Introduced in NHL 07, the Skill Stick is a revolutionary system that EA has built upon in this years release of NHL. The original Skill Stick from the previous years was only useful against goalies, usually of breakaways, penalty shot
s, or shootout situations. This year the Skill Stick gets a much needed upgrade, nearly adding triple the moves on top of NHL 08. The all new features allows players to deke all of the players on the ice, using a variety of moves from the windmill to the famous Datsyuk move. For example, now one-handed dekes are available for use.
To balance the new Skill Stick features introduces the Defensive Skill Stick, this allows defencemen to sweep the puck either manually or automatically to knock the puck loose from the offensive skaters possession. Players can also stick lift to prevent some key passes that can lead to goals against, this doesn't come without consequences though, a poorly places stick lift or excessive use can lead to either a high-sticking or slashing penalty. The Defensive Skill Stick is the developers response to the all too frequent hitting and unrealistic play as the result of poor defensive strategies. The hit system still uses the skill stick but is more realistic compared to previous editions.
To promote a mix-up of offensive strategies and realistic play, players can also flip the puck in the air for the first time in any NHL game; however, a poorly aimed attempt to flip the puck out of the defensive zone can result in a delay of game penalty if the puck happens to make its way into the stand.
A new fighting engine has been introduced, switching from confusing stick controls to a few simple buttons. This makes fighting much shorter and easier for most of the new gamers. Winning a fight can cause a momentum boost for your team, or drain the home crowd's morale if you are the visiting team. Many fans of the franchise are still hoping for a proper fighting system in the near future. The new checking system now allows players to check their opponents by flicking the analog stick at which direction their opponent is facing. The new checking engine adds for a more realistic gaming experience with checking not being as dominant as previous NHL games.
Be a Pro Mode
One of the most anticipated new features of NHL 09 is the brand new 'Be a Pro Mode' which allows gamers to create a hockey player from scratch or take over an existing players career. After creating the player, the user can choose a hockey team to join and will immediately be placed on the third line or become the starting goalie of the corresponding AHL franchise. At the end of each game played, the player is graded in several different categories on their performance, the better a person plays the faster they will rise to the ranks and become either the starting goalie or be placed on the first line of the NHL team, players can also be demoted if performance is slipping, much like in the real NHL.
EA Sports Hockey League - EASHL
NHL 09 brings gaming online to the next level, any group of people can join up with their custom Be a Pro players and create a team online to compete against thousands of other players. This online mode supports 6 on 6 play and each team can hold a maximum of 50 players.
The EASHL is split into several divisions, with the best teams in the world competing in Division 1, and progressively downward from there. The teams are ranked by their wins and the goal of the EASHL is to win the EASHL Cup at the end o f the season. Teams can also earn different trophies, similar to Xbox 360's achievements and the Playstation 3's trophy system.
NHL '94 Controls
Compensating for the new control scheme which has an above average learning curve, EA Sports has decided to import the controls from NHL 94. These controls take place over the skill stick and more complicated features and give players more use of the face buttons such as 'A' and 'B' on the Xbox 360 and 'X' and 'O' on the Playstation 3. Although these controls are much easier for a beginner, they are handicapped in the form that they are unable to perform any of the skill stick moves and are unable to stick lift or flip the puck.
European Elite Leagues
EA Sports expanded on the foreign leagues this year by adding the Swedish Elitserien, Russian Super League, Czech Extraliga, German DEL, and Finnish SM-Ligia to NHL 09.
For the 2008-09 NHL season teams began to showcase their new RBK Edge third jerseys. The last team to unveil their alternate jersey was the Boston Bruins on November 24th, 2008. The alternate jersey code was released to the public on December 9th, 2008 and has since been added automatically to anybody who has downloaded a roster update since then.
- The alternate jersy code is xe6377uyrwm48frf.
Custom Sounds in Game
For 360 exclusively EA sports added a feature to add your own pregame song, and goal song for each team. This did cause a little bit of controversy since it could of been added to the PS3 as well either at launch or through patch. Didn't cause a whole lot of anger however. It is likely that NHL '10 will feature the custom soundtrack on both systems.
The demo for NHL 09 was released on the Playstation Network on August 28th, 2008 and shortly after on September 3rd, 2008 on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The demo featured tutorials for shooting, deking, and the new defensive stick. One of the two available game modes is a simple exhibition game where a player can decide to play in the third period as either the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Detroit Red Wings. The second playable mode is the Be a Pro mode, where players can take over as Sidney Crosby or Henrik Zetterberg.
Menu and In-Game
- Runnin' Wild - Airbourne
- Grace - Apocalyptica
- Afterlife - Avenged Sevenfold
- Turn Your Back - Billy Talent ft. Anti-Flag
- Warriors of Time - Black Tide
- Hearts Burst Into Fire - Bullet for My Valentine
- The Running Free - Coheed and Cambria
- Two as One - From First To Last
- Execution Song - Johnossi
- Done is Done - Millencolin
- Nine in the Afternoon - Panic at the Disco
- Do the Panic - Phantom Planet
- The Dissentience - Protest The Hero
- Gilt Complex - Sons and Daughters
- The Shake - The Elms
- Cheap and Cheerful - The Kills
- Krickets - Augest Frost
- Mask - Augest Frost
- Necessary Dissection - Augest Frost
- Strange Grace - Augest Frost
- Don't Walk Away - TV Heart Attack
- Hypnotic Eyes - TV Heart Attack
- Jane Doe - TV Heart Attack
- I Love L.A. - Young Dre The Truth
Gary Thorne and Bill Clement provide the commentary for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions of the game. Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson are the voices of the game on the Playstation 2 and PC.
- North America - Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames.
- Sweden - Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators.
- Russia - Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Captals.
- Czech Republic & Slovakia - Patrick Elias of the New Jersey Devils.
- Switzerland - Mark Streit of the New York Islanders.
Xbox 360 Game Installation
NHL '09 requires 5.7GB of space to install on an Xbox 360 HDD.
The PC and PlayStation 2 versions developed by HB Studios were largely unchanged aside from a few small features including:
- Be a Pro Mode
- New look to the menus/presentation
- New 2-Button control system
- New tutorials