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The stadiums in NHL 16 look better

By now, if you're considering buying NHL 16, you're probably aware of the rather shocking list of features missing from the new-gen versions of the game (I played on PS4). You've probably also heard EA's response and plans to add many of those absent features into the game in the coming months. Simply put, “NHL 16” is beautiful. From the updated animations and arenas, EA’s Ignite Engine showcases the drama, speed and visuals of an NHL game. With an updated physics engine as well, “NHL 16” plays awesome too. More realistic rebounds also put a premium on solid defense, checking and puck-moving skills, making those who play the game passively, pay big time. Those with gaming skills, combined with a knowledge of the game will thrive the most here.
 
The last one is an absolute deal-breaker for me. I haven't touched the game in two weeks because Be a Pro mode, where you create your own player and control only him or her out on the ice, doesn't allow you to simulate to your next shift. In hockey, players are part of a group known as a line. Each team has three or four lines, which each play for about a minute or so before trading out with another line. So in "NHL 16," my player plays about one-third of the total game time. I don't buy it. Every other sports game got it done, or at least did it much better than "NHL 16," which had a Metacritic average review score of 60 as of Friday.

 
Some of the small features that are missing will be pieced in here and there, but that doesn't negate the fact that the game as a whole is incomplete. It's inexcusable, bare bones staff or not, to leave out small pieces of modes that have been present for years, such as mock drafts. It's impossible to comprehend why playing as AHL teams isn't included, or why you can't start in Juniors in BaP mode. How hard would it have been to include pre-season game? If the gameplay itself is your focus, you'll be happy with NHL 16. It's beautiful and the gameplay is addictive. If your game is Be a Pro or GM Connected, you may want to do what I did - buy a HDMI splitter and keep your PS3 and NHL 15. Just be prepared to make the roster adjustments as needed.
 
NHL 15 sadly befell the same trap that most of their new generation games have had over the last two generations by underwhelming greatly. While the graphical leap is very impressive and the game plays very well, NHL 16 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. Now, all of that being said, EA has confirmed that it will be adding addition modes and content over time. That is great news for people who want to play the game now and have faith that what will be delivered will repay that faith. September promises a Playoff Mode and the popular EA Ultimate Team will get some updates as well. October has some Online Team Play and GM Draft modes ready to go.
 
You can read about these here on the EA forums, and while these promises are nice, it's thin ice that EA is standing on in offering what really amounts to some kind of pretty Early Access game. The stadiums in NHL 16 also look better, especially the crowds. According to our fact sheet for NHL 16, the crowds feature over “9000 individual crowd models”. Obviously I haven’t taken the time to try and count every single crowd model in the game, but compared to what we saw in Madden 15, there’s a definite improvement to variety in both look and feel of the crowds. Members of the crowd will hold up signs saying all different kinds of things for their respective teams, taunt players in the penalty boxes and even other members of the crowd if you’re the away team.
 
Even in the couple of days I had NHL 16, I found myself more interested in playing other games, and coming from an ice hockey fan that's a worry. Overall, the game definitely looks the part but because of what's missing it feels incomplete. Further updates may fill in some of the missing pieces, but right now it's as though the developers have gone for style-over-substance, much to the detriment of the franchise.