NHL ’11 Preview

We got asked on twitter today for a preview of NHL ’11. All you need to do is ask!

Anyway, the NHL franchise is one of the few sports games the a frequently play and every year I get excited when they announce the new features for next years game. This has happened since NHL ’07 and it is happening again this year.

It seems this year EA has done a wonderful job adding new features. We get to see a more dynamic hitting system, finally you won’t see the same hit like 40 times a game. Not only this, they’ve added a balance system for the players. You see, in hockey games, many times where players are skating quickly and will loose an edge or will loose balance from trying to get around a defender. Well, you are going to see these same things when you pick up NHL ’11. Awesome updates if done well.

Also new this year you will see sticks breaking. This, for me, makes me a little nervous. I’m hoping that they do this right and you don’t see ten sticks break a period. That will just make the game impossible to play. Sometimes when these things get implemented into games you see situations like that. On the upside though, it will add realism. Not only will the sticks break, but they’ve given you the ability to play the puck without a stick, either kicking or with a hand (in the defensive zone). They’ve also given the ability to pass sticks, whether on ice from player to player or from the bench to a player on ice. This, again if done well, will add a lot of realism and strategy to the game that was previously lacking. (Sidenote: I’m hoping that in the Be A Pro mode when you choose equipment stick strength will be a characteristic of the sticks available. Leaving you the option to play a wood stick that would never break but is really heavy or a light composite stick that would occasionally break. Would be interesting to see.)

The biggest and most important improvements to the game this year, in my opinion, are the faceoff controls and the new quick deke controls. The most frustrating part of NHL ’10 for me was the inconsistency of faceoff wins/abilities. Even with the best faceoff man on your side it seemed you could never win a faceoff in the offensive zone. This was super frustrating and I really hope that the new faceoff controls will remedy this or at the very least provide a reason for why I lose all those offensive zone faceoffs. (A better preview is given by the game trailer below)  The other thing that bugged me about NHL ’10 was the length of the dekes. The quick dekes you see in NHL highlight reels were basically impossible to do with any consistency, even when skating alone. This left the offensive player at a severe disadvantage, especially when not playing the AI system. Hopefully these changes balance the scales and give offense a little better chance in the multiplayer arena. (I really disliked playing NHL ’10 online because of those reasons)

Anyway, I’m sure you want to watch this (rather than read what I have to say), the trailer for this year’s release:

With the chance for better multiplayer I’m going to give online another chance. I’m thinking I’ll buy this one for PS3, so if anyone is interested in an EASHL team I’m sure a VG Loft team will be around somewhere. When the time comes I’ll get some more info out, though.

Keep it real,


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