Thursday, 8 October 2015

NHL 16

Last year’s NHL effort left many people cold as it disappointed and slipped on its ass. NHL 15 was not the game fans were expecting, lacking the modes and all-round gameplay feel that fans were expecting. This year though, we finally have the ice hockey game we were hoping for. NHL 16 gets things back to their best and becomes the most thrilling sports game you can buy. 

Developed by  EA Canada and out now on Playstation 4 and Xbox One, NHL 16 is all about momentum on the ice. Players don’t just stop suddenly and if you do bring them to a sharp stop, it’ll take a few seconds to get that player moving again. The aim of movement is to do so in arc so momentum can continue. It takes some time to get your head around the difference in movement but when you do, the true beauty of NHL 16 shows itself. 

If the speed and movement ever intimidated you like you were watching the big boys play on roller blades while you were too afraid to move away from the skates, then NHL 16 eases new and unexperienced players into the game with an on-screen trainer. The ingenuity of it though is that it displays everything clearly on the screen while you're playing rather than put you into menus and push you through drills. The problem with these drills usually is that it doesn't reflect the flow of the game when you actually get into it. The way it's done here though gives you the prompts mid-game that are easy to see and don't obstruct the game whatsoever.

NHL 16 finally has the modes that were expected in last year's version. While NHL 15 felt bare like freshly swept ice, NHL 16 has plenty of little juts sticking out to grab your attention. From the insanely popular Ultimate Team to online tournaments and the EAHSL, which you can lose dozens of hours to, there's no shortage of modes to mix up the excellent gameplay. I still can't help but spend endless hours playing Be a Pro mode and perfect a given position.

Visually, NHL 16 is a stunning game from presentation right down to the ice and reflection on the players' visors. Each period begins with a brilliant glisten from the ice but as the period drags on, scrapes and scratches emerge removing the shine form the ice. It's a little touch but it really stands out to make the all-round presentation even better.

Animations are excellent and damn, the feel of body-checking another player with a well-timed built up lunge always feels satisfying. The feel of the controller rumbling and the player going down gives a sadistic pleasure you won't find in other sporting title. I saw myself gritting my teeth and saying "yes" to myself when I would successfully take out a player that made me question my anger problems. Still kept doing it though.

The NHL games from EA have been grossly under appreciated for a few years now and now is the right time to actually jump in. Gameplay eases you in, modes will keep you busy and the complexity of what is possible will keep you hooked. You feel improvement with every game you play, you understand movement and keep track of the puck, knowing where to place it next. It's an incredibly fast game but probably the most rewarding sports game there is out there.

NHL 16 is really pucking good with 4/5 stars.


Jason Redmond

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