Over the last few seasons, EA Sports has continually been innovating its NHL series with each new release. This is no different this year as EA Sports brings in over 300 gameplay refinements concentrating on three key features, Anticipation AI, Full Contact Physics Engine, and Dynamic Goalies. Continue reading below for our full preview of NHL 12.
Yes, you read that right; goalies are now fully dynamic. If you were familiar with previous games in the series, goalies didn’t feel organic to the rest of the game or players for that matter. It was too often that goalie interactions were too strict and limited not too mention predictable, only reacting if a specific event occurred. Now, goaltenders will make better decisions and react to their surroundings in different situations. When a player attacks them for example, they’ll take the hit. Of course don’t expect to get away with it on multiple occasions as you can be sent to the sin bin for a penalty. But if you manage to pull it off, there are certainly scoring chances you can take advantage of.
Moving on, you’ll notice that the next bullet point EA Sports is addressing is Anticipation AI. This refers to player interaction within the game. Players will now react more realistically during offensive and defensive changes throughout each game. This includes everything from players skating to open positions for scoring opportunities, to the small things like a player stretching his leg out to not be caught off sides on the play. Other fun points to mention are helmets are now able to fly off players if they’re hit hard enough, and you can even hit players into breaking glass and over the benches. When the play develops offensively, players will skate into open areas as mentioned earlier and make smarter decisions to anticipate the puck. On the defensive side of things, defenseman will try to anticipate where the puck might go next and try to cut off passing lanes and break off for a counterattack.
Finally we have upgrades to the full contact physics engine allowing more realistic hits and puck movements. Hit animations won’t feel scripted or unoriginal; every hit will react differently depending on the situation. Of course, don’t expect to go unpunished, this is hockey after all and expect some fisticuffs. The first person fighting that was introduced in NHL 10 has returned again this year with a refinement as well. Now as your fighting if you don’t want your player to get injured you can easily raise up the white flag and end the fight. A new addition is now allowing goalies to join in on the fun. If it’s a playoff or an intense game goalies will now be able to fight and take the penalty.
Although, they haven’t shown off much of it, Be A Pro mode has been completely revamped. You’ll play a full season in the CHL, which is the junior league before being called up to the minors. With the new Action Tracker you’ll be able to sim during games to your next shift so you can quickly get into the action. Another neat addition is the NHL Winter Classic in Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. You’ll be able to pick any two teams to match up outdoors on a snowy New Years Day. NHL 12 launches for Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on September 13, be sure to keep an eye out for our full review.