I have been a fan of the NHL series since '09. I have struggled through it all since '09 in hopes that it would only get better as it is a perennial sports game. I loved NHL '11 I really thought that it was the step to the perfect hockey game of the 7th gen consoles.
When NHL '12 came along it's first month had my hopes rising sky high as I was having a lot of fun playing HOCKEY, not just another wannabe game. Albeit the hip checks were a little over the top, after the first week people stopped being as childish as they were at launch with it and just played hockey. Then the big mean EA update monster started eating away at the playability of the game. More and more of the lines between it being a game and it being hockey started to blur with each update. Like a cancer EA kept chewing away at the vitals of the game that made it like a good hockey experience.
After the announcement of NHL '13 I found myself getting a little of my excitement back. "Hell yeah a new hitting engine" I thought "That should fix all the troubles I was having in 12". Hitting is a major part of controlling the possession of the puck for either team in hockey. Hitting plays a major role in crowd excitement and overall morality of the teams. "Wow and new skating engine... look at how realistic it looks" yet another thought with the new videos coming out hyping the game up to enthusiasts of the series.
Well out comes the demo. I played it. I liked it. I finally at that moment felt like EA listened to the fans who lent our voices to EA in hopes they would listen as they seemed to have little clue as to what hockey meant to us as a whole. Game released and I start playing online to get leveled up for EASHL (club for those who don't know EASHL). Game is nothing like the demo. Poor hitting, terrible turning, virtually no way to score on these now superman like goalies. I think to myself "You know it's probably just the low level of my player. I'll level up and see how it goes."
2 months later and 800 games later I finally, through painstakingly glitchy and non-hockey like games I achieved legend 3. Take into account that I was in the top 50 LW's in '12 so I am no slouch on the game what so ever. The game after updates has gotten a little more manageable, but is far from a shadow of what '11 and '12 felt in comparison. I started playing other games and letting NHL '13 collect dust until June of 2013. I get back into the game and play with some familiar faces and decide "Well it's not great but it's the only hockey I got right now". I play for a bit longer and give up after a nice streak of frustration in august. I decide to wait for '14, although I was hesitant to buy it at all as the trailers seem to point that it's just an patch of '13 with some FIFA physics thrown in.
Here it is kiddos the moment of truth. What do I think about the latest installment of NHL '14 after 3 months of playing it?
Fail with a capital 0. Outside of the newly updated ambient sounds of a real hockey rink and a good tweak to the hitting physics this game fails to capture the realism promised(once again).
Hockey play is dominated over easier glitch goals (both on computers and humans alike). The gap between a casual game and club is so wide it's like playing two different games sometimes. While you can score a little easier in some areas, the most realistic scoring plays and angles are next to zero in comparison to twitchy movement to confuse the cpu. I am taking a long break from EA's sports series until I am well assured that they have taken their heads out of the money pile long enough to realize their fanbase is beginning to despise them. I know more than a few people who play angry more than neutral or happy and yet the only reason they keep playing is the monopoly EA has over the majority of their sports games. FIFA is the only one I play that I can think of that has at least some competition.
Let's not mention that EA's servers are becoming some of the worst with constant failed loads into games, drops from games, and signing you out of EA network constantly at times. (YES I have all my port forwarding correct and run at 50mbps so NO it is not on my end). Everyone I play(ed) with have all the same problems.
Some of you will bash me for this, some of you will praise me for this. At the end of the day the game is mediocre overall. Too much time spent on gimmicks and the fundamentals dwindle in the wake of shiny new things.
Thanks to anyone reading this as this is my first review on N4G hopefully not the last.