The ice season starts again

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Valery Aloyants
@valeryaloyants
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Version tested: PlayStation 3

Also this winter we will be able to spend the icy evenings that await us on the equally cold ice rinks of the top Hockey championship in the world: the American NHL league returns with the 2010 episode by the indefatigable Canadian studios of Electronic Arts. Who better than the "cousins" of the north could create the perfect Ice Hockey simulator? Now in the 2010 edition, just like the other serial videogames of the EA Sports label (FIFA, NBA, NFL), also NHL 10 has reached a point of no return, when the technical and gameplay sectors are now so refined, filed and tested that they no longer need revolutions or major changes. Just like what happened with FIFA, the turning point for the NHL was 2009, with graphics that finally detached the previous versions and an almost perfectly balanced gameplay. This year, with the 2010 edition, the philosophy of the team responsible for NHL 10 is to add options, methods, opportunities, moves. In short, to create that even more lively, varied and complete "outline" that finally makes their creature beautiful, perfect and flawless.



The innovations introduced

Reviews of sports titles, especially serial ones, are never simple because they must always take into account two aspects: talking to newbies to the series, introducing the game in its entirety, and satisfying the desire for novelty, going into the details introduced with the last chapter. Ice hockey is certainly not a very popular sport in Spain, but for the very few who do not yet know what we are talking about, it is enough to know that it is a swarm of beefy men with ice skates, helmets and armor who must try to throw puck, the black disk, inside the opponent's small net. Physical contact is not only allowed, but is part of the gameplay of this sport in all respects. Among the major innovations of the 2010 edition of NHL we find in fact a new approach to physics and physics, factors that determine the very nature of the game. First of all, the possibility of fighting in the field has been re-inserted (certainly an uneducational element, but in fact also present in reality) with an unprecedented subjective view and the possibility of slashing the opponent, holding him by the shirt and throw it on the ground. Obviously at our own risk, because this kind of action always involves a temporary expulsion from the playing field. Honestly this is an extra option, but for the purposes of the game it brings practically nothing, indeed after having done it a couple of times to try the instinct is to never start a fight again, in order not to waste useless time and not be disqualified. The subjective view is a good variant of the 2D horizontal one of the old NHL Midways, in any case the visual experience is satisfying and engaging. The other aspect on which the developers have pressed the accelerator is certainly the game physics: it is now possible to play roughly on the sidelines, crushing the opponent against the outside lanes and making our player's body feel on the one in contrast. . The outcome of the clashes depends a lot on physical structure, heaviness, speed of movement, giving an even more realistic feeling to the game action. The physicality of the players is felt even more in the middle of the field, when we manage to move or land the opponents with shoulders and tackles in speed. Unlike the previous chapters, this time the player's body, and his skates, can influence the trajectory of the puck, changing its direction and intensity if intercepted. The shooting system has been perfected: the puck is launched first by loading the shot with the right analogue, then directing the shot in three-dimensional space thanks to the left one, thus managing to create infinite trajectory possibilities: a decisive factor for a gifted sport of such a small network (moreover defended by armored giants on the score line).



Curiosity

The NBA and NFL Hip Hop leave ample room for punk rock from some of the best star and stripe bands. EA Trax, the "soundtrack" of every Electronic Arts sports game, is now synonymous with quality and quantity. Among the ranks of the NHL 10 OST are Rancid with "The Bravest Kids", Papa Roach with "Into the Light", Nickelback and "Burn It to the Ground", Scorpions in "Rock You Like a Hurricane", Green Day in "Know Your Enemy" and Megadeth and their "Peace Sells". A very high quality soundtrack, even if something more could be done regarding the quantity of songs, just 18.

A question of feeling

The feeling on the pitch, while giving greater physicality to the clashes, is the same as always: the soul of NHL 10 is once again the same as last year. Having reached the famous point of no return, developers can no longer drastically modify (or improve) such a balanced gameplay. What can you do, then, to give a pinch of panache to the 2010 chapter? The idea was to be able to choose your very own personal style of playability, a thought that is neither brilliant nor innovative, of course, but well accepted in a sports title that has now expressed itself to its maximum potential. Here is a menu from which to select (all strictly in English, no Spanish): casual, default, normal and hardcore. In the first case, all aids for aiming, passing, parrying are deactivated. Normal is the standard gameplay preset by programmers, while hardcore leaves the player the burden of performing all actions manually. With default we can indulge ourselves, creating our own custom "style" of gameplay, modifying rules, physics, possible actions, fouls and so on.



A matter of sledgehammer

"Road to the Cup" has also been added to the classic season and the possibility of going directly to the play-offs, which catapults us into a final of the legendary Stanley Cup, fighting with one of the official teams of the league directly in game 7, the one valid for to be able to lift the prestigious trophy. In addition to the classic "Be a Pro", in which we play the role of a player in the league and face the championship only in our shoes, EA Canada has created a new mode called "Be a GM" (General Manager, Editor's note). In this case, you do not play but manage your fanfare by buying, selling, discovering new talents and hiring qualified personnel to follow the team. It is also possible to unlock and earn new items and clothing to enhance our players: clubs, helmets, jerseys and so on. All "played" modes are available in both local and online multiplayer through PSN (or Xbox Live on 360) where the game flows smoothly and without delay.

One of the flaws of the 2009 edition, that of having some bugs on online launches and goals, has been eliminated. The artificial intelligence of the goalkeepers has improved, perhaps too much since they are now able to parry even deadly shots from a few meters away. On a normal level, however, the opposing AI shows some too much freedom especially in the defensive phase, where the players appear too permissive and passive. In the offensive phase they prove to be decidedly more shameless and aggressive, even if they err in an unreal way (every now and then) some sensationally easy passages. The goalkeeper, all too good at saves, suffers from some fairly important defect in defense: he always tends to throw himself to the ground in passages perpendicular to the pitch, as if to save at all costs, and leaves the attackers too much time to steal our puck. due to too slow animation to retrieve the game disc with your hands. The online game, enhanced with a tasty 5 vs 5 entirely human, is embellished with the usual constant updates from EA Sports regarding news, drafts and rankings: practically the game dashboard is always connected to the internet.



PlayStation 3 Trophies

Just like its FIFA10 cousin, too NHL 10 offers 42 trophies for the player, of which 1 platinum, 3 gold, 10 silver and the rest divided between those of bronze and some secrets. A large number of them are unlocked by playing online, or by obtaining particular positive performances. The rest is achieved with specific actions: a certain number of goals, using the NHL94 key configuration, scoring with an injured player, and so on.

The accuracy of the models

The visual component of NHL 10 is one of the most rewarding ever seen in a sports game. It is no coincidence that in the United States this game has won the palm of best sports title several times: the top-level graphics sector is an essential component of the visual simulation. The polygonal models are almost perfect, both in the proportions and in the precision and likelihood with the real counterparts. Palaces and public are equally well done, embellished with animations, lighting effects and presentations that serve as the ideal setting for every meeting. The in-game animations are fluid, well captured and above all very varied. During the cut scenes and sporadically in the most agitated game actions, slowdowns are noticed, now typical of every Electronic Arts sports production. NHL 10, before the next generation of consoles, represents the non-plus-ultra of console hockey simulations.

Comment

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NHL 10, although not perfect in all respects, it represents today the greatest exponent among the hockey simulations. The playability, and this is both a pro and a con, has remained almost unchanged since the 2009 edition, while enjoying some changes such as greater physicality of the players and total freedom in passing and shooting. The opposing AI has some uncertainty at times, and the goalkeepers suffer from a few bugs too that need to be fixed asap. The general package of NHL 10 is one of the most complete ever seen in a sports title: the Stanley Cup final and an excellent General Manager simulation have been added to the classic season, play-off and Be a Pro modes, all seasoned as usual by a top level graphic, sound and online sector. Except for a few too many frame rate drops.

PRO

  • Lots of game modes
  • Enhanced physicality and physics
  • Freely editable gameplay
AGAINST
  • Unexplained frame-rate drops
  • Some problems with the goalkeepers
  • Only if you don't own NHL 09
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