NHL has finally made its debut on next generation consoles thanks to the release of NHL 2015 on the PS4 and Xbox One.
Like EA's other huge sports titles, NHL 2015 is using the Ignite Engine to up its game and what a huge difference it makes - just look at some of the screens I've captured using the PS4 to see what I'm talking about.
As I've said in the past, I'm not really clued up on the rules of this sport. What I do know though is that a) you need to score more points than the other team and b) it's probably the most exciting sports game to watch on a console - perhaps even more so than FIFA.
There's nothing quite like NHL; can you imagine for instance your players going at it with their fists in FIFA? Not a chance, footballers are far too busy worrying about what their hair looks like these days. That's not the case in NHL though, were any excuse for a fight usually results in one. The fighting in NHL has always been an interesting addition, the push of a button initiates a fight and then you'll use the thumbsticks to try and beat the living daylights out of your opponent. This generally results in one of you lying on the ice and the other boasting to the delight or dismay of the crowd, depending whether they are on your side or not.
It's not all about the fighting of course. NHL 15 is packed with features on next generation consoles, with more promised too. Features include the likes of Be A GM Mode, which has you manage your team and play at the same time if you wish. It's a pretty feature packed area of the game, allowing for trade negotiations and scouting, as well as giving you the ability to check on players injury status, buy new players, change tactics and more.
In addition there is also a Be a Player Mode and for big fans of the game, Ultimate Team, the latter of which is similar to FIFA's Ultimate Team, except with hockey players instead of footballers obviously.
While all of these game modes and the others which will be added later down the line, are lovely, to me NHL 15 is all about what happens on the ice and in this respect it's both one of the best presented and most fun sports games out there. While the presentation in games such as NFL and FIFA is pretty outstanding, to me nothing comes close to NHL 15. The commentary team for instance seem to be spot on every time and really add to the excitement of the experience. The same can be said of the crowd, who dance around, boo/cheer at every decision and get riled up when a fight begins.
From the moment you step into the rink, everything just feels so perfect. The crowd, the commentary and the entire look of the action just combines to provide what has got to be one of the best sports video games out there.
Then there's the hockey itself, which is just a joy to be part of. Playing NHL 15 is flawless thanks to the easy to use control system, which has you skating along the ice, whipping passes back and forth to your teammates and crashing your opponents off the hoarding and onto the ice. Scoring a point isn't always easy thanks to the skills of the goal tenders and the size of the goals, but when you do get a point you'll get great joy from doing so.
There are so many additions to the game this year that it'd be impossible to list them all. I've already listed some just by talking about the crowds, stadium, commentary team and the realistic arenas. But other additions include revamped puck physics, new collision physics and more authentic players, both in terms of how they perform on the ice and the likeness to their real-life counterparts.
Like I say, I don't know a lot about hockey, but when it comes to gaming I know what I like and I love NHL 2015. It's an outstanding sports game which is both fun to play solo, with friends and online. The ice may be cold, but this game is hot.
Words by Joe Anderson.
Twitter: _@wotta | PSN/Xbox LIVE: wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Looks amazing
+ Plays amazing
+ One of the best sports games around
- Lacks some popular modes at launch, although more are being added soon via a patch