Electronic Arts made a few big splashes with their National Hockey League series. The first game to be completely featured on the next-gen systems has already seen some big improvements.
Right now, the biggest improvement that I love is the NBC Sports Network integration into the game. If you are unaware of the broadcast team for NHL 15, Mike “Doc” Emerick will have the play-by-play duties with fellow colleague Eddie Olczyk as the color commentator. TSN analyst Ray Ferraro will also be in the game adding information into the broadcast booth.
The reason why I love this change is not because I disliked Gary Thorne or anything of the sort. I love when games have full integration with a real-life broadcast team to add realism to the game.
I remember in one of the old NCAA Basketball games, they had full CBS and ESPN integration with the likes of Dick Vitale and many others from both networks. It added something special to the game.
The only problem with this is that Emerick is known for telling great monologues and he is known for announcing like a radio broadcast. It will be interesting to see if he sounds choppy and unnatural in this edition.
Another big problem is the AI. Just yesterday, I was playing NHL 14, and the AI outsmarted itself and led to a goal against for me. I was playing as the Devils, and Brodeur went out to play a puck halfway into the zone with a guy breaking onto his position. By the time he got the puck, the AI stripped Brodeur and led to a goal with 1:47 left, giving me a loss.
On another occasion, Brodeur tried to cover up the puck, but instead of doing that, he missed the cover completely and the other team took the puck and scored. While a lot of these situations can be dependent on skill of the goalie, I assure you that these freak things should not happen.
In any EA game, the AI always tends to be the biggest problem. People always claim that they avoid the problem and instead put in systems like the Enforcer Engine (which I love) and in Madden, new RB physics and Gameflow.
The problem may have always been that they do not have the resources to fix it correctly. With the new technology, maybe now is their chance to make huge strides in saving their AI and a lot of their customers in the process.
What do you think needs to change with NHL 15? Sound off in the comments below.
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