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Hands-on with the next-gen 'NHL 15'

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Opting to skip out on a next-gen launch version, NHL 15 patiently waited until this year to bring the series to the big boys. Using next-gen technology and offering some much needed changes in presentation, the game looks to offer a big leap from current generation consoles. Early screenshots showed exquisite player detail, and this certainly carries over to the PS4 version of the game. This author was able to have a hands-on at E3 2014 of NHL 15, as the early build as a very solid foundation built.

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The biggest addition to the series will be the new 12 player collision physics. Now, anyone on the ice can collide with each other even if they are not player controlled. Also included with this is the new Vision A.I., as players will think and react up to seven seconds ahead. This will mean no more players just standing around. As for the physics, there were some pile ups in front of the net, but they were not abundant and it did not hinder the flow of the game. Puck physics have also been altered and this allows for better passing and just more realistic bounces on the ice.

Player models have been stripped down as equipment and jerseys have been molded over top of them. Now, player’s jerseys and equipment will move around when skating. There will be 9000 detailed crowd members that will be doing different things, such as taking selfies and beating on the glass. Every bit of this is very detailed and looks fantastic in the playable early build. The only issue was with the frame rate in certain situations, but this should be addressed before launch.

The new NBC Sports presentation is the icing on the cake. Replicating a true television broadcast, this has been a much needed improvement to the series for years. Mike Embrick and Eddie Olczyk replace the old duo to bring a much more modern sound to the game. These two are clearly the voice of hockey in today’s world in America, and going after this license was the perfect idea as the score overlays and everything you see in a broadcast is present. While it was difficult to hear what they were saying during the game, Embrick’s voice did stick out.

All of these improvements brought together for next-gen consoles could offer the best hockey experience to date. There were plenty of times (including this author’s matches) where you hear people scream “OHHHHHHHHH!”, and this was the only area in the booth that was getting this. Most importantly with the time spent playing, the game is very entertaining and looks fantastic so far. Stay tuned for more information for NHL 15.

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