With the release of NHL 15 by EA Sports on September 9, I am left to ponder about my lifetime of video gaming ever since I started playing those “pong” paddles. I had played some great classics like Blades of Steel, Wayne Gretzky Hockey, and of course EA Sports annual offerings of NHL hockey. It’s clear that hockey video gaming has come a long way. Or has it?
The reviews for NHL 15 have been relatively mixed. The majority of the gaming sites gave this version a 6 or 7 out of ten. Other gaming sites however gave it worse ratings than NHL 14 and other previous versions. To compare between NHL 14 and 15, here is what you don’t get on NHL 15:
- No EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL)
- No Season Mode
- No Create-A-Play
- No Create-A-Team
- No Player Customization
- No Action Tracker
- No GM Connected – instead, an offline bare-bones version of “Be a GM”.
- No Live the Life – instead, a bare-bones version of “Be a Pro”, in which you can’t simulate to your next shift.
- No Tournaments Mode – to be added in September as “Playoff Mode”.
- No Online Team Play – to be updated via a patch in October, but now only 5v5.
So for $70 you get less than half of the previous version? What’s going on at EA Sports? Cut backs? Hurrying to get the unfinished product out? What’s sad about this whole situation is that the consumer has been “hosed” yet again. Many gamers especially those that play online are thoroughly upset with the cuts and the downgrades, and they made their feelings clear on the social media circuit:
— Real Tdubinyoface (@tdubinyoface) September 10, 2014
— House Of J (@SalsaShark46) September 10, 2014
Not only was NHL 15 lacking in content, their marketing should have done better. Why have two guys from the Boston Bruins (of all teams), Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, try to pitch the game in a lame poetic/beatnik fashion? The following video will haunt you, as it did to me. (Good thing P.K. Subban isn’t on the cover of NHL 15.)
So what does NHL 15 and the adage “teaching an old dog new tricks” have in common? Because I am approaching 40, I’m starting to ask myself, “Why am I still playing game consoles?” In the course of my lifetime, I have owned desktop PCs, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Game Boy & N64, Sony PSP, Nintendo Wii and now Xbox 360. I don’t plan on upgrading anymore (to PS4 or Xbox One) since I more significant priorities to deal with, e.g. raising my child. Is it wrong for me and many men around my age group, to look forward to playing NHL with our kids? My dad would never think of playing a video game with me, let alone know how to use a controller.
If you ask me about today’s pop culture, I wouldn’t have a clue. That being said, have I hit a snag when it comes to NHL gaming trends? I used to waste many afternoons updating my own rosters on the desktop versions of NHL 97, 98, 2000, 2005 and 09. When I moved towards gaming consoles, I had to search the forums to get someone else’s latest rosters. These days with a new family to support, ain’t nobody got time for that. My Xbox has been collecting dust since last April.
Another scathing review of NHL 15:
My regret? Wasting all my time and money playing all these video games into my late thirties. Mind you, I love playing NHL 14 because of the added NHL 94 feature. Takes me back to when I never had to worry about living in the real world. With the disappointing results and critiques of NHL 15 coming to light, maybe it’s time for me to just stop “trending” NHL gaming.
Yes, I admit that I am getting to be an old dog. Have I hit a crossroads in my life where I won’t see Hockey Night in Canada the same way I used to watch it when starting in the late seventies? Will my perspective on the game of hockey change once Sportsnet takes over the NHL broadcast rights for the next twelve years? Will I focus more on teaching my son than watch a full game on TV? Maybe I’m fearing change, but being a new father I will have to adapt. One thing is for sure: I will not buy NHL 15, but instead continue to enjoy the gaming experience of NHL 14 when I can find the time.
My other regret? That I should have kept my NHL 11 game. Not only did it have the best soundtrack ever, it had the best Canucks team ever assembled. At least they won the Stanley Cup, in the digital world.
A former novice/atom player, timekeeper and fan of the game, Peter has lived and breathed hockey throughout his life, covering hockey happenings in Edmonton, Vancouver, and currently in Saskatchewan. He is now a contributing writer for the Hockey Writers.