REVIEW: NHL 13 provides alternative to watching 'real' hockey

For hockey fans around the world, NHL 13 is the only compensation for the agony of the NHL lockout.

And while video game hockey can only do so much in comparison to the real thing, EA Sports’ version is as good as “fake” hockey can get.

The latest version of the widely popular franchise is the best yet. When looking at the home page, one upgrade I particularly liked is the ability to set your favorite team. After doing so, the home page will feature the team’s logo with a scrolling banner in the background that displays players on the team.

The game allows for all the favorite game modes of past years, such as the Be a GM, My Player and the World Tournament.  It should also be noted that while NHL 13 is obviously focused on the NHL, there are seven leagues from around the world (AHL, ELH, DEL, SEL, NLA, QMJHL, OHL, and WHL) that can be played in and pulled from in the various game modes.

From a graphics standpoint, the game is above average.  Player movements are super realistic. It almost feels like you are actually on the ice because every movement a player makes is controlled by the user. The ice spraying up when a player stops quickly is also a nice touch.

You can tell the game designers focused on creating a great atmosphere, because the crowd noise and music in the arenas are much improved from previous years.

The commentary by Gary Thorne and Bill Clement is great, as usual. It brings me back to the glory days of when ESPN broadcasted hockey games two or three times a week. It's unfortunate ESPN doesn’t broadcast hockey games anymore, because it would be great to hear the duo call games in real life.

While very good, the game isn’t perfect.  One drawback is that the only way to do a fantasy draft is to go into the Season mode, and even after doing that you can only play with your created team for one season, which kind of takes away from the point of doing a fantasy draft, which is to “build a team over a number of years.”

Some of the checks in the game are also unrealistic. For example, you might hit someone from the side but the player will fall backwards and roll around on the ice like a fish out of water.

Overall, there are few bad things to be said about NHL 13. The game play is wide open and there is a lot more breakaways than in real hockey, but hey, that’s what makes it fun. For any hockey fan starving for the NHL, this game does an admirable job filling the void left by the NHL lockout.

4.5/5 Stars


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