EA Sports continues its dominating season of sports titles. This time we are back on the ice for NHL 16, the second version of the game for the new-gen systems.
Last year’s NHL 15 was divisive. It was the first to use EA’s new Ignite engine and whilst the visuals were an improvement, a lot of the game modes that fans were expecting just weren’t present at launch. It was like they just ran out of time.
EA Sports have approached NHL 16 with their tails between their legs, and quite rightly so. Last year’s effort was a skeleton of what it should have been. This year, EA Sports have had community representatives actively reviewing the game during development and offering input. The result is an ice hockey game jammed full of ways to play that should satisfy even the most alienated gamers from last year.
In recent years EA Sports have been improving the introduction to their games for new player. This year’s NHL does a good job of providing in-game prompts with the on-ice training option. New players and those that have been away can really benefit from the highlighted passing opportunities and goal targets, as well as the displayed button-press reminders. This is a great way of learning to play in the game rather than having to partake in dry, boring tutorial drills.
As well as in-game prompts, the difficulty and game style settings can be adjusted to your preferences. The game can tailored to accommodate both hardcore sports simmers and rookies looking for a simple arcade experience.
Season Mode offers the best introduction to the game, allowing gamers to take control of any team in the NHL, AHL, SHL, Liga, DEL, EHL, Swiss National League, OHL, QMJHL or WHL. There’s no messing about and you are on the ice in seconds.
Gamers wanting a more personal journey through the game may want to try “Be a Pro” and take a rookie from the draft to hockey superstar status. Playing as one player gives you the opportunity to hone your skills in a less frantic manner than when switching players. The coach’s challenges and ratings give gamers some clear goals on top of having your team just winning the game.
“Be a GM”, offers the flip side to “Be a Pro”, handing you the entire franchise to manage. The team, contracts and even the budget are all your responsibility. Matches can either be played with full team control or simulated, making it more of a management simulation.
Dedicated NHL 16 fans can join a team and complete in the EA Sports Hockey League. You choose a specialism and hit the ice in a mode that is as much about team work as it is about skill. Perhaps not the mode to start out in, but certainly something to work towards.
Hockey Ultimate Team has finally got a single player mode, bringing it in line with FIFA. Players can now enjoy the thrills of EA Sports excellent Ultimate Team mode without embarrassing themselves against real opponents! A shockingly addictive mix of a collectable cards and a fantasy hockey league, HUT allows players to create their own ultimate team and take them to victory.
The inclusion of customisable playoffs, NHL Moments, Practice Mode and online and offline shootouts completes this year’s feature-packed NHL offering.
NHL 16’S gameplay is just as action-packed as you’d expect, this being the title most likely to get you snapping off your controllers thumbsticks. It’s a fast and aggressive game. This year the controls have been tweaked with the addition of precision skating to allow a bit more refinement when it comes to moving your player.
Of all the EA Sports’ games this year, NHL 16’s graphics are second only to the beautiful visuals of Madden NFL 16. The players look almost real and their movements are spot-on. Also there’s the little details- the spray of ice during a clash and way the crowds react. The sound design deserves a mention well with its echoing effects perfectly imitating the unique sounds of an ice hockey arena.
EA Sports’ NHL 16 is a fast-pace, fully-featured visual feast. It’s a welcome improvement from last year’s effort, offering the all game modes to back up the astounding visuals and on-ice action that the new-gen Ignite affords us.