NHL 13 Could Be EA Sports' Best Installment Yet

By Randy Holt

It gets to a point with sports games, particularly with those in the EA Sports family, where the question of what they could possibly to do to change it is asked. But with NHL 13, that doesn’t appear to be an issue.

EA Sports released their demo of the game last week, with the typical one period between the last two clubs to meet in the Stanley Cup Finals. The main feature of the demo features the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils, but it’s the gameplay itself that has fans itching for a crack at the real game on September 11th.

The gameplay is incredibly improved. EA has made impressive strides in making their gameplay realistic, after not really changing things up in the past couple of installments.

The skating engine has been completely overhauled. Speed is a factor now, with power skating available and player movement while skating affects how fast you’re able to move. But the league’s faster players will actually look it, meaning John Scott wouldn’t be able to keep up with Carl Hagelin, like in previous seasons.

There are plenty of other tweaks to the gameplay. Poke checking is more effective, both ways, and the puck isn’t glued to your stick like in years past. The A.I. is also much improved, building off of the small improvements that EA Sports had made to that in NHL 12. As a whole, from the actual play, to the replays, watching players skate around between whistles or after scoring a goal, there has been big improvement.

There are plenty of other features within the game that are improved as well. There are more legends to add to last year’s crop, including the first two women players in the game’s history, Hayley Wickenheiser and Angela Ruggiero, among other names that include Dominik Hasek.

We haven’t gotten a look at the new “GM Connected” mode, given that this was just the demo, but that will also add a new high to the franchise. The “franchise”-type mode now allows 30 users to run 30 teams in an online dynasty mode. Trades within offline franchise mode have also been made to be more realistic, so no more lopsided trades in order to get the player you covet.

Any way you slice it, this year’s model looks much improved from years past. The demo showed there are still things to work on in the gameplay, but it’s still very exciting to get the best NHL game we’ve seen yet released within the next couple of weeks.


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