NHL 15: Skaters gonna hate

After a year’s leave, EA’s NHL series arrives on Xbox One in what you could charitably call a ‘streamlined’ form in the same way that you could say Sidney Crosby’s teeth were ‘streamlined’ when he took a 100 mph puck to the mush last year. Many of the game modes and features from Xbox 360 are either missing in their entirety (GM Connected, Winter Classic) or are severely pared down. In the RPG-like Be A Pro mode, for example, it’s impossible to influence which team
you’re drafted to, and it’s impossible to be demoted to the minor leagues, even if you score nine own goals or drop an anvil on the coach’s foot.

EA plans to restore some of the missing features, such as online teamplay, via free periodical updates, but NHL 15 is doomed to leave hockey fans used to gorging on the series’ deep feature set feeling malnourished. While it’s commendable that EA is taking the time to refresh each mode individually, this is very much a work in progress. It’s a shame it isn’t reflected in the price tag.

Accept the bare boniness of it all, however, and you’ll be rewarded with a particularly fast and frantic entry to the series with nine-goal thrillers not uncommon. The upswing in goals is due in part to improved player movement teammates are now more inclined to move into open ice during offensive plays, and will take up vacant positions if you, as the puck-mover, drift out of position, allowing you to cycle around more naturally in the search for the perfect shooting angle.

It also helps the goal tally’s cause that goaltenders couldn't stop a beachball with a baseball glove. The puck physics engine has been refined, to impressive effect, but someone neglected to tell the ’tenders, who are as leaky as a puppy’s backside. In all, there’s plenty of work for EA Canada to do, on and off the ice.

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