Last year, the one title that stood
out in the pack of sports games from all disciplines was EA SPORTS’ NHL 09. The
game rose above the rest of the sports titles from last year, offering a bevy of
features and online modes that hockey fans shouldn’t have missed out on. Now, EA
is launching their follow-up to the game, NHL 10. This latest entry to EA’s
hockey franchise offers up the same great features as last year’s game, while
upping the ante with some great new features and game modes added to the mix,
making for yet another game that no self-respecting hockey fan will want to
NHL 10 returns to the ice with the
great features of last year’s game, including the solid skating mechanics, deep
online play modes and the defensive skill stick. The game also introduces a ton
of new features, including first-person fighting and board play, as well as some
great new modes, including an up to seven-game Battle for the Cup Mode where you
vie for the Stanley Cup, a Be A GM Mode that lets you control the inner workings
of your team as the general manager, and several other great new additions.
One of the biggest new features this
year is the new fighting system. On the ice, players can start fights with other
players (or conversely have fights started against them) by pressing the Y
button in between plays. Once you’ve instigated a fight, the game will switch to
a first-person view while you and your opponent trade blows. This isn’t a
terribly deep fighting mode (mind you, this isn’t Tekken), but you’re able to
pull off several great moves. You’ll use the thumbsticks to punch your enemy,
block their blows, and you’ll even be able to grab your enemy’s jersey and pull
off a pretty sweet uppercut. It may not be terribly deep, but it sure is fun.
Additionally, the game allows you to
engage in board play with your opponents. You’ll be able to drive them into the
boards, and keep them there while you fight for the puck and hopefully knock it
away from them to your teammates, even by kick passing it. This requires a lot
of skill and patience to pull off correctly, but the end result can be pretty
Last year’s big addition came in the
way of the Be A Pro mode, which let you take a player of a certain position
through a season with a pretty cool story to go along with it. This year, the Be
A Pro mode is largely the same, but there has been a key addition in line with
the game’s new focus on aggression: Tough Guy. The Tough Guy type is the
enforcer position that some players in the NHL embody, meaning those that
intimidate other players and get into fights to keep defenders off of their star
scorers. As in the other modes where your player is ranked in terms of how well
they perform in their given role, the Tough Guy is scored on how well they can
keep other enforcers off of their offensive players, as well as engaging their
opponent’s offense in fights and intimidation. The Tough Guy player type is a
blast to play as, and offers a nice change of pace for players that may feel as
though they’ve exhausted the other player types from last year’s game.
The Be A GM mode is a nice touch as
well, allowing players who want to micro-manage all of the happenings with their
team the ability to do so. In this mode, you’ll be able to create your own NHL
dynasty, signing and trading players and bringing their team to glory.
The multiplayer element of the game
has been largely unchanged from last year’s NHL title, but that’s hardly a bad
thing, as it’s still one of the most complete multiplayer suites in any sports
title. You’ll be able to engage in online one-on-one exhibition matches,
six-on-six exhibition matches with your Be A Pro character, all the way up to
32-team online leagues.
Graphically, the game looks great,
with fantastic animations and solid details. The crowds have been given a
once-over, and sport more details and great animations like towel-spinning in
some games, which is a great atmospheric touch. The player’s on the ice also
sport some great new details, like black eyes after fights, which help pull you
in to the experience.
The sound is also very well done.
The game’s soundtrack is standard fare for the NHL franchise, including a varied
mix of rock and punk tracks, but the commentary by Thorne and Clement push it up
a notch and really provide some great, dynamic commentary to the on-screen
action, seldom missing a beat.
NHL 10 is a great hockey title that
does the improbable by adding even more great features onto the groundwork set
by its predecessor. If you’re a hockey fan, lace up your skates and get ready to
hit the ice.
Review Scoring Details for NHL
The great features from last year’s game return for the 2010 outing, as well
as some great new modes like the Be A GM mode, and some excellent new features
like the Tough Guy player type in Be A Pro, first-person fighting, and board
play that should bring back the fans of last year’s title.
The character models look mostly the same as last year’s title, but that’s
not a bad thing as the players are still solidly animated and sport some great
The music is in line with previous iterations of the series, and includes a
blend of rock and punk tracks. The commentary is great, featuring dynamic work
from the returning duo Gary Thorne and Bill Clement.
The new features add a fantastic new element to the game, putting aggressive
play and intimidation to the forefront in a unique new way.
The same great multiplayer suite from last year returns, offering one of the
most complete online sports experiences to date.
A game that builds on its critically-lauded predecessor with fine new
features, NHL 10 is a great follow-up sports title that other franchises should
take a hint from.