The release of NHL 14 is fast approaching, and fans everywhere were finally able to get their first taste of the latest edition of EA Sports’ best selling franchise on Tuesday when the demo hit the digital marketplace.
Included in the demo this year are four game modes: a free skate mode to allow players to get the hang of the skating and one-touch deking controls, a standard play now game (third period only) between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, the new NHL 94 mode consisting of the same two teams, and Hockey Ultimate team.
For those who partake in the ultimate team demo, you will receive a bonus HUT pack if you complete a game and win the HUT tournament against the Halifax Mooseheads, Grand Rapids Griffins, Boston Bruins, and Chicago Blackhawks.
There is a lot that is included in the demo, but it would be nice to have the ability to play a full game like EA gives players in the Madden demo.
The first thing noticed when diving into the gameplay of NHL 14 is just how smooth the game flows compared to last year. In NHL 13, the new skating and physics mechanics were a mess. Often times the game just felt too unrealistic to fully enjoy which led to it getting shelved much quicker than previous editions of the game.
The team at EA Vancouver has tuned up those areas in order to make it a much more realistic experience. No longer do players the size of Danny Briere easily topple a man the size of Zdeno Chara. The only way that happens now is if Chara was previously made off balance by some other factor.
Another nice touch that you can’t fully appreciate until you try it yourself is the new fighting engine. Powered by the popular “fight night” game engine, the new fighting mechanics add a fun wrinkle to the experience. No longer does getting into a fight feel like a burden. It’s back to feeling fun again.
In regards to how players control and shoot the puck, you can definitely tell the difference between NHL 14 and 13. Players now look and feel like the have a better handle of the puck, and aren’t susceptible to the dreaded “magic poke check” from NHL 13. In addition to puck control, it seems as though players have better control over their shots as well.
Pucks will now either go high, stay on the ice, or hover just above the ice depending on the shot selection a player makes with the right stick. It’s a small, but needed, addition to a game that has been viewed as sub par the past couple of seasons.
Overall, the gameplay feels better, and the game is much more fun than last year’s edition. However, this is just the demo, and things can change when the game hits store shelves, but for now, let’s just enjoy what we have.
NHL 14 releases on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 10.