LOTS OF HOCKEY, NOT ENOUGH FEATURES
Might as well deal with the elephant in the room straight away; the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of NHL 15 are missing some major features. While this does not change the fact that NHL 15 is an amazing hockey sim, I feel it is best to address these missing features right away. The fact is it doesn’t matter how much the cloth physics have improved year over year when major, important pieces of the franchise are missing. EA Sports Hockey League, General Manager and Online Team mode, are all missing from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions. Anyone who primarily plays NHL 15 for any of those game modes might as well not even bother (there are plans to add Online Teams back in later on via update). This did not have a huge bearing on my score but keep in mind that the current versions would score higher due to their inclusion of these extra game modes.
NHL 15 is the most insanely realistic game in the series to date. Anyone walking by could easily mistake it for an actual game. The inclusion of real pre-game footage, upgraded crowd physics and, yes, even the upgrades to the cloth physics, give the game that extra touch of realism. This nails the important aspect of gameplay that too many developers fail to focus on, feeling. How a game feels is just as important as how it plays. It is what makes up the difference between good and great, between great and perfect. NHL feels great. I’ve played others in the franchise before, but this was the first NHL that really felt right for me.
I loved the fact that it had multiple control schemes. The traditional stick controls were there for experienced player, but it also had simple controls for less skilled players (Ahem…) that made the game handle just as smoothly for those those that need them. Having all these different control options opens up the game to all kinds of different players. Before I knew it I was pulling off amazing shots, passing with ease, and checking my opponents into next week. Even with only my basic understanding of hockey, based on many repeat viewings of the Mighty Ducks trilogy, I was grinning like an idiot and scoring goal after goal.
I jumped right into a few games and enjoyed all of them. Playing with simpler controls allowed me to ratchet up the difficulty to balance the game for the appropriate level of challenge I was looking for, so the game always felt just how I wanted it to. This also meant I could play as any team I wanted to (although I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t pick the New Jersey Devils) and still have a fighting chance.
The Verdict: 7.3 out of 10
Despite losing some very significant game modes, NHL 15 is still a great hockey sim and, more importantly, a great time. While the missing features will drive some players away, some things will be making a return before the next iteration comes out and some in future releases. Despite all of that NHL 15 still stands as one of the best sports games on the market.
Mike Bertrand is an Associate Writer for MONG and has been a Devils fan for virtually his entire life, although he can’t name a single player. Joe Canada, best goalie ever? Get some Tweets for your face here: @SurvivalHorible.