In textbook timing EA Sports annual edition of NHL has been released. Boasting a renounced vigor to the physical game, NHL 14 is great way to kick off the upcoming hockey season.

Each year EA Sports has the tough job of upgrading their sports games, although an even greater challenge is convincing the public that each annual purchase is worth more than the simple roster update. In NHL 14, EA Sports comes at us with a few noticeable upgrades along with several behind-the-scenes adjustments. We already know EA Sports can build a fine hockey game, so let's see how NHL 14 stacks up.

One mode that is garnering a lot of attention is the NHL ’94 mode, which spotlights the anniversary of the now classic release. It's hard to believe it has been 20 years, and for those who remember playing the original in the 90s, expect to have nostalgic smile come across your face. For others who didn't have the pleasure of spending their youth skating around the aqua-blue ice, this is the true meaning of "old school". Basically, it's hockey stripped down to the basics. So basic in fact that there are no rules, no penalties, no offsides, etc… Yes it sounds totally barbaric, and it is, but it is also totally fun.


Past the sentimental glow of players with star-icons underneath them, NHL 14 focuses on the more physical aspects of the sport. Aka, putting on the hurt. The collision physics have been revised to make the hits even bigger than before. This makes the game instantly more exciting, because everyone loves big hits. Overhauled from FIFA, the new adjustments really fit the progressively quicker game that hockey is becoming.

The physics upgrades also impacts players speed and how impacts are balanced. The game is much more consistent and realistic in retrospect. This also means you’ll have to really line up the hits to get more impact, which has decreased the amount of hip-check madness that used to be exploited. It can take a little bit of time to get used to how the new mechanics fit in, however its primal approach is a step in the right direction.

In keeping with the focus on aggression the fighting has also been re-tooled and effortlessly added into the gameplay without going into any odd camera change. Now you’re in 3rd person, gloves on the ground, ready to go instantly. The system has been also improved when it comes to the moves with more options available during the testosterone bent outbursts. The change is welcomed and feels more organic to the overall flow, although some work can still be done to smooth out the “roughness” during the action in-game fighting.


NHL 14 still remains packed full of modes, with the major adjustment coming to the “Be a Pro” mode, which has been renamed “Live the Life”. Aptly the smarter choice, this mode has you living as a gainfully employed player, "living the life" as they say, on-and-off the ice. It is fun to explore this mode and pretend that you’re really as talented as the players you’ve idolized your entire life. Remember, and just like “real life” you can get yourself into some trouble waters, so it is best to try and stay on the straight-and-narrow. It is also important to note that simulating too many games might land you in more troubles, or even worse, back down in the minors. It's a tricky mode that is hard to appealing if you're not in the center position, or are only a casual fan. 'Live the Life' is a time investment and for the more "hardcore" fan-base. Additionally, if you're not into passive and role-playing aspects then this mode will be a clear pass.

The last major change is the addition of a new deke move. This [RB] thumbstick fandangler is a tricky one to get used especially when you are driving to the net. It’s not a bad idea and works, if you are that skilled. Although for the majority of the time, I found myself too slow react and back to good old spinning for my more “fancy” moves. It is the same with any game, the more you play, the more you’ll become adept with changes. Aside from the points mentioned above the controls remain the same as prior years.


NHL 14 bullies its way on the ice with some retro sheen and big hits. Worth the upgrade for those who put serious time into their game, and not so much if you’ve been getting by with an older copy of NHL. It simply comes down to how much you love the game, and for some of us, we just can’t get enough. [7.8]

  • Everyone loves bigger hits, updated collision physics
  • Old school love with the NHL ’94 anniversary mode
  • New organic feeling fighting mechanics
  • New deke move requires some fancy hands
  • Live the Life could be made more appealing
  • New fighting system is still clumsy
  • A.I. is not always the sharpest
Quote: "NHL 14 bullies its way on the ice with some retro sheen and big hits."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 09.18.13 | Platform Reviewed:Xbox 360

Similar Games: NHL 10 (8.5) | NHL 12 (8.5) | NHL 11 (9.2)


NHL 14

EA Sports

EA Canada


US Release
September '13


X360, PS3

Players 1-4
Co-Op 2-4
Online MP 2-12
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content