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NHL 11 Demo Impressions

Written by Paul Stuart | Thursday, 19 August 2010 17:09

 

Thanks to the magic of multiple PS3’s, I was able to download at molasses speed the North American demo of NHL 11.  As in previous demos of the title, NHL allows a 7th game, full period of play between last years Stanley Cup rivals Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers. (No, you’re not crazy; the actual finals didn’t extend that far.) The demo simulates the first two period scores, meaning the 3rd could be decisive or garbage time. Oh, the power of randomization.

 

Accompanying the demo is the new Ultimate Team mode, similar to offerings in previous iterations of the FIFA franchise. It’s a player card based model to team building and management, popular among some, ignored among others. Still, always nice to have some additions.

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On to the actual game itself. First thing to become evident was the tangible update in an already stellar graphics engine, as player models (in-game and intermission) are noticeably sharper. Game play mechanics are also noticeably tweaked, with movement much less fluid than in 10. A devil’s advocate will call this more realistic, as lightning fast turns and acceleration is no more. I found this adjustment, however, in need of a sliders tweak and/or tuner set adjustment.

 

Along these same lines, the game’s physics engine is vastly improved, with passing more realistic, also checking. The new faceoff engine took a little getting used to, but resembled more of the jostling inherent in actual play. The goalies likewise moved more like goalies (versus padded supermen), to include more realistic puck deflection/handling and angling toward incoming shooters. The last time I scored a ‘normal’ breakaway goal akin to the one in the demo was in NHL 94. (Yes, it’s been that long.) The much bally-hooed, more accurate juke moves didn’t seem all that different than its predecessors. You can’t win ‘em all, friends.

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I’ll leave final judgment for finished product. At first glance, however, NHL 11 appears a must-buy title once more. Coming your way on 16 September.