Sports games take notice.
Posted 3 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
Hockey fans were absolutely spoiled last year when EA Sports released NHL 09. It was a fantastic sports title from head to toe and it put pressure on other sports titles to step-up their games. A year later and EA has followed it up with NHL 10. This year’s edition is not as big as an innovator as its older brother but it still manages to continue the series in the right direction and a game no hockey fan should be without.
If you ever watch or play Hockey you will know that the sport is not strictly about moving north and south; the rink might look small, but every inch of it is used. This year, EA has taken that view and introduced Board Play into both the offensive and defensive side of the sport. What Board Play does is that now when Wingers take the puck along the sides, defensemen can now force them into the boards and attempt to steal the puck. It’s not all one sided as wingers when put into this position can kick the puck along the boards to an open player. On defence, this can significantly assist you as it puts the offensive player out of the play. At the same time, if an offensive player uses the board play to their advantage, they can get the puck to an open player with a great opportunity to score a goal.
Additions on the ice don’t end there. In the past, once the whistle was blown all the players on the ice tended to just stop in their tracks. This year, a lot can still happen during a stoppage. If you feel like starting a tussle, you can easily attack players and hope to drop gloves. It works both ways as the computer can become quite aggressive and start attacking your players. The animations look really good as players will slash each other, push and shove and even try to do some good ol’ fashioned face-washes to entice the opposition.
With this off the whistle play, the likelihood of fights has increased quite a bit and EA has you covered. The new fighting mechanics take the sport within a sport to a whole new level. Fights are now done in first person and look absolutely fantastic. You’ll be able to grab jerseys, do some dirty boxing and really have an intense duel. Fights also factor into your team’s motivation. Win a fight and all your players will feel pumped up, but lose it and your team lacks the muster to continue battling.
There is one downside to the after the whistle action. In most cases if players do end up tussling without actually fighting, what will incur are off-setting penalties; finding out who actually got the penalties can be a bit of a mystery. The game will only show one guy going into the box and you won’t know which other player got called until you hear the PA announcer name them.
With NHL 09, the key addition to the game was Be a Pro and it has returned as strong as it was last year. It is still the same enjoyable part of the game and a new addition this year is the ability to have your player drafted by a random team rather than picking the team you’d like to start with. Prior to being drafted, your created player will take part in an NHL Prospects game and your performance there will help to determine where you’ll be drafted. If you play well you’ll move up and if you play poorly, you’ll drop. This little addition is nice, but some might feel that one game isn’t enough to show off your skills. A Skill’s Camp or a few more games might add a bit more interest prior to the draft.
In terms of new modes in the game, there are two that EA is really focusing on this year. The first is Be a GM which puts you in control of your favourite team. Like so many other Franchise Modes in sports games, you will need to sign and trade players, deal with contracts and deciding where to scout players. You will also be paying close attention to your phones as you will be making and accepting calls from other teams. This mode is certainly interesting for those who want to experience what it’s like to run a team, but the amount of management required might be a bit much for those who simply want to play a game of hockey.
The other new mode in the game is Battle for the Cup. This new mode gives you the opportunity to play the Stanley Cup finals either against the computer or your friends. The game will track all your stats, fans will react accordingly and you’ll even have to make the necessary changes if a player gets injured. This mode is fantastic for those evenings when you have a friend over and want to see who really the best is.
Graphics and Sound
Since the jump to the HD consoles, EA has been pushing the boundaries of what is possible for a hockey game and that line continues to move with NHL 10. This year, not only have they made subtle changes to jerseys and arenas but they also have added more animations, especially in the goaltender department. Goalies move more realistically than ever before; you’ll see plenty of dives, splits and other goal stopping moves that will force you to watch them again and again on replay. Skaters have also seen improvements on moves and all of it combined gives you one incredible experience.
Animations have also improved off the ice. When playing certain modes, specifically Battle for the Cup, you’ll see fans wave towels, react more vividly with each goal for or against your side and other minor details that help to add to the excitement. The crowd even gets into the game with cheers and boos when specific players touch the puck. The fans won’t forget when their star player went down and they’ll show their displeasure to the one who caused it.
This year, EA Sports has been fairly hit and miss with commentary but thankfully, the strong partnership of Gary Thorne and Bill Clement is just as solid as it has been in the past. There is a lot of great dialogue between the two that properly mirrors that of a real broadcast. Depending on your tastes in music, the game’s soundtrack can either be really enjoyable or quite bothersome. EA has you covered with their new Custom Soundtrack option. With that, you will be able to import your favourite tunes from your hard drive into the game which also includes having specific songs play when your Be a Pro player scores or for your team’s entrance before a home game.
As you would expect, NHL 10 offers a lot to both casual and hardcore hockey fans. Be A Pro alone can keep you occupied for a very long time, while Battle for the Cup is perfect for those weekend battles with friends. Online has also improved with an easier interface that allows for quicker access to games and the EA Hockey Leagues. Be A Pro continues to be linked both offline and online, so those who really want to show off their stuff can do so in a number of different ways.
For those looking for a bit more management in their hockey games should find plenty to enjoy with Be a GM. It certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but it does offer a different way of looking at the sport and will give you a better appreciation on what your favourite team’s general manager has to do to make a team a success on the ice.
For fans of other EA Sports titles such as Tiger Woods and Fight Night, you were able to import your picture into the game for your created character. Surprisingly, this option is not available in NHL 10, especially considering how much Be a Pro has you playing as yourself. Here’s hoping that option becomes available next year.
NHL 10 continues to keep the long-running franchise a success and a delight to play. The additions to this year are certainly not as drastic as NHL 09 were, but the fine tuning does enough to make the overall product an enjoyable one. Those who found last year’s version to be the crème de la crème might hold off from picking this one up, but for everyone else, this is a must own hockey title and one that only makes you question where else EA Sports can take this great franchise.
+ New Animations for goalies makes for some incredible highlights
+ Board Play allows for more strategy
+ 1st Person fighting is fantastic
+ Improved Online
+ Battle for the Cup accurately re-creates the atmosphere of the Cup Finals
- Additions are not as drastic as last year’s game
- Penalties after the whistle are not properly shown
- Why can’t I import my face into the game?
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Release Date : 2009/09/15
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Developer : EA Canada
Category : Sports
ESRB : E10
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10