It’s time to jump back into the world of Hockey! It’s been a long time since I’ve played a hockey game so I must warn you that I was pretty rusty. It’s definitely not my favorite sport to play, but at the same time it can be fast paced so it’s not the worst either. It’s just got a high learning curve like the FIFA titles. Fortunately this one does give you a lot of different gameplay options at the ready which I thought was pretty nice. You can play through Arcade mode or simulation style. I tried both options to make sure I was ready for the review.
So there are the usual modes here. You can play quick games, jump into a franchise, or you can have fun coaching and practicing. I jumped right into the thick of the action of course. The gameplay is pretty straight forward as it’s a 3D title and the goal is to hit the ball/puck into the opponent’s goal. Once you’ve done that then you’ll have scored a point. Whoever scores the most wins. You can switch between players and shoot, pass, and a lot of other moves. One thing I like about this game is how it embraces the combat aspect of the game. You can body slam opponents and even accept fight requests.
If you accept a fight then the two characters will line up in a boxing battle. The controls even change to that of a boxing game’s which is a pretty neat touch. I definitely enjoyed those brawls even if I was basically just button mashing at that point. I won almost all of my fights which was pretty nice. As for the overall games, I won the match on rookie level, but lost on all other difficulties. It’s similar to Soccer in how it’s almost impossible to score. Even on the easiest difficulty I was having trouble doing anything. The CPU would just run in and steal the puck from me whenever I was getting close which was pretty sad.
I feel like there are more breaks in the flow of the game than usual here though. Whenever you do something it seems like a flag comes out or the puck is stopped for icing. As a result the games can be a little on the long side. The computers never seem to make these mistakes though so it’s just something that you’ll have to get around. I suspect that it would take you a very long time to get all of the mechanics down. It helps a lot if you already watch Hockey and know the rules. If you do not, then this will be quite the experience indeed.
There are naturally a lot of PS4 trophies to grab which helps with the replay value. Prepare to sink quite a lot of time into the game if you are seriously gunning for the Platinum though. If there are any online trophies then your chances are probably 0 before you even start anyway. Then you’ve got local multiplayer so as with most sport games it basically has unlimited replay value as long as you know someone who also enjoys NHL. This may be a bit of a long shot though as I don’t imagine that there are a whole lot of people who would want to play NHL 15 when you can play one of the newer ones.
Naturally the game’s presentation is quite impressive and fires on all cylinders. You actually have live action commentators giving feedback as the match starts and then we get a nice introduction to both teams. The graphics are definitely on point and the music is pretty fitting. None of this is surprising in the slightest as EA sport games always look really great, but it’s nice to see regardless. This is the level of design that all games should strive for, especially in this day and age.
After having played more sport games I can confirm that so far the standings are Football>Tennis>Basketball>>>>Soccer>NHL>>>>MLB>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>PGA. I really enjoy playing the first 3 sports, but the other ones definitely take quite the tumble. Still, with the exception of PGA, it’s not like I would call any of them bad games. Even this one will still get a positive score. It may not be a title that I see myself ever getting back into, but there was definitely a lot of effort put into this game. The developers clearly cared and just seeing that boxing minigame was enough to get me sold. There aren’t any glitches and the gameplay does seem to make sense, I just need to learn how to master it.
Overall, NHL is not quite as fun as FIFA I’d say. It makes sense since I prefer Soccer to Hockey in general. Both games have a lot of similarities though so it’ll definitely come down to personal preference. What gives Soccer the edge though is that it’s easier to defend so at least the team won’t blow you out. In this game prepare for them to run up the score because they aren’t held back by the goalie. They’ll score whenever they feel like it and it’s very hard to stop them. The gameplay wasn’t quite as intuitive to me as the other games so moving around was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be. Fans of the NHL games will definitely like this one, but newcomers beware as the game is just very complicated and hard to master.