- Publisher: EA Sports
- Developer: EA Sports
- ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
- Genre: Sports
- Pros: Improved On-Ice Physics, Enhanced Presentation, Remarkable Depth of Gameplay
- Cons: Arguable Overkill For Those Looking For Quick Play
It’s all about hockey. As with most EA Sports games, “NHL 13” offers fans a wide variety of ways to play their favorite game. The first option in any sports game will be “Play Now,” allowing players to grab a stick and hit the ice against the CPU, online, or against an actual friend with another controller in the same room. But a quick game between your favorite teams is merely the beginning. “GM Connected” offers depth from an administrative level and can be customized down to salary cap and every imaginable rule of the game. You can really create your own league online or offline. “Playoff Mode,” “Tournament Mode,” “Be a Pro,” “NHL Moments Live” – there’s more than one way to experience hockey and “NHL 13” presents them all.
The menus of “NHL 13” have been altered to allow “Team-First Presentation.” What that means is that you pick your favorite team and they’ll be the one to come up first in whatever mode you choose and even be your background on menu screens. From that set-up, the player can choose from dozens of teams (not just the NHL but everyone who picks up a hockey stick around the world, including international organizations) to take in any number of gameplay modes, most of which have been tweaked with notable improvements and enhancements since “NHL 12.”
The majority of said enhancements center around something EA calls “EA Sports Hockey I.Q.” It’s a new A.I. system that allows for much more realistic on-ice gameplay from all players. In other words, it’s no longer just about who you’re controlling at any given moment. Your teammates will run offensive and defensive strategies that you can program or pick on the fly and respond more believably than they ever have before in a hockey game. The improved A.I. on both sides of the rink makes for a more intense and enjoyable experience.
Once again, the level of customization in “NHL 13” is stunning. Not only can you adjust every element of gameplay through numerous menu screens but you can watch replays from numerous angles, input your own coaching strategies into your franchise, or just build your own All-Star through the “Be a Pro” system. There’s not a single area of “NHL 13” in which I felt like, “Oh, I wish I could do X or Y.” It was more that I couldn’t believe the number of options I was given than I was ever seeking one that wasn’t presented.
But it’s all about how it plays on the ice. There’s fluidity to the movement here that’s never been present in a hockey game before. The way a player crashes into the boards or tries to make a quick turn to the net instead of going around it – you’ve never seen hockey realism like this before in a video game. I played for hours looking for glitches in the gameplay – movements that felt wrong or animations that seemed repetitive or awkward – and I just became more and more impressed with the way “NHL 13” plays from minute to exciting minute.