NHL ’11 scores an easy goal

Jon Stevanovich, Staff Reporter

EA Sports unleashed another franchise classic, NHL 11 , on September 7.  There has been much anticipation to adding on to what is already a great sports game. Last year’s edition, NHL 10 had new features like board play, be a GM mode, and a new fighting engine. NHL 11 brings plenty of additions to be entertained throughout the whole hockey season.

Game play has been greatly improved including new stick handling, broken sticks, a new face-off system, and my new favorite, a physics-based hitting engine. Also, a new mode to play, EA Ultimate Team is a new mode introduced this year. This adds a much more realistic feel to the game.

When NHL brought in the one-on-one stick handling aspect three seasons ago, it was a hit. Again, for another consecutive season, they add on with establishing the dekeing system better than ever. The game runs much smoother when making a deke and will actually put you past a defensive player if you pull it off right. Many dekes are new too, including through the legs, off the skate, and others even I have yet to discover.

A player can break a stick by shooting the puck or taking a shot directly to the stick and the shattered stick will fall to the ice as your player skates around without a stick until he reaches over the bench for a new one. The broken stick also interferes with the game and the puck will be affects by a broken stick on the ice if hit.

Face-offs in NHL 10 were all too simple. Now, you can tie up the opposing center, push him out of the way, or win the face-off in other ways. This adds some strategy to face-offs which are important to coming out with the puck first.

A new mode the new Ultimate Team game mode is loads of fun, taking away some of the more boring parts from be a GM mode and season mode. With this mode, you start off with a pack of random semi-pro and professional players. This is much like a trading card game with all your players giving their own player card in which you can switch them in or out of lineups and roles on the team. This brings in the importance of team chemistry and matching together the right players on the right lines to have each line play to their full potential. Also, you can play games in your season to earn more points to buy more packs that give you more players to enhance your roster. A supplement is having bonus cards to boost a player’s performance, extend player contracts, etc.  This mode is a lot of fun and will not get bored for a long time.

We cannot forget the new hitting engine brought in. with this addition, all hits are unique in their own way. Updates like this add a whole new way of enjoying the game through bone-crushing hits that are always a joy to see on the highlights and to save on your system for watching it again. Hip checking has also been brought in to use at your disposal and when you put a guy down hard enough, he will lose his stick and be a bit disoriented, taking a bit more time than usual to get back up on his skates.  But, with all this new hitting, the penalties are always right behind the dirty deeds. Penalties can be more severe, some resulting in a game misconduct which ejects the player from the game and giving the opposing team a gruesome five-minute power play. So lay your hits down hard, but wisely.

Overall, NHL 11 is a fantastic game. The graphics are always up to pay, the new broken sticks system, great face-off mini game, and the hitting engine are more than enough reason to invest in this game.  Plus the Ultimate Team mode will be great to mess around with. I give this game, 4 out of 5.