Review: NHL 13 Demo Impressions
Whether or not there will be an NHL lockout this year is yet to be seen, but for the sake of all hockey fans like myself, I really hope not. Either way, NHL 13 is still set for a September 11th release to give fans the hockey entertainment they have been craving since the Kings won the Stanley Cup. The demo has officially hit the Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Store today and after spending at least an hour playing the game, I am here to give you my quick thoughts on NHL 13.
The NHL 13 demo doesn’t offer as much as say the Madden 13 demo which allowed players to play two full games with four different teams. This year is the same as years past minus the new NHL Moments Live feature. You get to play the third period with one of two teams, the New Jersey Devils or the Los Angeles Kings at the Prudential Center. The period lasts about five minutes with the score being completely random as the game just puts you into the third. If the game is tied when the horn goes off, it will end in a tie and not continue in overtimes like in previous demo installments.
The first very noticeable thing about the demo was the new AI. No longer is the computer controlled team dancing around in the neutral zone and debating whether or not it wants to dump the puck. The computer finally plays a straight dump-and-chase style of play and works hard to get the puck or force a turnover in the offensive zone to begin a set up. Even when they’re in the zone, they will shoot the puck around if being pressured to keep the play alive and take shots from the point when open. Then again, due to the trap style of play from New Jersey, the dump-and-chase strategy is the best option as they clutter the neutral zone to not allow any single player to just figure-skate his way in with the puck; speaking of figure-skating, the new true-performance skating feels very solid in the demo.
You push up on the left stick to have the player move straight with the puck and the longer you hold it, the faster they go. While they can still turn with the puck, if they are going at high speeds, they won’t be making sharp turns, but more wider turns which makes the skating more realistic. Pulling the left stick to the opposite direction of where you are skating stops the player and if you hold the direction he stops at, he will make a burst to the opposite direction. Players are also able to glide left and right with the puck when you stop pushing forward allowing players like Elias or Richards to make moves past the defense if they have a lock on them for a hit. My main complaint with the skating involves the ability to press and hold LT to allow players to lock on the goal and skate backwards.
Note: Tim, one of our editors/writers, is the one playing in the video above
Back in NHL 10 and even to now, you were able to skate backwards while holding the same button and moving the shot stick a certain direction. This did cause some cheap goals on the breakaway or even in the shoot-out, at least in years past. To say this is a “new” feature seems odd. Yet in NHL 13, holding the puck with your back behind the opponent’s goaltender in the zone seems weird. Playing the zone does seem better and you’re able to set up plays and pass the puck around, even though LA’s defense was all over the Devils (like it should be). It just didn’t feel 100% right. In certain situations yes, but aware of how people in the EA community are, and I mean the hardcore ones who look for ways to score that are unconventional, I’m a bit worried. Not to mention, you give them the free skate option to play for the next 3 weeks to practice anything they wish and it’s like giving Lt. Hannibal Smith time to make the perfect plan to destroy the Russians.
Aside from the one period of play and the free skate option which allows newcomers to get used to NHL 13, NHL Moments Live makes its debut in the demo. You play as the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup play-offs when they faced off against the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Final. What’s your goal? Score the winning overtime clincher that sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Note: For some odd reason the jerseys on the Phoenix Coyotes are a brighter red then they should be. They’re Red Wings red while the pants are the color the jerseys should be.
The video presentation at the beginning is nice to set the mood of the specific moment but I do feel like a zoom in option on that mini HD TV in the menu would have been nice. Not to mention I would have liked playing the mode on All-Star or Superstar instead of Pro.
It is a nice addition and EA is looking to add more moments throughout the 2012-2013 regular season but if a lockout does happen, it could hurt this mode in the long run.
Presentation is mostly the same. Main difference being there are almost no cut scenes during play. Instead, the camera follows players after the whistle or goal to give it a more “live” feeling (which is nice). The menu layout is very streamlined and blue. I actually like it to an extent. I hope the color changes in the menu according to your favorite team but I don’t think it does from the last videos I saw.
All in all, that is pretty much the NHL 13 demo. You get a pretty small taste at what’s to come next month and get to unlock a few packs of Hockey Ultimate Team when you get your copy of the game. Anything that I had an issue with may not mean much right now as this is just a demo and you can’t really judge the game entirely with what we were given. I think EA Sports played it very safe and while I would have wanted more, it’s better than waiting until September 11th.
If you have any input on the NHL 13 demo feel free to leave your impressions in the comment section below.
Update: Late last night as I was playing the NHL 13 demo again, but on the PS3 this time, and I noticed that Hockey Ultimate Team was playable. Not sure how I missed that originally so my apologies. I’m providing a quick update on my impressions for the mode and well, I like that the way you handle the lines looks somewhat like the way it is on FIFA. I also liked that you had the option to let the computer adjust the lines for you to have the best chemistry. I think for the new players to the series, this is a nice addition if they don’t know too much about hockey or just want to jump in and play. You get to play in a tournament on pro difficulty and you play the last period of each of the three games. If it’s a tie, you go into a five minute overtime period, and if it’s still tied you go into a shoot-out. It’s more time to play which is nice but the one major thing about HUT that worries me is the same issue I had with this mode in last year’s game; the EA Servers. I was already disconnected from the servers twice while playing in the mode and to be honest with you, it’s the main reason I stopped playing this mode last year. We’ll see how they hold up when the game releases but if the demo is any indication, the EA servers are ready to hand losses to players who disconnect, even if they are winning their game.
Update #2: I had mentioned earlier in this article how the backwards skating option may end up being a problem when the game comes out. Well, I spoke a bit too soon as I have already been hit up by a few people letting me know that they did find an exploit with the backwards skating option that allowed them to score a goal 9 times out of 10. If I find a video on how this was done, I’ll upload it here. If not, I will wait until I review the game in September to see if it’s been patched.