With the release of EA Sports' NHL 12 on Sept. 13, it's time for puckheads to come out of hibernation and rejoice over the imminent start of another hockey season. But does the latest offering from EA Sports give hockey fans a reason to celebrate? In short, the answer is a resounding "yes," thanks to improved goalie dynamics and contact physics that result in a truly authentic gaming experience—as promised when we spoke with gameplay producer Novell Thomas.
We started the game in GM mode, playing as the Columbus Blue Jackets. Right from the start, you feel like you are actually in charge of a professional hockey team. You control everything from the coaching staff to who's out on the ice. The team owner is in constant contact with you, setting goals for the team and warning you if your job is in jeopardy. STACK gamers will have to create a balanced squad and translate that talent into success on the ice.
But the experience doesn't end at GM mode. NHL 12 features more game modes than most players will know how to handle. You can play in season mode with your favorite AHL team, set up a playoff bracket for a quick chase to Lord Stanley's Cup, put yourself in the game with "Be A Pro" or take on the life of a legend in the new "Be A Legend" mode.
When you take the ice, you have the option of different controlling options that span the life of the series. We opted for dual analog gameplay, so we could manually control our shots on goal.
Gameplay in NHL 12 is easily one of the best among sports video games. EA Sports covers every detail from how hard you deliver a pass to how you dump the puck when you're on the penalty kill. One-timers feel natural and realistic when setting up. Throwing a fake slap shot and deking around the defender for a wrist shot on goal is one of our favorite moves to embarrass the defense and get on the scoreboard.
If you haven't played NHL in a few years, the controls will take you awhile to master. We ultimately recommend learning the dual analog play. Once you master the controls, it's a much more interactive and enjoyable experience.
Yes, it's the only NHL simulation on the market, but EA's NHL is one of the best and most successful gaming franchises ever. With the NHL regular season a couple of weeks away, NHL 12 is a must for hockey fanatics who can't wait to get their fix of action on the ice.
Photos: EA Sports