Returning to add more fuel on the fire, NHL 10 shows a little more aggression on the ice.
After you load up NHL 10, and thrown in your minor details (name, etc...) you will be shot through a tutorial of the new features in NHL 10. The tutorial will quickly catch you up with the changes in NHL 10 while giving newbie’s a taste of what they are getting into. NHL 10 doesn't blast a long list of changes at the player, so don't be worried, the tutorial doesn't take too long and you will be on the ice before you know it. NHL 10 isn't a major leap like NHL 09, but it still has some improvements over last years award-winning game. Hockey fans you can't really go wrong, NHL 09 was spectacular, and NHL 10 follows its lead with another solid showing. It's a good time to be a hockey-gamer.
The first thing you will notice about NHL 10, besides how good it looks, are the controls. Continuing on from NHL 09, the controls are streamlined to give the player the most control as possible, however it’s really up to you to play how you want. Thanks to a player friendly settings menu you can switch between different styles including the classic NHL ’94 settings that only has a few buttons. New players or old school fanatics will want to check this out immediately. Starting slow isn’t a bad way to start you career in NHL 10, but it doesn’t beat the fun of mastering the full unleashed controls.
Battle on the Boards
The core game hasn’t been adjusted in NHL 10 which is a good thing. As you probably quested by now, NHL 09 was the big money maker for the series. The few changes in NHL 10 start with the new “Battle on the Board” game mechanic. In all the years the NHL series has been running from EA Sports its surprising that a board game wasn’t added at one point or another. It definitely is a part of hockey, and now it’s a part of NHL 10. Battling for control of the puck along the boards adds another touch of realism to the series. The controls for controlling the puck, or swiping it away are simple to learn, and in no time will you be wrestling with puck while you master the art of the poke check.
Put up Your Dukes
NHL 10 also has a new fighting mechanic that has been put into a first-person perspective. Fighting in the first-person perspective looks a lot cooler then watching two small avatars going at it. Being upclose to the fight makes it all seem more real and impactful. I have to admit even with the fighting looking more cool, its nothing to write home about. The fighting still suffers and lacks any real finesse. I know they are trying to work out the bugs and get this trouble area fixed, although I don't know if the first-person deal is the answer. For now you will have to settle with turtleing in humiliation or pulling out some mean punches like a grace of a heavyweight champ, or at least a wanna be champ. It's fun with freinds, but in all other aspects it fails.
After the Whistle
Also changed up in NHL 10 is the inclusion of "Post-Whistle Action". This means those fast dash hits after the whistle blows won't go unpunished as the refs love slapping after-whistle penalties. If you start pushing around the other team after the action stops you will have to deal with the rival teams Enforcer, or continue on the path to the penalty box as the refs will make the unsportsmanlike call against aggressive behaviour. Uh, first-person fighting, enforcers, unsportsmanlike conduct; it seems EA Canada hasn’t lost their edge! NHL 10 is amped up and looking for a fight.
Stylin' and Profilin'
NHL 10 also adds some preset game styles that can change how the game is being played. I know most of the big time hockey fans like to play around with the sliders and find their personal style of hockey, but if you don’t have the time or experience, the presets are an excellent starting point. What the sliders do, for those not in the know is change ever stat in the game. This goes from the amount of hits, frequency of passing, or how often penalties will be called, pretty much everything to do with the sport of hockey. The ones included in NHL 10 are Default, Casual, Normal, and Hardcore. Obviously this makes EA Sports NHL brand extremely versatile and friendly to all gamers.
NHL 10 - The Bully Addition
Checking out the other new modes in NHL 10 feels more like a revised set-list of options. From the main menu you can jump into the race for the cup with two teams in the “Battle for the Cup” mode, or you can hit up the other modes like normal. From seasons (with 30 player support), to exhibition matches, NHL 10 has it already ready to go. For revisions, you can now play as a “tough guy” in the “Be a Pro” mode which goes perfectly with the new aggressive attitude NHL 10 seems to have... now you have an excuse to be the big bully of the ice. This mode also has another revision where you can purchase new equipment for you player which are earned through making objectives on-ice. This gives you a few nice boosters for you player along with making the experience a little more unique.
A New GM in Town
Another revision has been made to the GM mode, now called “Be a GM” (how original). The GM mode is now a little more streamlined to help players have a more realistic system, and it also feels a more rewarding to put the hours in to being a GM. The new GM tracker gives you goals to meet during your career that will give you new rewards as you progress in your managerial term. Along with a few extra incentives a reputation system has been added to make you reflect on your actions. Trading is a little different now, as your reputation is on the line. All in all, you can’t really go wrong here and the GM mode is highly addictive as ever.
He Shoots, He "Saves?"
Goaltending has also been put under the microscope in NHL 10 along with new ways to score on them. The A.I. for the goalies has been modified to react to shoot better with quicker response and recovery time. In conjunction with the improved A.I. is a whole new set of animations... 250 animations to be exact. The new animations really put some more life into the saviour at the end of the ice with swatting pucks and diving saves. With the goaltending game stepped the new ways to score really makes sense, you got to sneak one past them somehow. The new ways to score include one-timing loose pucks, hooting from you knees, and batting pucks out of the air... all improvements that you see on a daily basis in the real sport.
Looking Towards the Future
In terms of presentation the graphics have stayed fairly consistent with last year’s game. There are a few little animations that make the crowd pop a little more, along with new player movements. Keeping the animations varied and increasing their numbers always help make the game feel more real, and NHL 10 definitely looks the part from a distance. Up close the game still looks a flawed as the character models aren’t overachieving. Still, NHL 10 looks great, but can be obviously improved in a number of areas. The sound is the same deal, good up-to a point. What more could you want really? NHL 10 looks and sounds as good as NHL 09, or maybe even a little better. The only thing that has really changed is our expectations.
Our expectations for NHL 10 might have been a little high given the success of NHL 09. This unfortunately sets up NHL 10 to be a minor let down even before it has left the bench. Well, NHL 10 isn’t a let down by any means, but its also not going to be placed in the same regard as last years skater. The best news is that the NHL franchise finally feels re-energized, and NHL 10 is another great offering of this re-energized game of hockey. The new features are worth the ticket price as I’m sure they will continue to be refined as the series treads on. NHL fans who want their hockey with a little more aggression, NHL 10 is worth the upgrade, for all others feel this one out a little bit, because that old copy of NHL 09 is still the big winner. Keep throwing those punches, and until next year, we’ll keep skating.
Gameplay:9.0, Graphics:8.5, Sound:8.5, Innovation:8.0, Mojo:8.5 Final: 8.5 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 10.15.09