NHL 12 Review
The NHL series from EA Sports is a perenial powerhouse, often winning the sports game of the year title, year after year. And for good reason, the titles rarely disappoint. Solid gameplay, deep single-player modes, and endless replayability are staples for the franchise. So, how does this year’s rendition stack up?
NHL 12 still delivers the great gameplay you remember from yesteryear. This year, NHL runs uncontested by the NHL 2K series, which did not release a 2k12 version. Does the lack of competition for the first time cause the game to suffer the same fate the first few renditions of Madden did after getting exclusive rights? I’m glad to say EA Sports learned their lesson the first time around, and continued to make gameplay and game mode improvements even without the threat of falling behind the competition.
The gameplay is smoother than ever and brings more realism to the game. EA has made hits much more realistic by adding player sizes to the mix. No longer will the small guys be as punishing an Eric Lindros-sized monster. (Though, if Manute Bol comes back to hockey, he’s easy pickins.) Playing against a friend or online is incredibly enjoyable, as usual. Hockey is a silly thing, since you so often feel like you executed well enough to warrant a goal, but then you remember, goalies can actually stop the puck. How disheartening. But the game plays so smoothly, and the visuals are stunning, if turned to Broadcast camera, the only thing that would give away the game was not real would be the player I was controlling constantly attempting to hit people after a whistle.
While I love just playing NHL 12, I was not in love with the Be a Legends mode. I like being able to control more players, and feel it is almost needed to execute certain actions in the game. If you do want to play Legend mode, I would certainly not tell you to play in the Realistic style, where you are on the rink for a minute or so, leave, come back, and leave again. You don’t feel like you have much of a chance to impact the game, and once you get back into the flow, you are swapped out for another player. As someone who is not much of an expert when it comes to hockey, my poor play may be my own doing, but after playing through a long amount and still never really getting the hang of it, I was not a huge fan of the mode.
To the contrary, Be a GM is still excellent. I get that the Legend modes are the new and hip things, but why does Be a GM get shunned to the nether-regions of “Game Modes”, while Be a Legend and Be a Pro is displayed on the main menu. That’s not fair! It is the best mode in the game! I played as my beloved (and HORRIBLE) Columbus Blue Jackets, and led them to the playoffs with the stellar play of Umberger! I could not understand why I was so much better at playing as a team than when I played as a single player in the Legend mode, but I loved playing GM mode and being in control of everything. This possibly has to do with my control freak tendencies, but that is neither here nor there.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed NHL 12 for its gameplay and the Be a GM mode, but did not have much fun in the Be a Legend and Be a Pro modes. But, after playing my way through FIFA 12 and the new NFL Blitz, I would sooner return to those two than to NHL 12. In fact, I often found myself thinking, “Man, I wish I was just playing FIFA right now,” during my time with NHL 12.
I give NHL 12 a B.
Hockey Lover: $49.99
Curious Wanderer: $19.99