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NHL 12 Review

NHL 12 Review

NHL 12 is the next step in a long series of progressive improvements that have steadily made EA's NHL franchise one of the best if not the best in the simulation sports world. The biggest issue that all sports game have in the new era of DLC is how to justify the 60 dollar a year price tag. EA Canada has focused on steadily improving the simulation experience each year to ensure that each game plays more and more like the real thing. This year's flagship feature is a new physics engine that solves so many complaints that long time fans of the game have had with the game when it comes to body-checking.

The new physics engine changes the entire approach that players must take to the game. The most important thing this new engine has done is make it so that small players can only get big hits if they come in from the perfect angle. Previously, Nathan Gerbe, 5'5”, could take out Hal Gill, 6'8”, with relative ease. This means that defensemen whose primary role is taking up space and being able to dominate forwards along the boards are better able to do so, which improves how the teams who employ this style of defence feel and play. The other notable improvement is the dynamic nature of the hits. Players no longer change positioning magically to make the hit logic line up, and there is a dramatic reduction in the number of ridiculous physics defying hits.

A feature that was also built into this news engine is net front battles which are such a key part of how the modern NHL game is played. This feature fixes one of the glaring flaws that previous versions had when playing against another human, as certain situations would develop where a player would end up at the far post and there was no way to contest his positioning, instead having to rely on a perfectly timed stick lift to prevent a goal.

When it comes to making a good simulation game, the most important element is how the AI reacts to the player's inputs. EA Canada has taken another step forward here, as the various teams and players feel more like their actual playing selves. But while on the whole this system is an improvement, especially in terms of players going to the net and defensemen knowing when to pinch and when not to, it's not without its problems. The fundamental problem with this new system is that it feels like some players follow these new traits way too strictly even in situations where it makes absolutely no sense. For example, using an actual situation that happened, there is 2 minutes left in the game and the score is 3-2. The puck comes around the boards and the defenseman pinches down to the puck, loses the race, and gets beat easily, leading to a 2 on 1 that resulted in a goal, which tied the game. This is a mistake that would never happen in the NHL. Overall the AI is a definite improvement however it feels like a couple of additions need to be made to the code to stop certain situational issues from happening.

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