Whenever I play an NHL game, the first things I attempt are:
Smashing an opponent into the glass with a body check
Starting a fight.
Essentially I think of the film ‘Goon’ whenever I play. It wasn’t long before I managed to initiate my first fight in NHL 17. It was even quicker before my Be a Pro player hit the deck and left the rink humiliated for his five-minute penalty.
NHL 17 builds on the excellent title from 2016, refining its gameplay, making lots of improvements to its game modes and ensuring the game is accessible for rookies and pros.
As you begin NHL 17 for the first time it will help you decide on a control scheme and difficulty – you are able to choose between playing the game with the rather cool stick based system, a mixture of stick and buttons or with just two buttons for an ‘NHL ‘94’ experience. For the benefit of this review (and my broken wrist) I went with the mixture of stick and buttons. For me this was the perfect combination, using the stick allows you the flexibility of movement whereas using buttons kept things simple.
Lots of new animations have been added to make players look even more realistic, goal tenders especially, they react much better than ever before making goalmouth battles much more interesting. As you would expect from any EA Sports title, the presentation is superb, from the clean UI to the TV presentation for matches. The commentary is clever and the on-ice action is brilliant.
Be a Pro returns, allowing you to create your own player and work your way up through the ranks to the NHL. You can of course just start in the NHL. What’s great about Be a Pro is the coach feedback. Every game you are graded on your performance, to help you improve you’ll be given tasks to complete on the ice, such as winning face offs, defending, attacking or even body checking an opponent. The on-ice trainer is a big help, adding an overlay on the rink telling you which buttons to press. It isn’t perfect, it doesn’t always explain itself very well, which is more of a hindrance to novice players.
There is much more to do in NHL 17, Franchise mode gets an overhaul from last years Be a GM mode, this year, you’ll build a team from the ground up. Managing the team’s budget by setting ticket prices, upgrading facilities and setting up events to help generate funds for the team. It’s certainly a maide you can lose yourself.
Draft Champions is great to play, giving you the chance to play with best of the best in the world if hockey. Draft your team then play to win rewards to use in Hockey Ultimate Team, another very addictive mode that has had some great improvements. This year’s HUT focuses on the synergy between your team, it essentially improves upon previous year’s chemistry score. A nice feature this year is the ability to trade in unwanted cards as sets, doing so rewards you with premium card packs.
There are plenty of online modes to play with and as ever things run pretty smoothly, games are easy to find and for the most part it’s a lag free experience. There is season mode, playoff mode, as well as on and offline shootouts.
Customisation has had improvements to, being able to build your own arena being the most fun to use. You can change all sorts including scoreboards to pyrotechnics and even inflatable tunnels that teams skate out through.
NHL 17 is an excellent update that does a great job of catering for all skill levels. Graphical improvements and new animations add a new layer of authenticity to the on-ice action and there are plenty of game modes with depth to make sure this is a solid purchase.