Published on September 19th, 2012 | by Mark Gibson, Editor/Community Manager0
NHL 13 Review
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: Sept. 11, 2012.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 [Reviewed]
Review Notes: A copy of the game was received for review purposes.
Hockey fans, gear up for another edition of EA Sports’ NHL franchise with NHL 13. In loom of the lockout, it might be the only hockey we get all season…seriously.
NHL 13 brings back everything we’ve come to expect from the dominating hockey video game franchise: beautiful graphics, excellent sound, commentary and all the game modes that have become a staple to the franchise such as GM Mode.
The big change this season is the True Performance Skating which applies real-world physics to gameplay. You now have to factor in momentum when skating with the puck, racing down the ice or even turning to check an opponent. This makes the game much more realistic, but it also makes for a bit of a learning curve. It took me a few games to really get a feel for how the physics and controls work together. In past games, it was a simple push of the left analog stick. Now it takes a little more effort, and speed plays a big factor in handling the puck.
Once you get past learning the new gameplay, you will experience the same game that has been put out by EA for a number of years. Before you jump to conclusions, this isn’t necessarily a negative thing. The graphics are arguably some of the best in the EA Sports repertoire. The vibrant colors and crisp glimmer of the ice make it a stunning game to feast your eyes upon. There are a few glitches here and there, and player movement can sometimes be a bit cumbersome, but this is a moot point to the overall experience.
All the classic game modes make a return with GM, Season, and Be a Pro. GM mode now has a new online feature with GM Connected. It is essentially a type of Fantasy Hockey where you can play as your favorite team in a league against your friends or random hockey fans online.
This mode is similar to what EA seems to be doing to all their sports games, such the case with Madden 13’s Connected Careers. It’s a fun concept to bring gamers together with modes that have become staples of their respected sports game. However, there doesn’t seem to be a clear advantage to being a part of an Online GM mode opposed to an offline one, other than the fact that you…well…play online.
My favorite mode in any sports game is the one that includes role playing game (RPG) elements. With NHL 13, that mode is Be a Pro. I’ve always enjoyed creating my virtual self and integrating it into my favorite NHL team. Not much has changed with this mode. You can still start in the CFL and work your way through the NHL Draft to become a legendary player. However, this year’s version does not include EA’s Gameface engine which has been introduced in other EA Sports titles like Madden 13 and FIFA 13.
It’s a little disappointing that, once again, you are forced to choose between a set of pre-generated faces instead of actually putting your real computer-generated face into the game. I can only hope that NHL 14 will utilize this fun technology.
Another new game mode is NHL Moments Live. This is where you can relive classic moments from NHL history and rewrite the outcomes. The highlighted moment is the 2012 Stanley Cup final game match between the Los Angeles Kings vs. the New Jersey Devils. The addition of this game mode is a long time coming. Games like Madden have had “Madden moments” for a number of years. It was only a matter of time before the NHL’s rich sports history was implemented into a version of the game.
The one annoying discrepancy I have with NHL 13 is the menu screens. Game modes are buried behind too many menus. If GM mode is the most popular one in the NHL franchise, why is it put under “other game modes”? This should be a dominant quick option right under “Play Now”. It’s a petty thing to be upset about, but after navigating the menus for a few hours, you may find yourself saying, “I just want to play the game!”
NHL 13 couldn’t have come at a better time. With the NHL lockout putting a damper on the current season, NHL 13 will be a saving grace for avid hockey fans. The game is just as visually gripping as we’ve come to expect, and the new Precision Skating makes the gameplay more realistic. However, the menu screens can bring the experience down a bit, and the interface can use a facelift. Overall, NHL 13 is a satisfying game that suffers from its redundancy.
+ The new Precision Skating brings real world physics to gameplay
+ The graphics are beautiful and the game sounds are fantastic
+ GM Connected brings a fun new element to this classic game mode
– Game modes are buried behind menu screens
– Be a Pro mode doesn’t utilize EA Sports Gameface engine