With the lockout becoming official on Saturday September 15th, NHL 13 looks like it will be the only time we’ll be able to experience one of the best sports in the world. Many critics will immediately call NHL 13 a simple roster update, NHL 13 is much more. EA Canada manages to make a huge gameplay leap, one which matches the leap from NHL 06 to NHL 07 with the skill stick. NHL 13 is based around what EA Canada is calling ”True Performance Skating” and ”EA Sports Hockey I.Q.”
”True Performance Skating” makes the game momentum. Remember in NHL 12, where you used to be able to do sharp turns in front of the net? Those cut in fronts are not possible in NHL 13. The new skating system gives the players momentum. Beating a defense man to the puck in the offensive zone, by gaining momentum and skating around him means sacrificing the ability to cut in front of the net and getting the scoring chance. It makes NHL 13 more of a Hockey simulation rather than just being an arcade like experience. The True Performance Skating also gives weight to the players. Players like Stamkos will be able to fly from one end to of the ice to another but lacks the ability to give huge hits, while players Chara are slower but have the ability to deliver bone crushing hits.
The next addition is the new ”EA Sports Hockey I.Q.”, which fits perfectly well with the True Performance Skating. The AI in this game is better than what it was in NHL 12. In NHL 12, the goalies only focused on the players with the puck, failing to see any other possible threats on the ice. This is what led to many of the lame one-timer goals that players used to exploit. In NHL 13, that is eliminated. Now goalies will survey the ice, and look at every possible threat, including one timers. In NHL 13, goalies will recognize all scoring threats, and with the all new motion engine that allows goalies to have a variety of different save attempts for each shot, will be more likely to stop any shot. The new AI isn’t limited to the goalies. AI players will now hit, poke check and basically do everything to try and get the puck from you.
Returning fans from the game will recognize the game modes such as Be a GM, and Be a Pro, and these still are incredible fun to play. There are new game modes such as GM Connected, and NHL Moments Live. GM Connected takes Be a GM and brings it online for up to 750 players to participate in. GM Connected is very ambitious but I think it will be only popular for large communities. NHL Live Moments let players relive classic moments from the 2011-2012 season and other classic NHL moments. EA has promised to deliver more moments from this season, but since there is a lockout, hopefully EA can deliver other moments from past seasons.
Although the new skating system and AI are great additions, the game suffers in some points. In game, while simply skating around an opposing player, the puck will sometimes be simply taken away from you. In other cases, whether it be you or the opposing team, the puck seems to be magnetically attracted by hockey sticks. The instances are frustrating especially in critical points a hockey game.
With no hockey season in sight, NHL 13 is great way to get any hockey fans through the season. With a huge technology leap with the ”True Performance Skating” and the ”EA Sports Hockey I.Q.”, this game is a must have for any hockey fan. With the familiar game modes such as Be a GM and Be a Pro, and also some new ones such as GM Connected and NHL Live Moments, NHL 13 will be enough for fans that love hockey.