gamingsurvival's NHL 11 (Xbox 360) review

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NHL 11 Review

By - Regian

EA’s NHL series has been soaring to new heights the last couple of years. In my opinion, the quality of the NHL series has eclipsed even the quality of the Madden series titles the last few years. The question is, has EA brought yet another stellar hockey title to the table?

NHL 11 brings a few new things to the table this year: First, a brand new physics engine to give those brutal hits that extra “Owww!” factor when you see them happen. Players doing flips, being thrown into the boards, even falling to the ground with such velocity that you would think that you had shot someone with that kind of impact. Boy, is it fun to watch, too!

Secondly, EA decided to bring their “Ultimate Team” mode to NHL 11 with the new EA Ultimate Hockey League. Much like its Madden and FIFA counterparts, you buy and collect trading cards to build your hockey dream team. When you win games, you earn the game’s “Pucks” currency. You use these Pucks to buy additional packs of cards, either consisting of players or consumables, to help strengthen your team. Games can be played locally as exhibition games or in tournaments, or take your team online to see who really knows how to put together the ultimate dream team. If you really enjoyed this mode in FIFA and Madden, you’ll enjoy it just the same here.

Last but not least, by popular demand, EA decided to include broken sticks into gameplay this year. Take a hard enough shot and that piece of lumber is going to split in half on the ice. Either you have to go to the bench to get a new stick, ask for a teammate’s stick, or basically kick the puck with your skates. Of course, feel free to also take your aggressions out on the person who might have broken your stick with your empty hands! That’s always fun. Trust me.

In terms of gameplay, the broken sticks and new physics engine really compliment the new slightly slower pace of the game this year. While I can see that veterans of the series might be disappointed with the slower pace of this year’s title, it does give you that extra second to make a great pass or execute a deke. Overall, the game is still the same great game that hockey fans around the world have fell in love with over the last few years.

However, one thing that received an upgrade is the faceoff mechanics. Now, stick placement and physicality plays a big part in who ends up with the puck each time in the faceoff circle. It’s a much-needed facelift to gameplay and allows players to approach a faceoff opportunity with a few different gameplans.

Besides the aforementioned Ultimate Team Mode being added to NHL 11 this year, everything else is pretty much the same as it was from last year’s title. The minor exception is the game’s “Be A Pro” mode, which now gives you the option to start your trek towards the NHL by participating in the Memorial Cup Tournament.

Online, all of your favorite modes return for some worldwide competition. This also includes EA Sports Hockey League, the massively multiplayer online hockey league where you and five other pals can team up and represent your team in an ongoing season. Some changes have been made, both good and bad, to help optimize your EASHL experience. First, you can search for team games with a certain amount of players. This allows you to find your best match and avoid having to stick someone as a goalie unless completely necessary. Second, the bad part, you can only play one EASHL game at a time. In past years, you could play multiple games so that players can all participate without waiting for the others to finish. That’s gone now, and it’s a bit of a bummer that EA decided to go this route. However, it’s probably all in the interest of fairness to everyone else in the league.

Graphically, there’s been little to no change. However, that’s not to say that the players don’t look good. They look great. Your audio experience is the same as last year, too. However, the soundtrack has a mix of rock and old dance tunes. Really, EA? Black Box on my hockey game soundtrack?

Overall, NHL 11 is once again a package that any hockey fan will be satisfied with. The addition of a handful of Canadian teams and some new gameplay elements make this year’s edition of the game just enough to breathe some new life into the series. It’s a game that hockey fans shouldn’t miss out on.

Pros:

- New physics engine, faceoff mechanics and stick-breaking add a bit more depth to gameplay

- Addition of the Memorial Cup and more Canadian teams

- Addictive Ultimate Team mode added

Cons:

- Other offline modes receive little to no change over NHL 10

- EASHL games have to be played one at a time

RATING: 9.0/10

NHL 11 was reviewed on the Xbox 360 console. A copy of the game was purchased by the reviewer. The game is developed by EA Canada and published by EA Sports. Played a handful of exhibition games, EASHL games, Ultimate Team games and Be A Pro games. Played for roughly eight hours. NHL 11 currently retails for $59.99 and is also available for the Playstation 3 console.

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