EA Sports debuted a demo for NHL 15 this week, alongside the retail launch of Madden 15. Although sales figures for the Madden franchise generally exceed those for the NHL series, fans and critics have consistently praised the ice hockey video game, year after year.
This year’s version of NHL takes advantage of the hardware in the new generation of consoles with greatly improved graphics. There are far more visual details in the players, the arenas, and the crowds. Further, there is a new physics system, which allows jerseys to react to skaters’ movements and even their protective gear.
The demo features the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers, and although the commentary by NBC’s Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick and Eddie Olczy (along with TSN analyst Ray Ferraro) has not been updated to include recognition of the Kings’ recent Stanley Cup victory, the entire “NBC Sports Broadcast Package” adds dramatic flair to the game’s presentation. Emrick and Olczy are featured at the beginning of each game in full motion video. This is far superior to how Madden 15 executes their in-game commentators (digital renders).
There are some changes with the controls and gameplay as well. Fans of the franchise will notice differences in executing various dekes, particularly with the one-touch deke button. Pulling off more complicated dekes still require finessed and well-timed stick movements. Additionally, the AI defense seems to have improved a bit from last year’s version.
The demo isn’t perfect however. There are some clipping issues, and players’ heads (without their helmets) lack texture, resolution, and are just plain blocky. Some players look nothing like their real-life counterparts. Furthermore, there are a couple of offensive moves that almost guarantee goals each time they are executed.
Overall however, the demo is exciting to play with non-stop action, incredible graphics, and fantastic presentation. NHL 15 will launch on September 9 on current and last generation consoles. Pre-order NHL 15 at Amazon.