NHL 15 may not be as feature rich as its last generation predecessor. But what it does offer is the most visually striking hockey experience available. The strong core gameplay for which the series has been lauded returns with slight tweaks to the physics. Everything looks great, plays well and feels like the NHL hockey I love. Even the tricky teammate AI can be addressed via settings tweaks. Where NHL 15 disappoints, however, is in the trimmed features and modes. NHL 14's fully featured practice mode is now just a single skater on ice who gets to practice his shootout skills only. And that kind of change just seems silly. I mean, we're talking about practice, man. Practice. Not a game. Practice. Ultimately, I prefer a solid core gameplay experience to a wealth of modes built around dodgy game mechanics. And with EA's announced content update schedule, fans can expect to find more reasons to return to the title in the coming months.
Slight changes to the visuals and overall presentation paired with slightly frustrating teammate AI yield roughly the same experience as FIFA 14. Of the new features, none are significantly impactful on the core gameplay experience. If you are a diehard FIFA fanatic, you will not be disappointed. And if you are new to the series, FIFA 15 is not a bad entry point.
FIFA 16 delivers another deeply satisfying game of soccer replete with beloved franchise staples such as Ultimate Team, Co-op Online Seasons, etc. The core game is largely the same. But key additions in the Women's International Tournament and the new Ultimate Team Draft add depth to a game already full of immersive play options. With the addition of Ultimate Team Draft, EA could honestly put out Ultimate Team as a stand alone release.
NHL 17 is a game that overwhelms you with variety of play as well as feedback aimed at making you a better, happier player. Outside of a collection of new game modes including Draft Champions, Franchise Mode and the World Cup of Hockey, everything here is largely the same. The game still looks great. Still feels great. And most importantly, it still plays great. Little refinements throughout yield small but noticeable improvements on the experience.
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 offers a solid arcade experience. This title does not yield any significant advancements for the genre or the series itself. Instead, it takes elements from other sports titles, scales them down and wraps it all up in a fetching, exaggerated aesthetic.