While EA Sports’ NHL ’11 was the only big hockey video game on the market – at least on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360* – its quality didn’t suffer from that lack of competition. Simply put, the game gave hockey fans just about everything they could ask for … but there were a few things it did lack.
One of those “How did they leave that out?” features was a mode that allows players to simulate the Winter Classic experience. While EA Sports didn’t come right out and say it, the screenshot you see above says it all: NHL ’12 will include the annual outdoor event in some form.
They didn’t reveal many specific details about how the Winter Classic will be utilized in the game itself, though.
For one thing, it’s natural to ask if the game will strive to use authentic Winter Classic locations. Video game Web site Kotaku tackled that subject a bit, explaining that EA probably wouldn’t be able to use baseball ballparks in the game since 2K Sports owns the licensing rights thanks to their MLB series.
That could prohibit NHL ’12 from using Wrigley Park and Fenway Park, the locales for the 2009 and 2010 Winter Classic games. The 2011 game featured the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins took place at Heinz Field, but reports indicate that the 2012 edition will take place at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, so it’ll be interesting to see how that might be handled.
Kotaku also points out some other interesting details revealed from that screenshot, via the Operation Sports comments.
Other details of the frame, per the hawkeyes from Operation Sports: The net can be jarred from its moorings; realistic goalie contact, and goalie helmets flying off. Anyone see anything else?
However those specific stadium/ballpark details are worked out, the ability to re-play Winter Classic games (and perhaps create your own?) should be a nice thrill for hockey fans. Click here for a ridiculously blown up copy of that screenshot from Operation Sports, if you want to pick apart every tantalizing detail (look a the snow!).
Kotaku discussed other rumors, including a rumor that the game’s ship date that would be “closer to NHL opening day.” Normally sports video games are released about a month before a given season begins, but that trend might end with the next Madden game and the NHL series could follow suit. Personally, that later ship date would be bum many people out since those video games are often a nice outlet for fans who miss their sport badly.
Still, if it makes the game just a little bit better, then the wait could be worth it. Kotaku indicates that more details could emerge next week, so we’ll let you know more when extra information drops.
* Other platforms, particularly the Nintendo Wii, had their own different hockey-related titles.