Any kid with aspirations of playing in the NHL has dreamed about winning the Stanley Cup. For some, it was on a homemade rink in the backyard, while others hoisted Lord Stanley's Mug after shooting pucks into a dryer in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. There's one more scenario, though, one that has become increasingly more popular over the last several years.
Young players coming into the league are talking about how they used to sit around with the friends and play the latest installment of the EA Sports NHL franchise. For more than 20 years it's been the only real option for a great video game hockey experience. In fact, for 99.99 percent of us, it's the only time we'll ever get to slip one past Martin Brodeur for the series clincher in the Stanley Cup Finals.
That's why hockey fans are so passionate about the EA Sports NHL series. For most of them, it's the closest they will ever come to fulfilling those dreams. Thankfully, it seems that the team at EA Canada has their sights set on delivering the most authentic experience in history, and here are seven ways EA Sports NHL 15 will make that happen.
Securing Home Ice Advantage
The first time we got to lace up our skates in NHL 13 and play in an arena that we can see from home was truly a special experience. To think that a building you have been in dozens of times was immortalized in a video game is pretty cool.
This year, EA Canada is upping their game and introducing a feature called the Unrivaled In-Arena Experience. Reflecting every authentic detail of a real arena, from the color of its seats to the type of jumbotron above center ice, the developers are doing their best to make sure the atmosphere is as authentic as possible.
He Even Smells Like a Hockey Player
In past years, hockey players in the EA Sports NHL franchise used to have a limited number of characteristics that defined them visually. You could choose big or small shoulder pads, long or short pants and whether you wanted your jersey to be tucked or un-tucked.
In EA Sports NHL 15, players will be treated to the Next-Generation Hockey Player, which has been built using three layers - Body, equipment and jersey. Dynamic cloth will add an all-new level of realism, as jersey's react to the movement of the player's body, as well as external disruptions, like a puck passing over the fabric. This level of realism will bring players to life in a way that gamers have never experienced before.
Where do You Want Me, Coach?
There's no arguing that the EA Sports NHL franchise is the most realistic hockey game on the market. We've already talked about that. But we've also experienced what it's like to watch our AI defender bugger off in the wrong direction while Ovechkin leads an odd-man rush.
This year, EA Canada put an end to that with the all new Vision AI. Now, players will respond to where the puck is, as well as where they project it to go, allowing them to anticipate plays before they happen. With more than 2,500 points programmed on the ice, your skaters will always be on the lookout for what lies ahead, as well as being in the correct position based on their specific role. We're looking at you, Jake Gardiner.
Always Finish Your Checks
Moving on to more good stuff, EA Canada created something it likes to call 12 Player NHL Collision Physics. While we'd be happy to leave the explanation at that, since you took the time to read this far, we’ll explain.
Building off the NHL Collision Physics, this year's version ensures that all 12 players on the ice are held accountable to the laws of physics at all times. This means bigger hits, plus massive pileups in front of the net that result in frantic scrambles and desperate attempts to get the puck.
Some of the Dirtiest Dangles
There's nothing quite like a sick deke that leaves the defender tripping over his feet and the goalie peeing himself - just a little bit - as you threaten to relieve him of his equipment. In what is quickly becoming a laundry list of new features, add the all-new Superstar Skill Stick to EA Sports NHL 15's impressive resume.
Using the right analog stick, players will now have more fluidity with their dekes than ever before. Combine this control with the True Performance Skating tied to the left stick, and there are ways to embarrass your opponent that you can't even imagine. Just keep in mind, if you make us look silly, we'll drop the gloves to settle the score.
New Commentary Team
This point isn't up for argument. Jim Hughson is the best play-by-play guy currently calling NHL games. Unfortunately, he's not going to make an appearance in EA Sports NHL 15.
Still, for anyone who played each new installment of the series, there is no doubt it was time for a change. We've been listening to the same two people, with much of the same commentary for longer than we care to remember.
This year, the new commentary team will consist of Mike 'Doc" Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Ray Ferraro, the trio behind NBC's impressive NHL coverage. It might not be Mr. Hughson, but trust us, these guys are off the charts with their analysis and calling of the action, and it's definitely a major step forward for the franchise.
Hey, is That Sid the Kid?
Each and every year, video games take new strides in becoming more realistic, and part of that involves making sure the athletes look as life-like as possible. As it turns out, EA Canada isn't messing around in this department, since they are also the studio that brought you the realistic looking roster from EA Sports UFC this past June.
With unprecedented player likeness, gamers will be able to not only identify their favorite athletes, but also recognize them from the way they skate, and even the emotion on their faces when they score goals. Along with all the other new features, this is certainly an ambitious title, but with the track record of a franchise like EA Sports NHL, success should be as easy as scoring on an empty net.