I can’t picture myself playing any sport game on the go for very long.

Since this FIFA is specifically about the World Cup all of the modes focus on this as well. The main mode has you jump right into the World Cup and aim for success. Naturally I was repping the USA as I jumped in to take names. To my credit I actually scored a goal and then held the lead for most of the game. Then as always seems to be the case for these titles the computer’s difficulty level suddenly spiked without warning and they scored with only about 10 seconds left in the game. I can tell you now that this felt really crazy. Just like that I had lost my win and had to settle for a tie. Since it was only round one of the World Cup they didn’t have us play extra time and just ended the game there. I felt a little cheated to be honest, but I was glad that I at least scored a goal. The next game was more of a standard 0-0. I ended up losing the World Cup since my record wasn’t enough but it was a good run while it lasted. The computer evidently didn’t think I was good enough to keep tying though as I had it simulate some games in another World Cup and I lost almost every one.

I do like the World Cup format although it’s not like it makes a huge amount of difference to me as whether I do a quick game or a world cup match it’s basically the same outcome. As expected the graphics here are definitely pretty solid. The soundtrack stands out more than some of the others as a song pops up whenever you pause the game. The tunes seem reasonable enough, but you likely won’t be hearing them enough to ultimately form much of an opinion. You’ll be too busy gearing up for the second half or starting the next game.

There’s a solid amount of replay value here. The games are a little too long to easily play on the go, but since the PSP can just go into standby mode you don’t necessarily have to actually finish a game. You can just do most of it and then just dip out of there. That’s always been a pretty nice plus for the PSP in general. I think how much you play the game will depend on if you already play FIFA on the home console games and are just using this as a change of pace or if this is your main FIFA experience. If it’s the latter then I can easily see you spending a bunch of time here.

Really the only difference between this one and a home console title in terms of gameplay is that it’s not quite as clear since you’re on a smaller screen. You’ll feel a little more constricted, but that’s more mental than anything. It’s really still the same game through and through and feels like a direct port. It’s definitely still fun even if you may have a hard time scoring.

I really feel like FIFA and NHL have more in common with each other than any other sport title. If you ignore the terrain (Ice vs Grass) there really aren’t any substantial differences with the two. The way you shoot and pass is the same and you’ve got around the same amount of players. Even the distance of the field is the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if EA is able to copy a lot of the code to use in between the two games. As a result I feel like my NHL training as of late transferred over into FIFA even if I wasn’t quite able to secure a solid win. I came close at least.

Overall, World Cup 2006 feels like a true soccer title and it’s a fun concept for a spinoff. It slightly scales the title down which is quite convenient for the PSP in general. This was the only sport game I had left on my portable backlog so you likely won’t be seeing another one again for a very long time. For the first time I’ve actually gotten my sport backlog down to 20 games so it’ll be quite the milestone to have that one empty at last. Finally I will have more time for trophy hunting, general video game lounging, and getting unstuck in some of the trickier games on the backlog. Lets not get ahead of ourselves though.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Reviews

NHL 11 Review


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.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NHL 10 Review


It’s time to take a look at the next NHL game in my marathon. This one’s pretty similar to the last few as always, but I dare say that it is even more similar than usual. You really wouldn’t know that you were playing a different game to be honest as it’s all basically identical. Still, it’s just as fun as the others were so that really works out quite well. I’ll definitely be continuing on into the later years soon.

So this one had a tutorial to start things off which is always a good idea. I quickly worked on my shooting and passing as I got ready to scrimmage against the real teams. I have to admit though that it didn’t really help all that much. The actual games still turned out just as you would expect as the team would just block all of my shots and parry them like they weren’t even there. I did manage to score 1 goal which was good, but it took forever and by that point I was already down by around 5 goals.

That’s one big change compared to the other games though as the defense just feels a little trickier. Usually I can hold them down to 0 goals or just 1-2. This time they actually scored 6 different goals so for some reason my goalie was just slacking. Maybe I wasn’t applying as much pressure or something, but I was still surprised. I would have hoped that it would also mean my offense would be improved as well, but I had no such luck with that one. Ah well, maybe I’ll be able to score the win next time.

I did get to indulge in the fighting mechanics a little more this time though. The tutorial actually included the boxing inside of it so I was able to land a few good hits and down the opponent. I think I won 5 out of the 8 fights. Towards the end I was really getting the hang of it which was definitely handy. It’s also just a lot of fun to see the players square up and just start slugging each other. You could tell that these guys meant business.

As for the graphics, they’re just as sharp as ever. The field looks good and the character models are on point. It may not be much different from the last game, but it all already looked pretty good so it’s not as if they aged any worse. It’s still a solid presentation and one that I believe will still hold up well 10 years from now. The NHL games do a superb job of really making you feel like you’re in the action.

As always there is a lot of replay value here as well. It’s to the point where I sometimes feel like my reviews are repeating themselves, but I suppose that is inevitable to an extent since the games themselves are so similar. At the end of the day whether you like the game or not will really depend on how much you enjoy playing Hockey. You won’t necessarily love the game just because you love watching the sport since the gameplay is a big deal. However, I would say that it helps and if you like the gameplay then you’re really set. Just get ready to go in there and play a bunch of games as you rise up the ranks and take names.

For my gameplay tips section, I’d recommend slamming the opponent whenever possible. You won’t have to worry about getting the penalties for tripping this way and they rarely care if you body slam the players. I only got in trouble a few times for picking fights which may also be why my goalie was overwhelmed since my team had less players on the field for most of the game. It was worth it of course, but if you don’t want to attract any penalties then you probably shouldn’t do the fights. The penalties aren’t too serious so as long as your skills are on the level you should be fine.

Lately I haven’t been getting too many trophies for these sport games so I was happy that I actually managed to snag 2 during my playthrough. I don’t even know why I got those trophies so don’t ask me that, but the important thing is that I was doing something right. It’s like I lost the match, but I ended up winning the war so I certainly can’t be sad about that. One day when I inevitably go back to improve my trophy% for each of these games this will probably be a high pick since most sport games likely have some easy trophies even if the platinum is incredibly difficult.

Overall, NHL 10 is definitely another solid installment in the series. Hockey still isn’t my favorite sport, but the gameplay is fun enough. You’ll have a good time regardless and the game is smooth with no real glitches that I could think of. You can reasonably be playing this for many hours as long as you like the game and there are enough various ways to play to keep you entertained throughout. Since the game is only around 2-3 dollars it’s not like it’ll set you back all that much either.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NHL 08 Review


Hockey is definitely one of the sports that I know the least about. This is definitely due in part to the fact that I just never watch it. I at least tune in for the NBA Finals, The World Cup, and several Grand Slams. For NHL I don’t even know what their championships are called. For some reason the game never seemed as interesting as the others to me. I still prefer it to Golf, but it just didn’t grab my attention. That may be due to the ice, but I’m not sure why so I’ll just leave it as one of life’s mysteries at this point. Either way it’s been years since I played an NHL game so it was fun to get back in it.

There are definitely a lot of similarities to the FIFA games. The gameplay for the two sports just tends to mesh well although NHL loses this battle. It’s a fun title but yet another sport where I am unable to score unless I put the difficulty all the way to the bottom. It gets even trickier than soccer because half of my team is constantly getting knocked out thanks to penalties so I have to field the whole section by myself. Once it’s 5 vs 3 then I’m really sunk. I suppose the idea here is to keep swinging until you get the puck past the goalie. Instead of pass plays I would just keep on hitting the ball until the goalie forgot to block.

It’s a little harder to move on the field because of how slippery it is, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quick. Mainly you just want to focus on outwitting the opponents and claiming the puck. Once you’ve got a lead you can camp out the other team pretty easy in this game or at least easier than in some of the others. At the same time if you’ve got a lead then you may as well try expanding it to really get a decisive victory. You never know when the tides will turn after all and sometimes it’s just a good idea to press the attack.

There was one point in the game where my players were in the perfect position. I kept on shooting at the goal and while he would block, the power was high enough where it would bounce over to another guy. I’d then pass it again and fire a shot. This kept on going until finally one of their guys got the puck, but I managed at least 10 shots in during that time which definitely felt pretty good. I was in the zone at that moment.

Interestingly you never actually take control of the goalie, which is different from soccer. I’m down with that since it means more time on the actual field which is always good. It also means I have more time to work on not getting so many penalties the whole time. One of them seems to be like Basketball where you can’t go backwards past the half point of the field or you surrender the puck. The defensive ones are a little trickier to get around as I end up getting slammed whenever I attack another one of the players. I guess you have to slam them while they still have the puck, but it’s hard to time it just right since they end up passing so quickly. Ah well, at least you’re only taken off the field for a few plays and not the whole game.

The graphics here are definitely sharp. Get ready to see the players complaining about the penalties a lot as it happens after each penalty and they get quite upset. These scenes are skippable but pretty entertaining. While there isn’t a lot to show off in terms of graphics on the small hockey rink you’ve still got a good amount of hockey gameplay and the arena looks sharp.

There’s a good amount of replay value here which is pretty straight forward since it’s a sport game. You can play as any of the professional Hockey teams and you can play under many different conditions. As you get better at the game it’ll all feel smoother and it’s always nice to actually see your improvement in a game. You’ll feel like a completely different person when you end from when you first started.

Overall, NHL 08 is pretty solid. I look forward to seeing if the title has changed a lot over the years or if it remains the same as I play the newer installments. I don’t really see what more they could add in, but I’d be game with some way to make more precision shots. As it stands a lot of my shots still go wide or don’t exactly fall into the place I was hoping for. I’m not sure how they can do this without making it too complicated so the easiest way is to just improve the accuracy. It may make the offense a little overpowered but sometimes sacrifices have to be made to save the game. Hockey fans will definitely get a kick out of this title as I feel like it really does the game justice with the mechanics and presentation.

Overall 6/10