I'm a bit of a video game junky. Just not Halo. I despise Halo. I'm a 360 fan. I love XBOX Live.
One of my favorite games to play is the EA NHL series (among the other sports games: Madden).
I was excited to hear about the new improvements in the new game that just released this month. For the first time in my life I bought a game at midnight, the exact minute of it's release. It was a whole new step of geekdom for me.
The game is great. Realism and arcade style are brought as close together as possible. One thing I tried right away was the Game Style. Choose from Casual, Default or Hard Core and see just how tough or easy the game can be with or without any computer help.
The new fighting and board play engines are great. Actually being able to fight for the puck is fun and challenging (though I don't like that you end up only able to really pass the puck in one direction when you're kicking it out). The fighting is very cool. First person for the first time.
When you play the NEW Battle for the Cup mode and you get in a fight in the first game of the series and beat a guy up a bit, you'll see he'll have a black eye or two throughout the series. Among the fighting engine is also the after the whistle rough stuff. In your options you can choose how the referee will view it: Call anything, casual or Anything Goes, etc. It makes for a lot of fun playing online and against a friend.
A few little things I love besides the tougher game play, is the aspect of injuries. You can choose to have your players play through their injuries or ride the pine. Also, if you're in the opposing teams rink and one of your players injures their home town team, your player will get booed everytime he touches the puck (a little aspect, but very cool).
Some things I wish EA would add and have wished for a while: - more interaction with coaches and staff on the bench. For instance, if you take a bad penalty, you should get benched or yelled at by the coach. - end of a bad home game or amazing road game, fans should litter the ice with their food and drinks. - more computer interaction with trades and urgency of trades before the deadline.
In short I love the game, I just wish they didn't pick Patrick Kane for the cover with his stupid mouth guard hanging out. He looks like an idiot. Not only that, every kid that gets this game now is going to learn how to get out of paying a cab fare!
Cheers, Matthew A. Hawkins