I picked up my copy of NHL 10 from Best Buy today, and it was not a great experience. First the employee at the store did not even know what NHL 10 was and then I found out that the game was still in the warehouse. Not quite the same in New York as back in Canada.
Anyways, the game is still lots of fun but EA Sports spent too much time adding new gimmicks rather than fixing what was wrong with the old game. Here is a quick review with my preliminary thoughts on game play.
- The new fighting system is nothing to write home about but it is an improvement on the 09 version.
- The new after the whistle feature was fun the first few times. It is nice to see the computer actually fight back when you lay out their star player after the whistle.
- The computer does not score every time in the shootout against your AI goalie with the little snapshot shortside.
- The old cutting to the goal line and then crossing the crease does not work nearly as well thanks to improved defenders (they will pin you to the boards if you try to beat them wide).
- Hitting is much more difficult. The AI does not just skate straight into your hits and actually throws out some nice dekes.
- There are way fewer stick penalties than in 09. Nice to see you do not have to worry about getting a penalty every time you use stick lift.
- I really enjoyed how players bobbled and lost control of passes in their skates. Very realistic.
- The graphics are still nice, and the game flows very well.
- I could do without the new passing off the boards system. It led to way too many passes into no-man’s land, but it may just require a little practice.
- I am not a fan of the pinning to the boards feature. It makes it extremely difficult to get around defenders, and it seems like it is way too easy for the defeceman to pin you against the boards. However, like my above point, it may just take some getting used to. On the bright side, it also reduces the effectiveness of fast players, who were way too good in 09. You cannot just use Simon Gagne to burn around defenders anymore.
- I only played a couple of games on pro, but the goalies were terrible. They were absolutely helpless on one-timers in close, and routine dump-ins from the neutral zone gave them fits. Hopefully an increased difficulty level will improve them.
- The players still routinely overskate lose pucks and fail to knock down loose pucks in the air. This was my biggest issue with 09, and does not seem to have been fixed.
- The players were a bit more cognisant of the blue line than in 09, but I still had a couple of occasions where my defenceman brought the puck back out over the blue line when there was no need to.
So as you can see, EA added some new features that I will probably enjoy once I get used to them, but failed to fix a couple of big problems from 09, like terrible goaltending and players picking up loose pucks. It is still one of the best games out there, but if dropping $60-70 on a video game is a problem for you, stick with your copy of 09. My next step will be testing out Dynasty Mode; hopefully I am not able to trade Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau for Alex Ovechkin like I did in 09.