I’ve only been able to play a few games but here are my very early thoughts about NHL 15.
– After 3 games, I had already seen a repeat video introduction (by Doc Emmerick and Eddie Olczyk) at the beginning of the game. That doesn’t bode very well for how quickly you’re going to want to skip through that particular pregame feature.
The NHL on NBC presentation throughout the game is very well done and does look quite a bit like an actual game broadcast, so that is definitely an enhancement to the game.
– Visually, the new physics engine is quite impressive and does a great job with the replication of how players bodies react to hits. There are still some times where players move in a robotic fashion that doesn’t look right and when those moments happen, it is quite jarring. There are times when you see a CPU player try a tricky stick move to slide a puck past a defender that are incredibly cool though. It’s in each of those moments that you feel like the game is really moving towards something special in the future, sadly there are a lot of other issues that make you think that we could be waiting a while to get to a point when the game is really feature complete.
– Crowd audio doesn’t really seem in sync with how the game action is taking place. In one of my games I put a tremendous hip check into a player and was there wasn’t a bit of crowd noise for the hit. Other times, a period would end and the crowd wouldn’t make a noise for a few seconds then, all of a sudden, they would react like the team scored. So, there are definitely some audio issues there.
– My early experiences with the game play have been terrific. In my first game (the matchup that you have to play between Los Angeles and New York once you launch the game) I fell behind quickly due to some bad defensive lapses, but was able was able to put a few goals together quickly to be able to make a game of it.
The pro level, that the game defaults to, does seem to allow for a good deal more scoring than in years past, so if you want some more arcade style scoring, that might be the way to go.
This may be due to the fact that goalies don’t seem to be superhuman at that level and are susceptible to getting beat by shots high to the stick or glove side. I’ll play more at some of the higher difficulty settings later to see if that adjustment brings scoring to a more accurate level, but the pro level does allow for some fun, high scoring matchups.
– The Be a Pro feature needs some serious patching. By default your player moves directly into the starting lineup for your team (regardless of rating,) which just seems wrong for a mode such as that one where you are trying to build yourself to be a superstar.
There are other minor issues, such as the fact that if you pick a jersey number it will change it to the next highest number when you are drafted by a team, rather than letting you select a different one. (Like I said, it is a minor issue, but damnit I want to wear number #38.)
The biggest issue with the mode is the fact that you have to sit and watch the entire game when you are not on the ice. People might say that it’s more realistic this way, but the mode didn’t play this way in the past. When you were off the ice, in previous versions, it would let you press a button to skip to your next shift. By doing that the games took a great deal less time. This way, the games take a good deal longer than if you a playing as the entire team as the game doesn’t accept any of your button presses while you are on the bench, so you have to just sit there and watch players grabbing each other after every whistle.
– Lastly, there seems to be a great deal more focus on fighting in the game. After almost every single frozen puck there is some sort of scuffle between players where a fight can begin. I’m glad that fighting still exists in the game, but there are so very few instances where fights occur 5 or 6 times in a real NHL game, and I have seen at least that times where a fight could begin in each of my games thus far (including in the Stanley Cup matchup, which is just wrong.)
– With the state that the game is in right now, it’s hard to recommend a purchase of the title. I’m glad that I took a chance on the game as a rental, because there are parts of the game play that are quite good, but the lack of feature parity with previous generation versions of the game, along with some of the poorly implemented new features really suggest that people wait until next year to try the game again.