NHL 10 PS3 Review

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It’s a $60 roster update for NHL 09.

I could leave my review at that if I wanted to and it wouldn’t be that unfair. However, I am of the opinion that you, the loyal HGW readership, deserve far more from us here. Insight, depth, detailed research and the occasional bit of salty language. These are the things you’ve come to expect from us and I’ll be damned if this is where I start letting you down.

So you’ve guessed from that opening line that NHL 10 is not exactly a dramatic leap forward from last year’s version. In fact, this is both good and bad and, ultimately, the games fatal flaw. Allow me to explain.

I had a sense of dramatic disappointment mere minutes into opening box and slipping the disc into the slot on my PS3. The look of it, the opening animations, the crowd graphics, the stadium animations, are all identical to what we saw in NHL 09. Essentially, in those respects and others, they have completely recycled that game with only very minor changes. Most of it is pixel for pixel identical. The roster change interface, the line editing, the Be A Pro mode, all of it.

Now, not all of those feature needed to be changed. They were aspects of what made the game so good. But to not even throw us a bone with some new pregame shots…? That’s just lazy, folks. Sure, bring back the features that made NHL 09 a pretty solid gameplay experience but you’ve also got to improve because it certainly was not a perfect game (we’ll get to that in a moment).

There are a few new additions, don’t get me wrong, but they’re extremely minor. The first person fighting, for example, is fun but it’s nothing you can’t experience with that generic boxing game for the Wii. There is also (thank god) the return of the much missed Season Mode. Both of those are good things. But again, not mind blowing.

However.

The fatal flaw, and it’s one annoying enough to consider a total betrayal of EA Sports and their NHL game series, of which I have owned every release since 1993, by jumping to the 2K franchise. It all has to do with control. Once again, just like 09, the programmers have made a glaring error in their control design. The default controls, while not overly complex or difficult, simply do not jive with those of us so used to using x’s and o’s to get out business done. Those of us for whom shooting a puck with a directional joystick just seems unnatural.

You folks know who you are. You are my brothers.

So, what do you do if those default controls, which force you to use the fucking R2 button to pass the puck fer chrissakes, just don’t float? You switch to Classic Controls, right? Well, one problem. For the second straight year, those of us using Classic do not have the simple ability to change lines. I say, to change lines. To allow this sort of oversight to exist in two straight years is utterly moronic. And, of course, even though there is a listing in the controller setting that says “Custom”, we all know damn well that there is no way to customize those controls.

So we get screwed. Again.

Sorry, EA, but this sort of thing is just sloppy. And it really does say you just don’t give a shit, that you’ve just made up some new cover art with a new player (bet you didn’t know Patrick Kane would appear on a police blotter before your game box, did you?) and the NHL 10 logo, make a few token updates, and slap that thing on the shelves for the hopeful masses to consume.

Feel shame, EA. Feel shame.

So, to summarize, NHL 10 is not a bad game, in the same sense NHL 09 was not a bad game, it’s just not great because it remains flawed by some annoying, near infuriating glitches that no self respcting game company should ever allow. Not when the customer base for a release is one of the most loyal that has ever existed, like we fans of their NHL series. Now you’ve hurt us.

Question is, will we come back next year?

For the very first time, for me, that is in doubt.

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