NHL 15 brings a whole lot of great things to the table for the modern hockey fan. The gameplay on the ice is borderline revelatory and the packaging of the whole thing is gorgeous. Hockey has never looked or felt so good.
Super Gamer Dude
When you hit the ice to play some hockey you want things to feel smooth. You want to be able to feel the ice glide beneath your skates as you dribble the puck toward the opposing teams net. You want to feel the sweat drip down your forehead as your try to beat out the rapidly approaching defenders. You want to hear the crowd cheer as your slapshot hits home. That's what NHL 15 does for gamers that decide to pick up the controller. The latest installment of the NHL franchise is as good as it has ever been. The puck glides between your stick as you carve the ice in search of a crease to push the pace and hit that go ahead shot. The game feels like the most competitive night of NHL competition. How does the rest of the game fare?
Any serious sport simulation will live and die based on how the action controls once the game clock has started. If the game doesn't flow right, if the shooting feels clunky, if checking doesn't really work then forget about it, the game is trash. Fortunately this is where NHL 15 really takes its time to shine. The controls feel like an extension of our arms in the game and you can make beautiful moves with the barest press of a button. Passing is an elaborately beautiful thing, if you are good at it, and it is pure chaos if you are poor at it. There is no moment in sports gaming more exhilarating than that frantic dash up the ice as you try to beat the last defender in order to take your shot on goal. My palms can get sweaty just thinking about it.
Upon booting up NHL 15 and actually getting into a game you will be presented with the classically beautiful view of an arena ready to rock out to some great hockey. The crowds look great, the players look awesome on the ice, and the logos for the teams are authentic. Upon entering competition you will get a pre-game set of commentary from Doc Emrick and the man himself, Eddie Olcyzk. Once you are in the game and experiencing the ebb and flow of competitive hockey the commentary will blend into a background of enjoyable, comforting, commentary. Don't worry about the announcers getting stale or annoying as it seems that the NHL crew went all out in recording their lines. You'll go quite awhile before you start hearing repetitions. The final cap on the presentation graduation is the fact that the crowd actually feels like a crowd. You'll hear cheering and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at all the right times.
While the classic game modes are all there for long term fans of the hockey franchise, there are a noticeable lack of features missing. Playoff Mode has gone the way of the dinosaur to be followed by the Hockey Ultimate Team and Online Team Play modes. While these are tertiary gameplay options at best, their absence is a head scratcher. Why nix something that so many people enjoy if you aren't going to replace it with anything better? The absence of these modes has lead many fans to believe that the game was shipped half finished but that will come down to personal preference. The other issue with the game modes made available is that there is no traditional 'season mode'. Seriously! It's strange that NHL 15 would hatchet this feature, due to how common and popular it is, but it's gone. In order to actually enjoy a season of gameplay you have to start a GM Mode campaign. It's a little bit of a bother to go through this extra step to play a mode that should have always been available, but that's the nature of the beast and you can play or let it go.
NHL 15 brings a whole lot of great things to the table for the modern hockey fan. The gameplay on the ice is borderline revelatory and the packaging of the whole thing is gorgeous. Hockey has never looked or felt so good. There are some noticeable absences in terms of game modes and that may turn many people off. If you are here for hockey, though, you will still find a lot to love in this game.