Don’t even argue it, NHL 09 was a fabulous game even if you loathed the sport of hockey. It has possibly one of the best features in a sports game yet, the EASHL, which is an online league where you create a player, join or create and manage a team along with fellow teammates and play against other player in the online league. Within this you level up your player RPG style and in a way the game encourages making friends online to create a thriving team, something that has in my experience spread common social networking in online gaming. This feature alone has managed to bring in enough EA NHL fans and newcomers alike to make it easily the most popular sports game of the year.
The popularity of this game has dragged in a widespread desperation to win of course, which in turn leads to players’ “glitching” of the system, as with any other game. In the early months, the game was plagued with easy goals that involved a simple move and then “toe-drag shot” after crossing the opposing team’s blue line, which almost made the game unplayable unless you had teammates that could stop the play on command. It then became a game of “who could glitch the game the best and most” which has all but polluted several excellent multiplayer games in the online console age.
Since the first major “glitch-goal” as many have come to call it, there has been an update to the game which also fixed several other hiccups in the game. But this certainly has not stopped players from polluting the game with their many different efforts in destroying other teams with plays that shouldn’t happen in a real life NHL game. I mean, that is what EA is going for right, a real life NHL simulation? Since the update, players have also found that to skate backwards is to automatically score on breakaways, the computer goalie does not cover his nearside post very well, and that any computer defender has hardly any ability to stop passes directly in front of their goalie. Of course, all of these are quite annoying to any team that doesn’t have a full set of human players at all times, which the game does seemingly try to push for (You receive more ranking points per game with the more players you play with). I will admit that I have been guilty to one or more of these incidents on a few occasions, along with some of my online teammates, but that is only the minor junk in the game.
Wrap Around Slap-Shot
(I won't even mention or show the other less obvious ones)
Try playing as a hitting defenseman, or even as a forward with good speed and checking capable of lining up a good hit. You’ll soon see that lining up such a great hit worthy of some stress relief is quickly averted by a cheap player with quick enough fingers. With a quick button tap, players have found that they can simply jump right up in the middle of a hit animation which can lead to breakaways (where usually they use the backwards skating goal) because even the successful hit takes your player out of position. Another big problem is the lack of interference calls. I played a game the other day and counted up 26 hits on my player. Three had been called penalties, Three had been legitimate hits, and the other 20 were well away from playing the puck. It almost looks like a football game on the ice (compared to 5 yards within the line of scrimmage I guess), which takes a lot of flow out of the game. The biggest thing to complain about is the fact that players have been cheating the system and creating players with 99 stats in everything, making the game incredibly fun (sarcasm INCLUDED). I won't even get into that too much, if you want to cheat too then you can probably youtube it and hopefully get your account suspended eventually.
As a hockey fan, and former player, I always look to this game for some personal gratification. NHL 09 really has delivered, but its such a shame to watch a great game be crapped upon by gamers that don’t even seem to respect the game of hockey but would rather just beat it to a pulp. In the end I’ll still be playing this game (in division 9, Muffin Men represent!) of course, but I look forward more and more to those patches and updates every day unfortunately.