"How to Get Through A Lockout"
EA's newest hockey release, NHL 13, is even more important for hockey fans this year considering the lack of hockey during the 2012 lockout. NHL 13 is a refreshing release for us hockey fans who are dying for some on-the-ice action.
Though it won’t make up for a real season of NHL hockey, NHL 13 comes close to satisfying some needs. NHL 13 may be similar to NHL 12 is many respects, but that is to be expected. It's probably best to note the major changes to the game for 2013. The biggest change is the revamp of skating physics which EA calls "true performance skating". I have been playing hockey games since the original Ice Hockey on NES, so surprisingly, I actually picked up quite fast on this new (more realistic) physics revamp.
NHL 13 moves away from the unrealistic, classic ice skating video game controls to give you more of a feeling of what its actually like to be on a pair of performance skates. These days you won’t be able to skate at a really high speed and then do a 360 to turn around in a pinch. It now comes down to balancing your speed and control while on the ice. This is refreshing for gamers; it's nice to see a big change in gameplay.
This leads us to another aspect of the game which has changed this year. The A.I. in NHL 13 is quite tough. While playing with friends I have heard plenty of complaints about how annoyingly frustrating or hard the new A.I. is. However, I was on the side of the fans who enjoyed challenge. I don’t play many sports games, and NHL is one of them, so I didn’t have a problem taking the time to learn and adjust to NHL 13's changes. There was a time when I was working through an EA NHL season with a blink of an eye. All of that has changed. I can no longer make goal after goal with one-timers as I did before.
NHL 13 will also force you to know and learn real hockey positions, and falling out of those positions will make it easier for the opposing team to score. NHL 13 also offers an online league mode in which hundreds of people can participate in different roles or as individual players, something we only dreamed of back in the 90s.
Still, NHL 13 does fall into some pitfalls typical of an EA sports game. The same commentators (Gary Thorne and Bill Clement) make a return, with a few new lines here and there. Both of these commentators should have been replaced with newer, fresher voices, as we’ve been hearing them commentate the games for what seems like forever. Of course, this shouldn't deter anyone from playing NHL 13, because you can always turn the commentators off. Even so, I am glad EA concentrated on core gameplay rather than spending money on the commentary, but it is in dire need of a overhaul. The fisticuffs fighting also still lacks and has yet to have a real update, but these are minor gripes.
At the end of the day, NHL 13 comes out on top, and though it still is just another EA NHL release, it's good to see some major changes in gameplay, especially during a hockey season that has been delayed and cut short. In the end, hockey fans and those who pick up these games every year will be pleased with what NHL 13 has to offer, and even those who are interested should give it a shot just to try the new "realistic" skating.
GameDynamo's Score for NHL 13 (X360)
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