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NHL 15 sadly befell the same trap that most of their new generation games have had over the last two generations by underwhelming greatly

Carrying an annual franchise from one console generation to the next is no easy task. But as EA Sports has demonstrated, it is certainly viable, with last year’s FIFA and Madden not missing a beat being ported onto the newly available consoles. The NHL development team, meanwhile, chose to stick with the current generation in 2013, citing budget and time constraints. Great things were promised for when the next-gen version of the hockey sim franchise did arrive. As NHL 15 skates into stores this week, the title offers revamped presentation and somewhat improved gameplay, but shockingly not much else.
 
For avid hockey fans and video gamers (like myself), September 9, 2014 was a very exciting and long-awaited day. Why? Because arguably one of the greatest sports video game franchises of all time released NHL 15, the latest installment in EA Sport’s hockey series. This year’s release is even more exciting than in previous years because it is the first game in the franchise to be released for the latest next-generation (next-gen) consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But before getting into the next-gen consoles, here’s a brief review of the changes from NHL 14 to NHL 15 (or the lack thereof) for the current-gen consoles (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3).
 
Anyone that has played a sports game has undoubtedly been hit with the passing comment of, “Oh, you are playing a game. I thought you were watching it live.” I’ve always found this commentary to be somewhat silly. I clearly remember playing NHL 2K on the Dreamcast in my grandmother’s living room on Christmas day and her being astonished that were playing the hockey game instead of watching it. As much as I’ve played the games though, I’ve never felt that if I walked into a room, I would mistake a video game for reality. That is, until NHL 15 started up.

 
If it was not the physics, than I can at least tell you that the visuals are solid as well. Especially when it puts full motion video of the hockey broadcast team from NBC Sports in the game. This might be an old trick, but it does make the game feel like a broadcast of NHL hockey. It also helps that most of the arenas and players are modeled to look exactly like their real world counterparts; unfortunately, things are missing here as well. In terms of the arenas, the virtual ice palaces of Chicago and Carolina are not carbon copies of the buildings that house the Blackhawks or the Hurricanes. The same issue appears to involve the players. I always play as the Toronto Maple Leafs and I found that Phil Kessel looked like Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk looked like James van Riemsdyk; however, for some reason James Reimer did not look like James Reimer to me.
 
While the graphical leap is very impressive and the game plays very well, NHL 15 is a massive disappointment. The game is incredibly bare bones and while features like Online Team Play will be patched in later, the initial release is missing way too much and seems like we are back to square one this generation.
 
Major favorites like EASHL and online team play are completely gone, at least for now, so the game feels almost like a hollow shell of what it used to be. The graphics and presentation may be worth it for you if you only care about playing online or against friends in person, but otherwise you may want to wait until more features may be patched in or just hope that this is corrected next year as we saw with Madden’s second try at the eighth generation.