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Author Topic: NHL 16, 17, 18, 19... The ultimately broken game series. (Review)  (Read 1077 times)
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« on: June 11, 2017, 04:08:27 AM »

If you thought Call of Duty was bad for smacking the same game-package out every year and calling it new, then you might want to take a look at EA Sport's NHL franchise, which has been infamously referred to as "Broken" by multiple folks I know in person. Now, I'm not going to make this a biased, personal-opinion filled rant with a lack of supporting statements. So I'm going to cap on JUST A FEW subjects to get the review across.

The Review:

This is largely one of the most notable streaks of broken games I can imagine. At least when Nintendo pushes out another Mario game, it isn't broken beyond the point where you cannot enjoy it. This is just BAD ALL TOGETHER. Now, I've played hockey for 12 years, and as a goaltender for a good 7 of that. I've seen weird goals, and weird(er) saves. But the NHL games took the cake on that note in an endless tirade of sloppy mechanics and completely impossible incidents that could be EASILY fixed with some minor tweaks (But EA doesn't give a flying hoo-hah about the player's happiness) SO, I'll get down to the nitty gritty.

What EA did right:

I'll give credit where it's due, there ARE some notable changes from game-to-game comparisons, although not all of them I agree with. They still maintained a large choice of teams from multiple leagues, correctly modeled equipment to choose from, and visual tweaks and improvements on the venues players compete in. My favorite change, 100%, was the inclusion of Live-TV clips, along with the NBCSN labels and sportscasters. This really gave the game an authentic feel, because the intro almost perfectly mimicked the dialect of a REAL BROADCAST.

Another good point was the active updates on team rosters that reflected the NHL's rosters. Although I admit, playing as Zatkoff when Quick was injured (Los Angeles Kings goaltenders) got tiresome, as JQ was out for a good amount of time. Nonetheless, the feel was aimed towards authenticity.

The gear selection is pretty wholesome in NHL17, as I was able to (almost) perfectly replicate the Vaughn V6 2200 set I currently own, which almost made me feel as if I truly modeled myself into the game. Along with player customization options, these features still remain well kept.

The graphics interface has been touched up pretty well in '17, along with the menu selections and ease-of-options. Game customization sliders also added a nice touch for those who wanted to make serious tweaks to their offline gameplay. (However, they SHOULDN'T have gotten rid of the EASHL practice sessions.)


...And now for my favorite part.

What EA did wrong:

Where do I begin? Let's start where it hits home for me. Goaltending Mechanics.

Movement:

The current goaltending mechanics do show versatility with the ability to toggle your posture, play style, and whether or not you do small movements vs. large strides. However, this does not compensate for the fact that the motion mechanics for a goaltender are buggy, and VERY irresponsive. I know a thing or two about reacting to a sharp angle shot, or a fast wrister from the high slot ; EA takes all that right out the window. There is such an atrocious delay from the player's input to the joystick, I could almost physically time it with a watch. The only way to track a one-timer, or a breakaway, is to literally predict where the player is going to shoot from, and to move there before they do, which still does not even save your skin on certain occasions.

How could it be fixed?:
Perhaps they should take the route that some FPS games have gone, and allow for the player to modify their input sensitivity by percentage, as well as adjusting for deadzones and other input thresholds that may be relevant.

Saving:

Saving in the EA games can either be impossibly fast, or entirely too slow. I've watch goalies rob a 90mph slapper from 10ft away with perfect accuracy, and flop on a softie from the blue line. Granted, there are always going to be good saves and sloppy mistakes in hockey, but that adage is drastically exaggerated with EA's engine. Not to mention the consistent glitching a goalie endures when faced with high offensive pressure, I can't tell you how much that happens exactly.

A HUGE no-no EA did was disabling push-off movements when your goalie made an automatic save (Instead, he's just sit still while you crank the joystick left or right. He'd have to stand up fully to reset your movement). That hugely hindered 2nd-efforts on rebound saves, and made the goalie a lot more porous than he should be.

Another no-no was making the goaltender rotate to face the puck, regardless of his position in the crease. This is just asking for terrible Gretzky-angled goals to go in on a positioned goalie, despite all the dice being in place for the save.

A very annoying feature the game possesses is the retention of velocity when saving while moving. If I'm scooting to the left to adjust to a shooter, and he sends a right-side shot, my goaltender will just butterfly and slide to the left completely out of position, rather than stop in place and make a save. I can't tell you how much this hinders movement, because you have to constantly start and stop moving in small little adjustments to keep from sliding out of position. This shouldn't even be a game mechanic issue, it's common sense for goalies not to slide out of position like that.

How could it be fixed?:
Perhaps they could allow for a more intricate control system for goaltenders, rather than relying on pure computer-input to do all the thinking. (Ex. L2/R2 or LT/RT will control which legpad you bring down to the ice first, joystick will direct where you push-off to, etc.)

Playstyle Mechanics:
This is where I think EA hit the crackpipe the hardest. So they gave you the option to choose between being a stand-up, Hybrid, or Butterfly goaltender. Now, according to EA, a Standup goaltender has a higher athleticism rating than a butterfly goaltender. I'll just let that one sink in.
If you've ever seen Rask, Lundqvist, Quick, Bishop, etc. make an amazing desperation save, you'd clearly see that their attribute ratings for each playstyle are drastically wrong. Of course, they were just slewn in an attempt to equalize the playing field.

How could it be fixed?:
How about they make the playstyle based off of the goaltending posture you select? (i.e if I'm crouched and loaded to spring like Quick, then I'll play similar to him. If I'm more upright and technique oriented like Carey Price, I'll play like him. EA can waste gamespace on making idiotic goal celebrations, but not actual game mechanics? Neato.)

Now let's head on to the Player mechanics:

Stickhandling:

Pokecheck. Pokecheck. Pokecheck. That is all I ever see in offensive clusters, and that's all that there ever will be. Pokechecking needs to have a much less drastic success rate than what EA enforced it to be, since simple stickhandling maneuvers and positioning can easily defeat a pokecheck under normal circumstances.

Another point I'd like to make on stickhandling is that the player can make a shot from virtually ANY angle. And I mean any. Up, down, left, right, diagonal, etc. Any angle. This need serious fixing, as even a goaltender who knows basic hockey principle would be caught off guard by a slapshot going left off of a stick blade that's facing towards center ice.

Also, for a breakaway a player's ability to move the puck is significantly greater than that of a goaltender's ability to adjust to saving it. This may sound silly, but the player is clearly a fighter jet racing a bicycle when it comes to breakaways. There is WAY too much freedom to change movement and direction flawlessly for players, and this makes the skillgap all the more narrow, as this allows a knuckle-head d-man to fool an otherwise seasoned goaltender.

How could it be fixed?:
Wholly speaking, minor tweaks aren't going to fix this one. This is broken. Needs a complete Re-do.

Passing mechanics:
Boy, I sure wish I could pass through a crowd of 4 guys and land it perfectly on the stick of my team mate. Well, that's not how it works. The passing accuracy for NHL has been hit and miss, with everything down to passing it to an opposing player unwillingly, to making no-look-backhanded cross-ice passes with ultimate precision.

How could
it be fixed?:
EA should try adding an accuracy-to-distance ratio, that factors in the player's line of sight and its distance to the target to determine its overall accuracy. At least that would level out the passing game when players try to cherry-pick behind the defense.

CONCLUSION

Although the EA Sports NHL series is widely popular among hockey enthusiasts, it is ultimately a BROKEN GAME. There is just too much wrong with it to consider it enjoyable. Unfortunately, it's the dominant (and only) true NHL game on the market, so if you want any hockey action for your console, you're going to have to subject yourself to playing these games. Now this rant may seem like me complaining (And I'll admit, some of it is), but this is purely the received impression that I wanted to pass along to the GA community.

All EA has done, is tweak the menu layout, change a few numbers in their game engine, and call it a new game every year. Quite frankly, it's disappointing to see how money corrupts quality gaming experiences. Maybe if EA lost a large % of their playerbase and profit, they'd really put effort into fixing their games for once.

So for those who actually survived reading the whole article, what do you think? Do you agree, disagree, or have anything else to say about EA's quality? Let me know in the comments. Thanks.

-dethklokrulez12
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 12:39:46 PM »

Nice job.  Kiss
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I am the author of Isaac the Runner.
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2018, 04:52:00 AM »

Your post Can help me very well bro.
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