hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

NHL 13

Review: NHL 13

5:00 PM on 10.10.2012 // Steven Hansen
  @dtoidsteven

It would be facile to say NHL 12 just skated by, sticking to the winning formula established in franchise’s resurgence. Still, as is occasionally the case with sports games that don’t need radical fixing, last year’s iteration was one of tweaks and balancing: welcomed AI fixes, improvements made to the previously implemented physics system, and so on.

NHL 13, on the other hand, feels like a more substantial improvement over its predecessor, due in large part to the physics system extending into the actual skating, further grounding the game in strong hockey simulation that, simultaneously, is accessible enough to pick up and play. And, given the consistently great scores this series has received over the years, I think you know where this review is going: NHL 13 is pretty great.

NHL 12 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 [reviewed])
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Released: September 11, 2012
MSRP: $59.99

Players no longer feel like gliding ghosts out on the ice. Ice chips spray up on sharp cuts and momentum is preserved. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, after all. When you take a sharp break up (or down) ice, you can feel each stride length digging into the ice. I actually played a game of Madden 13 right after some NHL 13 and felt I had less a solid foot beneath me in Madden, weirdly enough. You’re more grounded on ice.

The extended physics, True Performance Skating, and EA Sports Hockey IQ all work in concert to produce the most nuanced hockey title to date. With the Hockey IQ, the new governing AI, players are aware of every other player on the ice, rather than just those in their immediate vicinity. Goalies are aware of more than just the player controlling the puck at any given moment, while new animations afford them independently controlled limbs that can make for exciting desperation saves and less mechanized, exploitable goal keeping. What all this means, in short, is that play feels true to life, more akin to the fluid, organic art that is professional sportsmanship than a mechanized recreation. Save for some occasionally wonky collision detection on hits, the game is, in some way, indistinguishable from the real-life product you’d watch on television.

This faithful representation does something most sports games don’t: it starts teaching you about the nuances of hockey and does so implicitly. It challenges you, but doesn’t necessarily assume you know what the heck is going on in the sport (and I know plenty of ardent sports fans who actually know very little about the sports they root for so strongly). It does well what great games do, but what sports games often eschew or ignore, basically. It teaches you how to get better through play -- and you often don't even realize it until after the fact.

If you opt to take the brief, explicit intro tutorial, the first thing you do is shoot and the second thing you do is shoot aimed shots. The third thing it teaches you is how to engage in and win a fist fight. Hockey, folks. If you’re curious, triangle (or Y) still engages and it’s still in first person, though it appears to have slowed down and become a bit more measured since NHL 12. Left and right on the left stick to dodge punches, L2 to use your free hand to block, down to tug on opposing player’s jersey – a quick right stick delivers an uppercut. The punching parallels shooting. Flick the stick up (straight, or towards left or right, depending on where the opposing player’s head is) for a jab; pull the stick down and up for a full-fledged punch.

I know I’m in the minority in thinking the fighting in hockey is stupid. “Part of the culture” and all that nonsense. Fighting in the series is rather hilarious, though, emphasizing the inanity of it, like playing a less self-aware NFL Blitz. Of course, it also has the practical use of giving you an energy boost if you win. To its credit, the game also does a good job of subtly nudging you in the direction of proper play without successive tutorials, which is great because there’s way too much content to relegate to tutorials.

The game is as robust as ever, filled with enough different modes to keep you content for far longer than the year’s wait until the next release, though modes like NHL Moments are only good for short bursts. New kid on the block is the huge GM Connected, which can accommodate up to 750 individual players in a single league if you have the bureaucratic wherewithal to organize such a logistical nightmare. Having human-run teams, despite the difficulty in organization, is better than dealing with the offline, improved-but-still-flawed managing AI, from whom you can still bait bad moves (or just let it make the bad moves on its own and capitalize).

I still prefer couch co-op, which NHL 13 continues to do with aplomb. Still, the ambition of GM Connected is duly noted and the heavily invested fanbase will undoubtedly enjoy the opportunity to play, manage, or coach en masse. Hopefully the its next iteration will be a bit more streamlined and optimized, however, as the menu navigation is both a bit labyrinthine and irritatingly slow -- be prepared for a lot of waiting during navigation.

As the third period of a one-to-one stalemate began, after winning a faceoff I made a mad dash for the opposite net. At the last moment, as I skated towards the goalie from the left at breakneck speed, I gingerly slid a pass across the ice to the AI teammate trailing behind me on the other side. I automatically assumed control and flicked the puck into the upper right corner of the net -- just beyond the goalie’s outstretched arms -- that bounced off the steel and in for a goal. Inadvertently, in real life, I fiercely pumped my fist and growled an emphatic “Yes!” Growled, not yelled, because it was well past midnight and I was still playing.

NHL 13, at its most basic level, is just fun to play when you get right down to it, even for someone who might only watch hockey during the playoffs and Olympics, or not at all. With another work stoppage induced in the oft-locked out league, NHL 13 is also one of the few outlets for hockey fans this would-be season, save for getting out on the ice yourself and getting your teeth knocked out. You could do much worse for a substitute.



THE VERDICT

8.5

NHL 13 - Reviewed by Steven Hansen
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Steven Hansen, Features Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure dtoidsteven Tips
Steven watches anime & sports, buys meat out of trucks, dates a Muppet, and is only good at cooking. He stands before you bereft of solace and well on the road to perdition. ('^ω^) more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

guitarvillain avatarguitarvillain
That thought sends shivers down my spine.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Lacking recording/social features aside (I actually do love that aspect of the PS4), I've been really enjoying my Xbone. Sunset Overdrive is like Saints Row meets Tony Hawk and lovingly self-aware.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Wait, wasn't that Pokemon Detective Pikachu game supposed to come out this year?
sakesushi avatarsakesushi
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! They're doing it wrong though, putting up [url="https://www.humblebundle.com/store"]Stealth Inc. 2 for free[/url]
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
Just cleared out a whole village fultoning every single guard. I AM BIG BOSS.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Metal Gear Solid - Marriage - Revengeance [youtube]https://youtu.be/YN470wKT9PM[/youtube]
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Divinity: Original Sin 2 stretch goal lets you be a spooky skeleton. This is what I have dreamed of.
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Going on the record saying a Borderlands movie is a terrible idea.
Tubatic avatarTubatic
Watching Free To Play. I kinda want to try DOTA2, though I'll be very bad at it. Its a very good story of pro-gamer culture, so far. Good Stuff.
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Hello there, I just wanted to say that I'm new here and glad to be part of the community.
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Just tried to explain the word BEAT to an ESL student. Reference.com has 58 variations of the definition. At the least, they can finally understand that Michael Jackson was not asking people to fight each other.
Mediamister avatarMediamister
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
DTOID PAX MEET UP DAY 1 WAS FIRE.EMOJI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube]https://youtu.be/JOXdORyTqVY[/youtube] I told you guys ... The Witcher 3 has more pirouettes than a ballet show. It's ridiculous!
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Are we really calling followers "fappers" on these quick posts? I knew I loved Dtoid.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[youtube]https://youtu.be/z04MAOubUgM[/youtube] This might've been a fun show.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Someone is trying to log into my Dtoid account. I keep getting emails notifying me of bad password attempts. What?
gajknight avatargajknight
If you spend 10 minutes trying to write a Quickpost...can it really be called Quickpost?
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
So I have enough coins to get a new character in Heroes of the Storm. I like big portly characters like the Butcher or Stitches, but I did enjoy my free week of Tychus. Crowd thoughts?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Today I learned that Bad Rats 2 is a thing that is happening. I don't know how to feel about this.
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
NHL 13


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -