NHL 13 Reviewed: With The League In Lockout, It's A Good Job EA Are Picking Up The Slack

EA's monopoly over the sports video games market has seen them produce a long line of ace ice hockey games, and NHL13 is no different...
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Admittedly, my ice hockey knowledge prior to reviewing this game began and ended at the Mighty Ducks trilogy. However in my enduring effort to be skilled in all things Americana so I might one day move to New York and see how many girls I can land with my accent, I gave EAs brand new hockey game a go.

Doing a bit of prior research on EA forums, fans of the NHL series have long held it as the best EA Sports title out there. Better than FIFA, Madden, or the  much loved and missed NBA Street series. With the current NHL league currently in lockout (the referees are on strike causing serious knock on effects to the league that could well affect 2013/14 season, let alone this one), the release of NHL 13 takes on double importance – it is quite literally the only way for ice hockey fans to get their fix at the moment.

Thankfully, EA have hit the ball out of the park (puck into the goal? Triple deked and scored in overtime to win the Stanley cup? My hockey terminology is C+ at best)

Tentatively loading up the game for the first time, NHL 13 carefully informed me of its brand new feature for this year – True Performance Skating. True performance skating claims to take in weight, force and momentum of players in the ice to make the skating movements true to life. After a few friendly games testing out I can say that skating certainly feels realistic, with players feeling “weighty” as they pick up speed, turn and glide all over the rink. After a quick download of NHL 12 to feel the difference; I can glean that NHL 13 is a advance in realism for the series movement (think FIFA when it introduced 360 degree dribbling) that NHL 12 vets will need a bit of time to get used to, but will eventually enjoy.

Thankfully, EA have hit the ball out of the park (puck into the goal? Triple deked and scored in overtime to win the Stanley cup?

With 3 different control systems, newbies to the series needn’t be intimidated either. I started off playing with the simple 2 button NHL ’94 control option before moving onto a simple “classic” control option before eventually progressing to the standard system where movement is controlled with the left stick and your hockey stick is controlled with the right. Gameplay is fast, fluid and a lot of fun with a wealth of tutorials to help people if you get confused. The option system even suggests which features you may wish to turn off or on if you’re feeling frustrated and need a helping hand. NHL 13 caters to the hardcore and never condescends to the newcomer – it just wants to you enjoy a good game of ice hockey.

It’s a good thing too, because NHL 13 is HUGE. I though my beloved FIFA 13 had a overwhelming amount of modes to waste time with but NHL dumps all over that in terms of content. There is a staggering amount of online and offline modes that are all aimed to different types of players with different wants from the game. Biggest of all is GM Connected mode that allows gamers to manage, play or coach with and against friends in their own 30 team human controlled league with up to 750 members. Let that sink in for a moment, SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY MEMBERS. In addition to that there’s the option for co-op seasons with groups of friends on the same team, tradition GM and Be A Pro modes and a Hockey Ultimate Team.

Simply put NHL 13 is so inviting, so easy to get into and hard to deep and packing so much content that it makes me wonder that maybe FIFA 13 isn’t the best sports simulation out there.

And that’s a big statement from someone like me.

Reviewed on Xbox 360.

You can follow Carl Anka on Twitter @Bubblegum616, if you fancy a game of NHL 13 or any other he’s reviewed, his Xbox gamertag is also Bubblegum616

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