What you see above is the first image from NHL 12. Yes, finally goalies are targets and nets are not cemented to the ice and made of adamantium. Not only that, but if you look closely you see that the white specks all over the place is not actually dandruff from
Zach Braff Sydney Crosby's head, but snow. Finally, EA has gotten over the hurdle that was the exclusivity deal with 2K Sports and brought the Winter Classic to the best sports game on the market.
While EA is being mum on other new features and fixes until the release of the reveal trailer next week, it is always fun to speculate. Follow me through the jump as we discuss the features of what would be the perfect game.
There have been quite a few NHL video game series over the years, but EA Sports' aptly titled "NHL" series has always seemed to be the game to beat. My personal favorite alternatives were the NHL Hitz series (you know, the series where you could give Claude Lemieux some eye-for-an-eye payback) and NHL Rivals. The NHL series has been a mainstay in my video game collection for years, though, and I have every rendition since 1994 except for 2004-2007, despite no longer owning a Sega Genesis to even play those older games on.
It was widely accepted that NHL 11 was a great game in pretty much all facets. From its game modes to its online play to its actual gameplay simulation, pretty much every part of it was excellent and fun to play. But let's not be quaint; it was missing things that we all so dearly wanted. From outlandish ideas such as a guy I played against online wishing Holmstrom's helmet would fall off so his head could be bashed in (Holmstrom did have 3 deflections and an assist at the time) to normal requests like the traditions of the game being brought in, everyone wants more and more in the series.
So, without further ado, my list of features. Share yours in the comments!
- Traditions - Other than baseball, no sport has the kind of traditions that hockey does. EA would do well to have fans throw octopi onto the ice during Wings playoff games and having Green Men harass the penalized opponents in Vancouver. Ceremonial puck drops are something that would be cool to have, too. In GM mode, scheduling such events could even lead to a more enthusiastic crowd, which brings me to my next point...
Momentum - When a team gets hot, it is nearly impossible to stop them. When you go against a hot goalie... well, need I remind you of a guy named Jean-Sébastien Giguère? NHL 11's momentum was either non-existent or so toned down that it was easy to miss. Not only do I want to see teams get hot during the games, I want their fans to get into it. In NBA 2K11, if the home team is hot, you can't hear anything over their crowd. Basketball fans have nothing on how nuts a hockey fan is, so EA needs to step up their game with this one. Additionally, players need to get hot as well. I want to see Franzen score 5 game winners in a month or get 20 points in 2 rounds of the playoffs. I want to see Stamkos be the best player in the league until February and not score another goal. This is hockey, EA, not checkers.
Retired Numbers & The Hall of Fame - One thing EA has always seemed to have little-to-no respect for is history of the game. When I start a new GM mode, I should not sign Shane Doan (he will be a surprisingly good player with the Wings in 2012 from the looks of it) and see him wearing #19 in his first game. It's off limits. Don't touch it. Don't even look at it. Don't even look at me, EA.
Additionally, we should be able to honor our players by being given the choice to retire a player's number after they retire, and have to schedule a ceremony as well. Even further, I want to be able to view, at the very least, a list of everyone that is in the Hall of Fame, including players that have retired during the game.
- Better Arenas - Everything feels so forced when it comes to arena design in NHL 11. It feels generic, even when they do actually have something recognizable. Lifelike banners, anthems (yes, I think the anthem(s) should be sung in the video game too, for the realism), architecture, crowd chants (Chicago can chant "DEE-TROIT SUCKS" in virtual reality, too!), and mascots should be visible. Close ups of the crowd should happen as they do in games. Sad children should be seen in full war colors watching as their team shakes the hands of the victors at the end of a series. Nothing, besides a pro soccer game between actual pro teams (Sorry, MLS. You don't count), compares to the atmosphere of a hockey game and EA needs to bring that feeling to us all.
- Colin Campbell - Yes, you read that right. Colin Campbell needs to be in NHL 12. The Be a Pro and Be a GM modes need suspensions, game misconducts, head hits, etc. and they need them now. I shouldn't be able to fantasy draft Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber and after every game, see 6 injury notifications from the night before whilst they get away clean. I love it, because I can play a division rival and screw them for the next six weeks by breaking Patrick Kane's hip, but it is an unfair advantage the user has over the CPU and it makes things much too easy.
So there are five of my most wanted features that would help make NHL 12 the perfect game. Far from a complete list, but that is where you come in. What would make the perfect game?
You didn't think I'd go without posting this, did you?