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NHL 15 is an attractive game for all hockey fans

EA's first attempt at next-gen hockey is one of the more disappointing full-priced releases so far on Xbox One and PS4. Never mind that NHL 15 looks great and plays just fine, the problem comes from the fact it is a mere shell of the game it once was (and still is) on Xbox 360 since it has a huge number of features and modes from past entries stripped out on next-gen. Longtime fans of the franchise will be shocked at how bare bones it is. With that said, more casual hockey fans might not care or even notice what is missing and will probably have a great time. Its a tricky game to review, to be honest, but we give it our best. That’s it my night is over. I either quit out of the match or watch the rest from the box, eugh! I watch it and my team ends up losing the coach blaming me for not knowing when to start a fight! (I was standing up for my team mate, he doesn’t agree). The next night the same team, but at home! I score two quick early goals, have another bout of fighting and then score the winner in the third. We win, the crowd love me and they show it!
 
One of the most-touted gameplay changes in NHL 15 begins with a fundamental reworking of physical interactions via “12 Player NHL Collision Physics,” which is basically a “bullet-point” list to say that all players on the ice-including both goalies-are now potentially affected by physical interactions at all times. In practice, this will be readily apparent to player, especially those veterans of the NHL franchise who are used to crashing into the net with impunity from past games. Doing so in this year’s game will almost certainly spill the opposing netminder, and more often than not will result in a penalty for Goaltender Interference.
 
Most importantly there is no EA Sports Hockey League or Connected GM, no way to create and compete in leagues with your friends or take a team you’ve built from the ground up out into the world. All you can do online is play a ‘vs’ match or roll out your randomly generated HUT. As you would expect with so little going on online the Hockey Ultimate Team and ‘vs’ games play fine. It takes seconds to find a match and you can skip through all the set-up and cut-scenes quickly to get to your game. Playing online for me was lag free and without any dramas - except for the score at the end.

 
When EA Sports announced NHL 15 for the new generation of consoles, I couldn't have been more thrilled. I'm an avid hockey fan, backing my local Avalanche any chance I can get and even cheering on the Bruins every once in a while. And the idea of the game stepping up to the next level with everything we've come to expect from the NHL franchise was really something to look forward to. Which makes it all the more awkward when I played the final game. When it comes to core mechanics, NHL 15 truly delivers, with all the excitement of a one-timer going into the net and a last-second goalie save still being completely intact. But when it comes to delivering the crucial content that fans were expecting from this series' debut on new consoles, NHL 15 can't quite finish the power play.
 
It’s indicative of what NHL 15 is, really. For every advancement, there’s a step back. This is most obvious in the sheer amount of content that has been stripped out compared to previous entries in the franchise. Indeed, the game feels positively gutted. The list of loses is staggering: GM Connected, EA Sports Hockey League, Winter Classic, Be A Legend, and even season mode are completely gone, and the modes that have survived the culling have seen reductions in some way. Puck physics, as aforementioned, have been updated this season. Now it slides with momentum more recognisable as that inherent to Earth, with how hard it has been impacted altering its behaviour in a positive way. This is game-changing during moments that require power, as well as those requiring finesse. If you don't get the right power and timing on a clearance then you won't send the puck far enough from the defensive end to fully snub out the danger.
 
To make matters worse, the little control you still have left becomes all the more complicated due to the panel user-interface system that’s now permeated every EA Sports franchise. Yes, being able to jump to my favorite modes as soon as I start the game up is a welcome addition, but making trades, changing my lines, and even just resting my goalie have all become a chore because of this new system. The old list system had its problems, but it was nowhere near as bad as what this universal UI homogenization by EA Sports has done. Changing your lines is so difficult that in Hockey Ultimate Team, one of the patches is solely to help adjust this. I wish this patch were for all game modes, because changing lines and making adjustments in Be a GM right now is a nightmare.