NHL 16 offers big improvements in latests installment

Hockey 16By: Ben Boezinger

I pick up my PS4 controller and hover my cursor over to the NHL 16 application. I start it up with anticipation and excitement. Jonathan Toews body explodes onto my screen and lights up my dark room. The brown carpet illuminates until the EA Sports logo pops onto my screen where it glows dark red and blue, and the game starts loading. The main menu cracks out onto the flat screen TV. Since my favorite team is from Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg’s bearded face is plastered on the screen along with Pavel Datsyuk.

Playing your first game, the first thing you notice will be the all star commentary duo of Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk. From the NBCSN network, they run mostly Wednesday night rivalry night games, while occasionally working the nationally televised Sunday afternoon games. They start out by giving a pre-game intro about the teams playing or one particular player on either team. Emrick continues throughout the game as the play-by-play commentator with Olczyk as the occasional color commentator, mostly to critique the play by both teams. While the commentary as a whole is stale and mostly from last year’s games, there have been a few times where Emrick’s commentary has been strung together perfectly timed in ways that I have only heard in real games.

The skating and movement was a big thing that EA has striven to perfect over this offseason, and I think that they succeeded. While playing on defense, you can quickly snap your body around to square up with a forward as he charges in the zone.

From there on it is always a challenging guessing game. Deciding on whether to play the body, passing lane or puck is what I think is most fun about the defense in this year’s installment. The risk/reward factor is most intriguing and can dictate your play style and the flow of the game.

When on offense, defensemen and forwards can move quickly and gracefully throughout the zone to set up for quick passes in the slot, one timers and confusing the defense to stride in for an open one-on-one with the goaltender. The new seamless puck pickups allow for better and more controlled breakouts that also bring authenticity to the way they are executed.

When you open up a good breakout, there are many new options for the way you can continue the play, like taking it up wide and setting up for a pass or trying to deke your way through the defense and put it on the goalie.

The new arena atmosphere adds to the authenticity of the games played. The loud screaming fans along with the patented arena sounds makes you really feel like you’re at the game. Turning my surround sound up and playing the game brought a smile on my face as I felt I was actually at the stadium. The cuts on the ice shouting through my speakers and the player chatter caught me by surprise. The new player and brand authenticity creates new player customization options and enhanced physical features on stars like P.K. Subban and Tyler Seguin make the game, players and teams more recognizable and personal. It connects you to the game and makes modes like GM and ultimate team better and more incapacitating.

However, there still are some problems with the game. When I was playing modes like Ultimate Team and 6 V 6 online play, the online connection was quite bad. Playing Ultimate Team several times, I was winning by a large amount in the third period, and the servers would just cut. This was particularly frustrating when I would get cheated out of my coins and Packs.

The fantasy aspect of the mode was extremely worthwhile with the fun of building an all-star like team with your favorite players from the NHL and leagues around the world. Also, with the edition of offline seasons, you can now avoid the spotty servers and take CPU teams to their grave and build your team to take down real player opponents and jump divisions all the way to the top.

While I played mostly defense in the career mode’s player role, I can tell every position has been heavily revamped with all new player progression system. Now what you do on the ice matters as it affects playing time, your overall and specific attributes. While you can spend time in the CHL and make your way to the draft or start in the NHL and impress the coaches and GM’s, you can make your way up from the AHL and lead your team to victory.

NHL 16 is a tremendous improvement to the disappointment of last year’s edition. It makes up for all the modes and improvements that were left out. Overall, this is a great entertaining game, and I’d give it a score of 92/100.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.