Review: NHL 14

NHL 14 is a big stride forward compared to NHL 13. With a brand-new fighting engine and refinement of the skating mechanics, it’s the best hockey game since the classic NHL 94. And with the inclusion of the NHL 94 anniversary mode, it’s a must buy for all hockey fans.

Twenty years ago, I was sitting in my room back home in Gothenburg, Sweden. I had gotten a Super Nintendo for my 8th birthday along with the NHL 94 game. I would play the game hours on end, winning the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings time after time. This iconic game is what got me interested in video games, and cemented my love for hockey.

Fast forward to present time. Now I’m spending hours upon hours with NHL 14. I didn’t care much for NHL 13, instead I ended up sticking with NHL 12. But with NHL 14, I feel like the people at EA Sports has come up with a great game.

The new Enforcer Engine (based of EA’s Fight Night) is awesome, and the fact that fights happens in a more natural way instead of being like a mini game within the game is a big plus. The focus on more realistic hits is also a welcomed addition for me. Come at a guy in full speed and you don’t even have to push a button in order to knock his butt on the ice.

Overall tweaks has been made to the gameplay, and the only negative thing I have to say is that the AI is a bit dumb on lower difficulty settings and could use some further improvement. Skating feels great and it takes the best parts of simulation, but with an arcade feel to it.

The presentation is as usual superb, with great visuals and the play-by-play commentary is good, with a few minor exceptions. The graphics are really great and it’s impressive what the developers have accomplished in cramming out that type of performance from the PS3 and the Xbox 360. The soundtrack is awesome (a EA Sports staple) with artists such as Soundgarden, Bullet for my Valentine and Dropkick Murphys.

The Live the Life mode gives hardcore fans the opportunity to create a player and take him (or her) from juniors all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Press interviews, endorsements and developing your player are some of the off-ice things that gives depth to this mode which can easily make you spend a whole afternoon and evening in front of your video game console of choice (trust me I know).

Another great feature in the game is the NHL 94 anniversary mode. A great bit of nostalgia where we get that blue-tinted ice, pixelated stars around the players and simplified NHL 94-style controls. No offsides or penalties, just pure fast-paced fun.

Be a GM mode is another great time consumer where you get the chance to do what every hockey fan dreams of, prove that your better than your favorite team’s GM and create a team that can go all the way (this must be especially true for Flames fans).

Overall, this is the best hockey game ever made and it’s a game that will continue to be one of my go-to games on the PS3, and I can’t wait until NHL 15 comes out on next-generation consoles.

Total score: 4.5 out of 5.

Sebastian Norén

Sebastian Norén

Sebastian Norén is a 29-year-old sports-fanatic from Gothenburg, Sweden. Seb Emigrated to the United States in 2006 to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. After a couple of years at Santa Barbara City College, Sebastian moved to Phoenix to attend Arizona State University and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication where he graduated in late 2011. Sebastian has been covering the Phoenix Coyotes for Swedish sports site SvenskaFans.com since 2011 and also hosts the site’s weekly NHL podcast. Besides hockey, Sebastian is a lover of UFC, soccer, football and basketball. Follow Sebastian on Twitter @SebNoren

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