The puck drops now.
Another year, another round of EA Sports titles and yesterday a demo for NHL 13 launched on both Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. With all of the buzz surrounding the new True Performance Skating system this year, I was excited to actually get some hands-on time with the game and see just how well it handled a pair of skates.
The demo for NHL 13 offers limited access to four different modes: Play Now, Hockey Ultimate Team, NHL Moments Live and Free Skate. Play Now and Free Skate are pretty self-explanatory but offer you the ability to practice your skills and play a period against the CPU or a local player. EA continue to improve Hockey Ultimate Team with a new design, better rewards and a new playoff format. It’s not a mode that I’ve put much time into with previous games, but I think I’ll give it a closer look this year now that it’s had a few years to mature.
The only new mode featured in the demo is NHL Moments Live, where you get to relive some of the greatest moments from before and during the 2011-2012 season. There will be 26 Moments included when the game launches, but EA have said that they will be adding new moments throughout the year as they happen (so long as the NHL doesn’t lockout again). The demo only included one Moment and it was from Game Five of the Western Conference Finals between the Kings and Coyotes, where Dustin Penner scored the series winning goal in overtime. The game starts in OT and your goal is to win the game while playing as the Kings, but it doesn’t have to be Penner who scores. Sadly, only three of the Moments are from before last season, and I would have preferred that the majority of them, if not all, were from Legendary games of the past. It’s not just for nostalgia though, as each Moment that you successfully complete with earn you pucks to be used in Hockey Ultimate Team, giving you even more reason to relive them.
Now to the real question: How good is the new True Performance Skating system? The quick answer is that it’s great, but it’s something that you really need to see for yourself to fully understand. Using mechanics like Momentum, Top-End Speed and Explosiveness, EA Sports are, in my opinion, able to capture the most authentic skating to date. Skaters look and feel like real-life players more than ever, and I can see gamers having a lot of fun with this new skating system as it allows for more creativity with finesse players as well. Goalies get a nice upgrade too with over 1000 animations now and the ability to track every player on the ice, instead of just the one with the puck like in past games. This gives them a better chance of anticipating the play, instead of just reacting to it.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when we play there always seems to be a battle over what camera angle to use, and NHL 13 isn’t making that any easier by introducing the new True Broadcast angle. This is the angle that you see when you watch a game on TV, and while it’s great to watch, I’m not a huge fan of playing the game with it. My camera angle of choice is Action and True Broadcast is too far off from it that I couldn’t get used to it. It’s a nice addition to help make the game more authentic, but I don’t see myself using it.
Overall, NHL 13 is impressive so far and I can’t wait to be able to go deeper into it and check out the modes not available in the demo such as the new GM Connected. NHL 13 is set to release on September 11th, 2012, but the demo is available now on Xbox 360 and PS3, so go check it out.