[Review] NHL 12
If the NBA wants to continue with their shenanigans, the National Hockey League will likely scoop up a bunch of new fans this season. With that being said, perhaps some attention will turn to EA Sports hockey game and people will realize that it is arguably the second best sports game from Electronic Arts behind FIFA but ahead of Madden. NHL 12 is just that damn good; whether you like hockey or not.
To put it into context, NHL 12 isn’t that much different than NHL 11. The core mechanics are still there, the game looks beautiful and plays like a breeze. However, it’s the minor tweaks to gameplay and nuances that get noticed over time and give the 2012 installment of the only credible hockey game on the market enough gloss to make it worthy of a purchase. The touches you may immediately notice upon playing are likely to be a player getting his helmet knocked off after a hard body check or the glass smashing if you ram a player hard enough. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see a hockey puck that is no longer tied to a player by an invisible string and goalies are more “live” this year than in previous installments. It will likely take you a good ten games to notice how a player’s agility and position really matter and how the AI preemptively moves according to what is about to happen. There are tons more to discuss, but you really have to play the game to get a feel of how well EA really nailed the experience this time around.
Again, the visuals for NHL 12 are magnificent. Upon firing up the game for the first time, you’ll be thrust into the 2011 Winter Classic where the Pittsburgh Penguins faced the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field. Similar to how NBA 2K11 opened up with you in the shoes of the great Michael Jordan, NHL’s opening gives you all you need to know about how incredible this game is going to be. Snow falls, the arena looks amazing and every little detail comes to life right in front of you. Throughout your time with the game, you can truly appreciate the TV-like broadcast of NHL 12 as the overlays, intros, functioning jumbotrons and more. Minor hiccups in the instant replays aside, everything flows smoothly. Crashing into a player and watching him helicopter spin just feels right when it happens. Rarely does the game feel gimmicky and everything you see is seamlessly transitioned into the game.
The sounds of NHL 12 are great as well. Commentary is pretty spot on to the frantic pacing of the game. The team of Gary Thorne and Bill Clemente may get a few analysis wrong, but they are relatively solid in calling the game. Crowd noise builds up as the drama unfolds, pucks being slapped off the board, players crashing into the goalie and referee banter all is captured effectively.
True hockey buffs will likely pass out in shock at the sheer amount of game modes you can delve into. Sure, you can play a season or become a pro, but things are kicked up a notch with Be A Legend where you can take on the role of a good amount of legendary players like Gretzky, Howe, Roy and Lemieux and a host of others. Then there’s the ever engrossing Be A GM and the upgraded return of the infectious EA Ultimate Hockey League. To say that hundreds of hours could be lost to one game would be an understatement. Not to mention that you can play in the seven professional leagues. It’s a bit robust to say the least.
If you’re a hockey fan, you’ll love it. If you are neutral, you’ll probably begin watching hockey because of it. Yet and still, there are those that are completely opposed to the sport and simply won’t like it. Too bad for you because you are missing out on a great game.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5