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NHL 10 review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Fantastic online team play
  • Meaty new fight mode
  • Great tweaks and fixes
  • Might eventually break save files
  • Hockey store will irk some players
  • Stale commentary

Reviewing a sports game that people might spend the best part of a year with isn’t a precise science. Sometimes it takes a long while before a game’s problems become apparent. Take last year’s NHL – while it was the best implementation of hockey we’d seen at the time, the stat-tracking on our save file began creaking to a halt after the first full season of Be a Pro. That’s more than 80 games, at half an hour a pop.

After about 200 games it flipped all our top performers to a rating of -254, permanently botching the career mode. Some of the Achievements were plain broken, and cheap tricks in the online mode forced EA to introduce a patch that awarded punitive penalties every time you so much as looked at – let alone touched – an opposition player.

While long-term frustrations, such as the ones we’ve been waiting all this time to vent, can’t possibly be addressed here, the menus, options and stats in this year’s edition do look scarily similar to last time out. But as soon as we slid back on the ice, we fell head over heels (in love) all over again. NHL 10 is an absolutely storming hockey game – and the various tweaks and fixes they’ve added make it an even more enjoyable simulation of the sport.

Our favourite new feature is the ability to play the puck against the boards. You can sacrifice a player as a human shield, forcing the puck against a wall until you can kick it out with a skate. Defenders can use a similar tactic, squeezing their man up against the side of the rink to halt an attack.

Scrapping is also improved, with a first-person view making brawls more impressive to watch. Alongside the usual player categories you can become a ‘tough guy’, with objectives such as scoring a certain number of hits every game. Strangely, duffing people up isn’t one of the requirements. The referees are pitched somewhere between pre- and post-patch NHL 09. You don’t get penalised for breathing on somebody but you can’t get away with flattening everyone in open ice. Spoilsports.

Some people will have a problem with the new hockey store, which offers stat-boosting items at a price to players who can’t be bothered to earn them through normal play. We say you’re unlikely to notice much difference either way. Also, the commentators repeat a lot of the same phrases from last time out, which sounds a bit cheap(skate).

So while there’s nothing properly revolutionary here, NHL 10 remains not only the biggest and best hockey game but also one of the finest sports games of any type. Hope those bugs don’t rear their ugly heads this time.

Sep 17, 2009

More Info

Release date: Sep 15 2009 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Sep 17 2009 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Sports
Published by: EA SPORTS
Developed by: EA Canada
Franchise: NHL
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Mild Violence
PEGI Rating:
12+

3 comments

  • TheIronMaiden - September 17, 2009 8:15 p.m.

    I love the improvements they made in this one, especially first person fighting, awesome game.
  • Malikin71 - September 19, 2009 5:17 a.m.

    Just Intense
  • bob277v - October 31, 2009 9:20 p.m.

    LOVED NHL 09, but this seems a little tougher to get used to, board play seems harder than it needs to be. Also, in 09, players would get fatigued from game to game, and you were able to schedule practices to re-engergize your team. Editing your lineups was important so you can rest certain players, especially goalies. This game doesn't seem (that I can find) to have that feature, therefore, you could play your star goalie all 82 games and he will play the same, therefore, there's no real need to sit any players as they never need a rest to be on the top of their game.

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