It’s time to slip on those ice skating boots, because you’re in for a ride on EA’s latest update of the NHL, and what an update it is.
Let me start with telling you this is the best Ice Hockey Game I’ve ever played. I’ve played previous versions of the game going right back to the early Sega Mega Drive days, and trust me this game is on point. Over the years, EA’s sports titles have really come on in terms of gameplay, fun & presentation. NHL 18 sets the bar just that little bit higher, and that’s coming from an avid FIFA and NBA fan.
EA has introduced authentic 3 on 3 action in overtime to the EA Sports Hockey League, and you can now also choose to play full matches 3 on 3 too, opening up the ice for you and your mates to have even more fun. More space also enables you to get creative, by pulling off big plays and showcasing some brand-new skill moves.
NHL 18 is packed with new offensive deke moves that really deliver the creative freedom and control that fans of the game have been screaming out for, enabling you to pull off some of today’s NHL stars iconic action. The mechanics have improved, helping to string deke combinations together into fluid angles based on movement to movement decisions and reaction time. Defending had improved thanks to a new defensive skill stick, giving the player full control to target poke checks, extend your stick against an attacker to disrupt plays, and even sweep your ice hockey stick back and forth to cover a zone defensively.
NHL 18 is packed with options to make this easily the best ice hockey game there has been, the options really make a massive difference on the game and how to get the most from it. Depending on your ability you can set the game to be more arcade like, or if you prefer more of a challenge then you can make the game more of a simulation. The game will give you recommendations depending on how well you handle yourself, if you want it to. The home screen is cleverly designed by you the player, helping you pin the game modes that you are most likely to visit, thus creating an excellent dashboard to kick start your ice hockey experience.
The training camp mode offers you an insight into learning the game, from basic moves, to advance skill moves. The training videos are handy too, helping you to learn some of the games important rules. Hands up, who knew the offside rule, and what Icing was? Nope I didn’t either…
Graphically the game is superb, player likeness is wonderfully captured as you would expect in any EA sports title. Presentation as always is on point you really feel like you could be sitting on the couch as the game builds the excitement for the important match. Commentators are full of wit, knowledge & advice, announcement noises, and end of period antics just like you would find if you were at the game.
On the ice, the game plays fluently, capturing the fun end to end action. Of course, things can get quite heated at times, I mean, who doesn’t love the gloves being thrown down in preparation for a fight? The controls, especially the full stick controls mechanic, is a joy to play with and makes for some interest checks, slams, and of course plays. There’s an excellent pass and shot indicator, giving you a real sense of where you want to pass the puck or for aiming your shot into the back of the net.
If you pause during the match you are treated coaching snippets, showing where you are going right on the ice, and where you need to improve, with a nice grading and advice system. It does a great job of keeping things simple to help players with less knowledge understand how to improve. There’s a wealth of online options, enabling you to get competitive with others and really test your new-found hockey skills.
Be a Pro mode has had some fantastic updates including being able to request to have your pro traded to other teams. You can include specific trade criteria in your terms, like being traded to a division rival or a major cup contending team. Franchise Mode lets you participate in the NHL expansion draft and be the first to play as the Vegas Golden Knights or reshape the entire NHL by creating and drafting an all new 32nd NHL team to the roster. Ultimate has introduced challenges, similar to FIFA 18 to give you even more options whilst creating your team of superstars.
NHL Threes is the standout new addition, a fun, tongue and cheek style take on the main game. It’s vibrant, fluid and a had a bonkers announcer. Starting as the fridge raiders, you build your team unlocking heroes, mascots, arenas, jerseys and logos by challenging teams from all over the globe. Be prepared for some exciting matches, as the scoring system, changes throughout the game. One minute the next goal scored is worth 3, while the next goal gives you the ability to take two off your opponent’s goal count. Three’s is certainly an enjoyable experience for anyone.
NHL 18 is simply a breath of fresh air when it comes to Ice Hockey, the new additions add so much to an already fantastic game, but NHL Threes adds that something else, try putting the controller down once you get the hang of it.