With FIFA and Madden leaping into the next generation systems, it was time for hockey to get a facelift. NHL, a video game franchise for all hockey lovers around the world has made its debut in next gen consoles with stunning visuals, excellent game engine and an updated roster. The game ensures several hours of entertainment at a time if you do not have an alarm clock nearby.
NHL 15 is all about getting the player immersed into the game. The game truly feels like next gen console quality and gives you the best immersion possible. And it starts right away when you start an exhibition match. At the start of the match, you get a full motion video shooting the exterior of the stadium, after which you can hear the broadcast commentators Eddie Olczyk and Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick introduce themselves and give a brief overview of the match.
The level of attention paid into these intros are clear after watching the beautifully rendered stadium, and its surrounding cityscape. However, the real praise should be for the clever implementation of these intros which are short, but impressive. Once the game begins, and if you are playing the game for the first time, its quite possible you will be stuck watching the visuals and absorbing every detail. The graphics and animation effects are just gorgeous.
More than winning the game, we were looking in awe at the fluid movements, the reactions of players on the ice and bench when they score a goal or concede one. If not for those EA ad banners on the edges of field and other arcade elements like player indicators, one might mistake it for a live match.
Apart from animations and visual effects, the AI in game has been updated to become smarter. Rash offensive solos are punished brutally by the AI team while planned and intentional steps are always rewarded with a chance of goal. However, you will have to change your approaches regularly as the computer player learns from its mistakes and adapts accordingly. And while your own computer controlled team mates might not always look as smart as their opponents, a bit of practice will help you synchronize.
All in all NHL 15 is the most gorgeous looking virtual hockey experience you can get right now. The updated physics and visuals, along with slick animations and superior sound effects really immerses you into the game. And while it might take a couple of matches for you to get synchronized properly, the effort pays off really well. The game is available on both Xbox One and PS4 right now.