NHL 15 Review: Come on EA

I love hockey, it is my favorite sport by far and Electronic Arts is the only company that brings it to gaming consoles. In the Sports division of Electronic Arts, you know “EA Sports it’s in the game”, the NHL franchise is definitely the smallest of the major titles Electronic Arts releases. Compared to FIFA, Madden, MLB, and NBA, NHL is the smallest market, and figures have reflected that. NHL 12 was hugely successful, as it posted 1.22 million copies across 2 platforms, NHL 13 posted similar numbers, NHL 14 only sold approximately 890,000 copies across 2 platforms. (All numbers according to VGChartz)

NHL 15 has sold about 590,000 copies across 4 platforms. I expected EA and the NHL development team to put at least more of an effort than what they actually put into NHL 15, the first NHL game released on next gen consoles. This is a sad excuse for a hockey simulation. I definitely don’t expect the same quality of game as they put into FIFA 15, which has sold about 10 million copies to date. That aside, I do expect for them to put at least more of an effort than what they put into NHL 15.

Jet SuperfanNHL 15 has 3 major game modes:

Be a GM mode, which takes you into the seat of a general manager of whichever hockey club you want, there you can make trades, sign free agents, and put together the best team you can under the salary cap, while you try to win the ultimate prize in hockey, The Stanley Cup. This mode has been stripped down, it’s slow, clunky and it’s menus are hard to navigate, player progression sometimes makes no sense, a player can be 24, have 92 points in 82 games and still drop in overall the next year. There was no entry draft when this game was released it was all done via computer simulation. So if you had the first overall draft pick for 2015, and wanted to draft Connor McDavid, you would have to depend on the computer thinking the same thing. I’ve had instances where my computer would draft some random goaltender from Sweden that would reach only 83 overall. This made a lot of NHL fans mad and forced Electronic Arts to patch this into the game as well. GM mode needs a lot of TLC, they stripped it down for this year to I hope make it fantastic and more like FIFA’s Be A Manager Mode.

Hockey Ultimate Team or HUT, EA’s favorite gamemode. This is a mode where you play games to earn money, and then use that money to buy players cards, or packs which is a bunch of items you can use in the game. For example a name like Brian Little who is an 85 overall playmaker for Winnipeg Jets goes for 700 coins, and Sidney Crosby, Arguably the best hockey player in the world, goes for 1 million coins. This is EA’s money maker, I have heard stories of people spending thousands of dollars on packs(which range from .49 cents to $19.99) just to get Crosby or Ovechkin. Naturally EA puts the most time and effort into HUT, and it does its job well. HUT works, its fluent, a little slow, but Hockey Ultimate Team and its buying/trading/selling auction house is addictive and its very satisfying buying a player for cheap and selling him to triple your profit.

Be a Pro Mode, which puts you in the shoes of an NHLer from the very beginnings. Starting either in the CHL, the Entry Draft or on whichever team you choose. As you play your career there are challenges set by your coach depending on your play style (Grinder, Sniper, Power Forward, etc), your overall, and previous stats. This mode has so much potential but is such a letdown. It’s bare bones, when you play a game you cannot simulate to your next shift (fixed this with a patch, a common theme with this game), so you’re sitting there for 20 minute periods, just to play maybe 6 minutes of game depending on which line you are on, it could even be less. Coach feedback was also patched into the game. Be a Pro mode is such a letdown, in NHL 14 it was actually kind of fun, and had a lot of potential to be great. They really went back 2 steps here, and it’s disappointing to say the least.

The other modes in NHL 15 are very minor and not very noteworthy, such as NHL moments live where you have to complete a moment that actually happened in the real NHL in the game, or you have to change history that happened in the past. There is Verses mode that was also patched in the game, which you and 4 other people take control of individual players on a team and play against 5 other players, this game mode is a sad excuse for an “online” game mode.

SubbanA positive note is the actual presentation of NHL 15 is superb, the graphics are a huge upgrade and the physics of the game more or less are accurate with what would happen in an actual game. If a puck goes off a stick, instead of the puck going through the stick like it did in previous games, it actually gets deflected. Graphically, NHL 15 is stunning, the massive amount of crowd models means that no two people will look the same, the jerseys looks fantastic and flutters and flows as a player skates up the ice. Player models look almost exactly like their counterparts, Crosby looks like Crosby, Malkin looks like Malkin, even Andrew Ladd, looks like Andrew Ladd. The NHL 15 development team did a great job on graphics.

NHL 15, presentation wise it’s amazing, a huge upgrade from the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 game and rightfully so but, Gameplay wise, NHL 15 is a huge letdown. Electronic Arts had 2 years to develop NHL 15 for next generation consoles, and it seems like they only focused on presentation, stripped the entire game, put in the bare bones of content, including their money maker Hockey Ultimate Team, and released an unfinished product just to make their deadline and maybe a profit. EA and the NHL development team have a huge amount of work to do, there is no other developer currently making an NHL game, they have the entire NHL gaming market monopolized, yet they can’t produce? Shameful EA, Shameful. NHL 15 is a huge letdown and comes with a heavy heart that I have to give this game a lowly 4/10, marks are only gained because playing the game once you get the menus sorted is actually somewhat fun, and the graphics are beautiful. Electronic Arts, this is coming from all of your NHL series fans, please make NHL 16 a great hockey game. If NHL 15 was just a hockey simulation, if EA didn’t have the rights to use anything to do with the National Hockey League. You wouldn’t have business. The motto of NHL 15 “EA sports, it’s not in the game”.



Good Things

  • Graphically Beautiful
  • Huge Crowd Models
  • Has Massive Potential

Bad Things

  • Stripped Game
  • All Presentation, No Gameplay
  • Confusing Menu System
  • Slow and Clunky
  • Rushed Product
  • Badly Programmed A.I.
  • Sad Use Of The NHL License
  • Very Few Game Modes
  • Had To Patch The Game Multiple Times
  • No Create/Edit A Player Or Team
  • A Cash Grab