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EA’s NHL Series Seeks To Improve With NHL 11

June 15, 2010
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Every summer, the video game industry descends on Los Angeles for Electronic Entertainment Expo. Thanks to one of my favorite networks, G4, I can watch all of the press conferences by the major developers. Since I essentially play sports titles, the EA press conference is the one I always anticipate the most.

EA’s NHL series is constantly rated as one of the best sports games. For most hockey fans that play video games, it’s a necessary part of their gaming library. Although they no longer face competition from 2K, the developers still seek to improve the game. Which honestly, is a nice surprise. Every year the NHL series out does its predecessor, unlike other sports titles like Madden.

So without any additional build up, let’s take a look at what’s being added to NHL 11.

One of the major additions is the intigration of the Canadian Hockey League into the game. Not only will every CHL team be playable, but junior hockey will be in every game mode. This means that Be-A-Pro Mode will take on new form as you can now take your player from the CHL to the AHL to the NHL. Be-A-GM Mode will now include a new level to scouting as one will look directly to the CHL for potential draft picks.

Another huge change to the game comes in the form of new game physics. Checking animations are no longer pre-generated. Instead movements will look more realistic and if you fail to solidly hit someone, they’ll probably remain upright. This means that a hit that would be dirty in real life, will look closer to the real thing than ever before. Additionally, this physics engine will come into play during faceoffs. Gone are the days of just timing the puck drop right. Unless your stick is in the same location where the puck is, you cannot win the faceoff.

One major issue I had with NHL 10 has been addressed. Games will now featured disallowed goals. Which means all those goals you scored by interfering with the goaltender’s ability to make the save will be taken off the scoreboard. THANK GOD.

NHL 11 will also usher in something that every hockey fan has become used to seeing at an increasing rate, broken sticks. Welcome in the era of broken sticks in NHL games. This small addition will allow the player to face the same in-game issues a real player faces, such as choosing to skate back to the bench for a new stick, taking one from a teammate or choosing to play without a stick. Broken sticks on the ice will also affect pucks that hit them and potentially alter game situations.  It’s a small change, but one that will have a major effect on game play.

User control is heightened from last year’s version. Quick dekes have been added, along with user-controlled goal celebrations. As long as I can do the Byfuglien celebration, I’m happy.

While I’m on the subject of Hawks’ players, Jonathan Toews will be NHL 11’s cover athlete. Although Chicago’s Patrick Kane graced last year’s cover, EA apparently determined it was best to go with another Blackhawk. I’m going to assume this is just following the Gary Bettman strategy of sticking with one team over and over again. Although I’m pumped that one of my favorite players will be on the cover in one of the best sweaters in the league, I wish EA would have given the cover to a player from another team.

Here’s the first look trailer. It has me quite excited. EA’s promises of what is to come for the NHL series has me already looking at NHL 10 as an inferior product.

If you’re a gamer and would like to read reactions to all things E3, I highly suggest checking out FourStoryGamer.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. brent permalink
    June 15, 2010 10:25 pm

    I would have gone with a Canadian Olympic hero for the cover, especially since they added the CHL.

    • June 16, 2010 12:14 am

      Toews was named the top forward of the Olympic tournament. He plays for team Canada.

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