Top Critic Average
The next generation jump for NHL 15 is far from a mind blowing one. It brings about fantastic visuals and more of the same excellent gameplay we have come to expect. Unfortunately, it really is just more of the same but with an impressive visual bump. Of course, the improved presentation is nice as well but it lacks that oomph needed to wow consumers. That being said, EA Canada has done enough to create a very recommendable hockey game, but they may have some trouble on their hands if they continue to provide more of the same next year.
Its a graphical showcase, fueled by plenty of solid gameplay tweaks to an already amazing game and makes us wonder where the series can go once everything extra makes its way to the current generation via the announced updates. Even with that, it's still a bit of a letdown in terms of extra content, it's far from a disappointment and is best judged by those who play for the love of the series and sport and not those obsessed with extra bells and whistles.
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.
NHL 2015 truly has glimpses of being a fantastic sports title on its own merit, given the improvements in the gameplay mechanics, visuals, physics and even sound. That being said, we have been spoiled to a degree by some outstanding previous versions with all the features and now I find that the series has lost a bit of its lustre given what they cut out to get this one out the door. The omission of key modes really hurts the end product, and in a way it feels like we're stepping back somewhat.
The choice to rebuild from square one on a new engine has resulted in a game that doesn't necessarily stand up to last year's on paper, but shows promise when taking into account the track record of EA Sports NHL. In the game of hockey, sometimes you have to make the counter-intuitive decision to take a big penalty to prevent a season-ending goal.
It boils down to this: if you like hockey, you will probably like NHL 15. It definitely has enough gameplay options to keep a hardcore hockey fan busy for months. If you aren't a hockey fan, it's a toss-up whether or not you would like NHL 15, just like any other sports game. But I will say that NHL 15 shows a lot of movement in the right direction on the new platforms and is a strong basis to make even better games for years to come.
On the ice, NHL 15 is great. Gameplay is smooth and fun to play, and the plethora of customization options means everyone should be able to find an enjoyable setting. The visuals and commentary round out the package that is only let down by the occasionally questionable AI. Where NHL 15 falls down is with its replayability and game modes. Not only are fan favorite modes missing, but the ones we do get are not feature complete. If you can deal with only having a few modes, then NHL 15 is well worth buying, but the lack of variation is sure to become an issue over time.
The gameplay and presentation of NHL 15 are arguably the best we've seen in the franchise. The new commentary team of Emrick, Olczyk, and Ferraro really add to the in-game experience. Some AI bugs do exist and may frustrate players, but the true problem with this game is the lack of modes to justify the $60 price tag. It's unfair to call this game a beta, but with so many modes missing, even though some will be patched in, it doesn't feel like a completed product. The hardcore NHL fans will pick this up, but casual players may want to wait it out and see if EA can patch in some of the features that this game desperately needs.
Since EA has no competition as far as NHL games go, if you want a next-gen hockey title and you don't want to wait for next year, then you're going to end up buying this one. It's not a bad game as it is, and the promised additional features will be nice. There's plenty of replay value and deep modes to explore, if you're so inclined. The basic difficulty is challenging enough to keep you challenged for a long time, and the harder setting can be positively brutal.
The new physics system, presentation elements, and graphics are definitely a step forward for the franchise, but the wholesale removal or scaling back of so many modes leaves you wondering how such a great series could struggle so mightily with the console transition.
Even with everything missing NHL 15 is still a great playing game. The on-ice action is still hard to top, and if EA does patch in all the missing features, this could end up being the best in the series in years. Sadly, as it stands right now there is too much missing to make it feel like a complete package.
If you're expecting a completely stacked, feature-laden game as you've gotten in the past, you're bound to be disappointed and on the phone with EA's customer service department, wondering where the majority of your game content has gone. However, if you're an avid hockey fan, you probably won't mind hitting the ice and taking part in a well-rounded contest of hockey, and seeing what the new visuals and audio have to deliver.
NHL 15 is a missed opportunity and a bit of a mess overall. It feels unfinished, and is lacking fan favourite modes, making it hard to recommend to anyone but the diehards.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing with the Red Wings or getting drafted in my Be A Player mode, but I could not help but be be disappointed with the lack of depth that I have come to expect from an EA Sports title. I love that more updates are planned, but a full-priced game should not be incomplete in the first place. Taken from within a vacuum, NHL 15 is a perfectly solid hockey title, however longtime fans of the series are bound to be disappointed by the things that they have grown used to over the years that are missing.
In the end, NHL 15 feels like the skeleton of a better hockey game. Even with the missteps, the core game mechanics are solid and provide players with some fun hockey experiences. Those who don't care much for anything beyond this will be pleased with what's on tap. For those looking for the more involved modes the series has traditionally offered, they are either missing or watered down to the point that they feel like inaugural attempts rather than classic modes that have been tweaked for the better. The game will be patched to address some of these issues, but as far as what's on the disc or initial digital download, it seems like a step backward. With the groundwork already laid out, the hope is that NHL 16 will be a more complete hockey package. For the time being, NHL 15 just isn't what fans are looking for.
Compared to previous efforts, NHL 15 falls incredibly short on new-gen platforms. Missing a swathe of modes, you can't help but feel that the franchise's debut on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is something of a puck up. Disappointing.
I have always enjoyed EA's NHL games, and what there is of NHL '15 works. But, it's not what's there that's the issue, it's what's missing. And, for what's missing EA Sports needs to spend a lot of time in the penalty box.
NHL 15 is right to focus on improvements to the gameplay and the presentation, but they aren't nearly good enough to justify the cuts made elsewhere. It dazzles out of the box, but it doesn't take long for the upgrades to feel shallow in comparison to what's missing. Ultimately, NHL 15 feels like a major misstep for a franchise that doesn't necessarily have a lot of room for error.
NHL 15 proves how little EA Sports respects the intelligence of gamers, charging full retail price for a game that can't compare to last years offering. Even if this is the only hockey game for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it is not worth your time or money.
NHL 15 may be a step forward in terms of gameplay and presentation, but it's a step back in nearly every other way. New players and those dedicated to the franchise will probably find something to like here, but everyone else will be left with a huge sense of missed opportunity.
NHL 15 plays a great – if somewhat atmosphere-free – game of hockey, but the sheer amount of modes missing from the package as a whole mean that unless you become obsessed with Ultimate Team or enjoy playing severely limited career modes, there's very little to actually do.
Considering that EA Sports took an extra year to craft NHL 15, the wealth of missing features here is inexcusable. The solid, exhilarating gameplay is still present, and feels better than it has in a couple of years, but the astounding absence of features and game modes overshadows everything that the game does right. . . . Put simply, this is not a complete game.
As someone who plays every NHL yearly release all year long, it is unfortunate to see just how badly this has gone. I can somewhat understand taking out 6v6 online play if it wasn't ready, but taking out features in Be a GM or making Be a Pro completely unplayable is just ridiculous. If you are not a hockey fan at all but you want to slap around a few pucks, this might be the game for you. However, with all the lost features and left out modes, NHL fans might want to wait until everything is patched in to jump on this ship. EA Sports: it's in the game… eventually.