The latest edition to the award winning NHL series, NHL 10, promises to deliver more than the previous titles in the series in what is almost certainly the best hockey game available on the market. The question that remains is what this game has to offer over its predecessor, the immensely popular and well received NHL 9.
It seems that the developers have followed the age old adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ in terms of the gameplay of NHL 10. That initial first step onto the ice may have you checking whether you actually inserted the right disk into your Xbox due to the startling similarities. However, it won’t take long for the subtle differences to make themselves known to you, enhancing your gameplay in a whole new way. It’s now possible to hit the hockey putt toward the goal from an airborne position and the mechanics of passing to your other team members have been greatly improved.
Improvements can also be found in the addition of a board play feature that grants you the ability to pin your enemies against the wall. You’ll even be able to jump into a first person mode for a very painful-looking fight with your competitors in between plays. All in all it’s a lot of little changes that make to create a vast improvement to the whole.
Gameplay modes will look familiar to seasoned veterans of the series, with some new additions thrown in. Playoff and Season modes remain and still offer hours of enjoyment as you take your team through either a simulated playoff bracket or the longer league calendar itself. However, these classics are now supported by two that will feel completely different; Be A GM and Be A Pro.
The Be A GM, or General Manager, mode allows you to enjoy gameplay on the ice, while getting into the nuts and bolts of how a team works behind the scenes. You’ll be involved in signing on new talent and trading your weaker players with other teams. If that’s not where your interest lies then select Be A Pro from the opening menu to actually live the life of an NHL player. You’ll be scouted, you’ll be drafted and through playing games and improving your skill you’ll become the greatest player that ever was. Although the Be A Pro mode was included in the previous NHL title there are enough new options to enjoy playing it again.
NHL 9 was highly praised for its excellent multiplayer mode so, although some improvements have been made, the majority has been left untouched. That means you’ll still have access to some great game modes such as team play featuring up to six players on either side in a head-to-head battle, shootouts, versus one-on-one matches and more. However, now you won’t need to worry about the lag that you may previously have experienced. Even with the stunning graphics and animations on offer the game will run as smoothly as if you were playing alone.
For diehard fans of hockey, NHL 10 is a purchase sure to occupy hours of time. Even those unfamiliar with the game will enjoy the variety of play and the many different options available. However, unless your dreams are dominated with pucks and hockey sticks, you are likely to find that sticking with your copy of NHL 9 may be the better route.