EA Sports definitive
series returns again in NHL 12, the latest and greatest virtual
hockey game as players engage in another riveting installment of this
sport in order to take home the Stanley Cup plus a whole lot more.
Although the previous game was almost
perfect when it came to hockey in the console world, EA Sports have
tweaked this current instalment in order to fine tune the mechanics even
more. With state of the art graphics, a sturdy and holistic gaming
engine, NHL 12 is easily the best hockey looking and more
importantly, best playing game to date.
The first thing that you will notice about
NHL 12 is the all new physics engine that truly transcends anything
that we had the pleasure of playing. Unlike the rather readable players
of the past, NHL 12 has players that are more realistic as they
interact with not just the environment but the players around them like
their real-world counterparts. Even the AI in the game has been slightly
revamped which in turn mirrors a real game of hockey and depending what
level you are playing, this can sometimes cause the player a whole world
from the standard gaming modes such as season, online play via XBox
Live, my favourite aspect of NHL 12 is the "Be a Legend Mode" that
brings together 9 of the great legends of Hockey such as Wayne Gretsky
and Ray Bourque. By playing the greats, you need to help them achieve or
better their records which is quite a challenge in itself. You can even
use the legends in other gaming modes in the game as you collect
ultra-rare legend cards and use them in the game, even online or just
battle them in the Legends team.
The new Action Tracker feature allows you
to pause the game and track all the action that has occurred in the
game. It's quite realistic to pause and the game see the action from a
variety of different angles. The controls on the 360 work well and
everything has been mapped perfectly onto the controller. In relation to
the new physics engine, I really dig the all-new balance control system.
This system takes into account the statistics of the players which makes
the gameplay more realistic and thankfully more fluid as they slam into
each other and perform realistic manoeuvres as they hit the ice.
The Be a GM mode still needs a little bit
of tweaking because the AI controlled GM's still make some strange
decisions when it comes to trades and drafting. However, it's definitely
a step in the right direction and this franchise style of sports
management is a slight improvement since last year. I love the use of
statistics in the game and thankfully these are taken from the
real-world. Online play is equally as entertaining that contains a whole
wealth of options for the gamer and we only experienced limited net
Graphically, NHL 12 is a visual treat on
the XBox 360 with some exceptional attention to detail that will leave
you gobsmacked. From the authentic logos to the realistic stadiums,
everything flawlessly comes together in NHL 12. It's almost like
watching it live on your FULL HD TV. The highlight for me, however was
the realistic physics engine as the players knock that puck, bounce off
the walls and slam into other players. Players still have those "dead"
eyes though but the ice effects are to die for.
Commentary is equally as impressive as the
graphics with a play by play account of the game plus some great sound
effects of hockey thrown in for additional realism. The soundtrack is
awesome and features some head pumping licensed rock tracks to help get
your adrenaline pumping. One gripe with the commentary is that sometimes
the commentators do make a mistake when reporting back but it's quite
EA Sports once again make head roads into
the hockey arena by creating the best hockey game to date... it seems
that EA does this every year with their NHL series. Gameplay is refined,
more powerful and caters for both newcomers and veterans alike. The
inclusion of the 9 legends is brilliant and it's quite fun taking
legends such as Gretzky for a spin on the ice. The downside to NHL 12 is
the lacklustre Be a GM Mode but hopefully in future incarnations, this
will be more refined. However if you just want to play hockey, this is
the game to get for the 360!