I hate to bum everyone out, but here’s a sobering thought: there are only four-to-seven NHL games left in the 2011-12 campaign. Along with the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and free agency, hockey fans will probably turn to EA Sports’ NHL 12 for their hockey fix, which might make people clamor for NHL 13 in turn. While Electronic Arts polls fans to determine the cover star, Operation Sports shares some screen shots taken from this early preview video.
Perhaps I’m not very observant, but I’ve found the skating in the games to be pretty fantastic, so it wasn’t immediately clear what precisely the difference is (despite how undeniably cool all of that looked). Game Informer sheds a little more light on the changes that are in store for the next iteration of the popular (and unopposed) hockey video games series, which includes these bits. (Also added: some quips from your nerdy, game-playing author.)
1. Previous NHL entries featured speed differentiation between players, but the developer is the first to admit the skaters lacked explosiveness. For NHL 13, EA Canada has completely reworked the skating engine, which its marketing team is dubbing True Performance Skating. This year speedy wingers like Marian Gaborik have the ability to fly by defenders.
That’s bad news for digital Hal Gill.
4. To build the new skating system, EA Canada has added over 1,000 new animations. Players will dig their skates hard into the ice when making abrupt changes in direction, and it takes them a second to gather their momentum when quickly stopping and skating in the opposite direction. You will also see skaters subtly dodge defenders who mis-time their checks.
OK, now that sounds promising.
7. EA has tweaked goaltender performance to open up the five hole for more scoring opportunities.
8. For the first time in the series, goalies now have individual limb control, which introduces more save possibilities and could also result in more deflection goals off their arms and legs.
EA Sports needs to call it Total Limb Control, unless that’s a real plan for a scary future in which we’re all flailing in some sickening virtual reality goaltending simulator. (If that ever happens, I’ll totally take a swig of a drink after allowing a goal, just like a real netminder.)
Anyway, Game Informer’s preview includes plenty of other early details on the much-anticipated next installment in the long-running series.