Review: NHL 10

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Review: NHL 10

Post by Walsall_Ram on Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:02 pm

In my youth, three Genesis games received a disproportionate amount of play time- Sonic the Hedgehog, Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, and NHL ’94. While the first two titles were typically solitary diversions, Electronic Art’s hockey game was the consistent focus for a burgeoning group of players. The NHL series displayed the power to unify hardcore gamers and sports fans, who all gathered around the television to participate in makeshift tournaments. Both factions marvelled at how the game was able to recreate the nuances of professional hockey, from the required finesse of a victorious one-timer to the frenzied puck-dumping during penalty killing.

Over the years, Electronic Art’s NHL titles have steadily improved, but have never matched the intensity nor finesse of their early hockey titles. While both the twin stick control scheme, and ‘Be a Pro’ modes were both substantial improvements to the franchise, nagging gameplay quirks have prohibited the NHL series from reaching superstar status. After spending a week with this year’s iteration of the game, it can be stated that NHL 10 represents a new pinnacle for the series.

One of the principal improvements is the ability for players to pin opponents against the boards. Although this may sound like a seemingly insignificant development, this addition means that gamers have the ability to slow down a play. Consequently, the oft-neglected corners are now active and more closely resemble actual play, as players attempt to trap the puck between their skates. Along with the increased physicality on the edge of the ice, fighting has been reintroduced to the game. Fisticuffs are presented in a dramatic, first-person perspective that subtly recalls Fight Night’s core mechanic. Players use the left stick to move their goon’s head, while a sweep of the right stick throws a standard or power punch.

Previous NHL titles utilized a makeshift physics model, which resulted in the sporadic peculiarity; pucks could rebound unrealistically, while skaters’ turning speeds and momentum were suspect. This year’s iteration of the game shines with authenticity. Slow motion replays of wrist shots behaved naturally, whereas the inertia of players was convincingly represented. Although the title’s goalies now display a myriad of animation routines and offer a remarkable improvement in artificial intelligence, they will still abandon the crease with precarious frequency.

Beyond the game’s requisite single and multiplayer modes, NHL 10’s ‘Be a Pro’ and ‘Be a General Manager’ modes offers gamers the ability to try their hand at the respective vocations; each adds hours of depth to the already cavernous title. Playing a specific position in hockey offers more longevity than Madden 10’s similar football variation. Although the game’s online modes offered a multitude of competitive and cooperative variations for up to twelve players, the occasional burst of lag damped the overall experience.

NHL 10 captures the fluidity of hockey with a necessarily swift refresh rate. The game is locked to a steady sixty frames per second on the ice, while the enhanced detail of cut scenes display a palatable 30 FPS output. Two aspects of NHL’s presentation greatly contribute to the title’s sense of authenticity. First, Gary Thorne and Bill Clements' commentary is one of the strongest play-by-plays I’ve heard in a game; its speed and variety closely mimic a television broadcast. Secondly, the title marvelously models the intensity of a crowd as they cheer and bustle energetically.

For the last few years, the once legendary NHL franchise has flirted with excellence. With NHL 10, the series has finally reached- and now surpassed its 16-bit zenith, offering a superlative recreation of the popular sport. With a near-faultless presentation, an abundance of content, and a variety of gameplay styles, both hockey fanatics and more casual enthusiasts will likely find NHL 10 to be best sport titles of the current hardware generation.


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Re: Review: NHL 10

Post by BatesAvfc on Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:11 am

Graphics look shit hot! I could see it getting boring for me though, not a hockey fan.
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