Monday, September 1, 2014

EA Sports NHL 15 Demo Review

I know I'm late to the party, but having given the demo a run through, I figured I'd share my thoughts on it.

(Note: I played the Xbox One version of the demo, though I don't think there are any large differences between it and the Playstation 4 version.  Neither the Xbox 360 nor the Playstation 3 have demos as of now).

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the greatest hockey video game ever made.  That's right, NHL 95 (I can, in fact, count).

Still the best.
So not only is it an anniversary year, but this is the first version on new, eighth generation hardware, so this is a big game for EA Canada.  So to get people excited, EA released a demo.  This is a review of the demo.

To start out, this is a very small demo.  In previous games, there's been a stripped down Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT) demo, a game, and maybe a shootout, practice, or Battle for the Cup mode.  This demo comes with nothing but a single game (with only the Rangers and Kings, as is usual) and practice, where you go one on the goalie, and nothing else.  There's enjoyment to be had, but with no online play, you'd better have friends and controllers handy.

That said, the presentation is excellent.  The intro to the game has the legitimate feel of an NBCSN broadcast, with Mike Emrick talking about where Madison Square Garden is (if the Rangers are the home team).  Then the scene shifts to a very well rendered shot of the interior of the arena, and then...

Actual video of Doc and Eddie Olczyk discussing the game in a manner which doesn't name names (so they can use that video for other games) greenscreened on the rendering of the arena behind them (it looks realistic, but it's not a video, it is actually rendered).

Even when the game is playing, it looks better than NHL 14 did on the PS3, by a lot.  The skating has been improved dramatically since NHL 13 (NHL 13 introduced "realistic" skating and acceleration, which made all the players seem like they were in molasses).  The controls are I believe identical to the most recent installments in the series, and that's not a bad thing.  The fighting has been tweaked, again, but I think it has the same controls too (instead of a first person mode for fighting (based off the Fight Night engine) it uses the same view from the game with all the other players around).  Other than that, the gameplay feels similar to NHL 14, and that's good.

Despite the shortness of the demo, the game itself looks to be very promising, even if it removes features from the previous entry in the series.  It you have an eighth-gen system, you should certainly spend the time and gigabytes downloading the demo for NHL 15.

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