NHL 11 Review

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The NHL series is back with a brand-new mode called Hockey Ultimate Team. Find out if that makes this year’s edition worth it in our NHL 11 Review!

Release Date September 7, 2010
Genre Sports
Platforms PS3/Xbox 360
Developer EA Canada
Price $59.99 US
ESRB Rating Everyone 10+
Players 1-12 Players

 

Today I’ll be reviewing ‘NHL 11’ on the PS3. This game series is one I have played since ‘NHL 94’ on PC. I have played each iteration in the series up to this point and I have no doubt in my mind that this has been the best in the series and for some very good reasons.

NHL 11 Review
Ultimate Team brings a brand new fantasy game mode to the NHL series.

Returning to the series are the staples that have been with the game for years now. These include: Be a GM Mode, Be a Pro Mode, and Battle for the Cup Mode. There is one new mode in the game however, and this mode is quite a game-changer. The mode is called ‘Hockey Ultimate Team’ which was taken from the FIFA soccer video game series and you will be glad it did. ‘Ultimate Team ‘combines all aspects of controlling a hockey team through the use of trading cards; each team gets a ‘Starter Pack’ to get them going consisting of lower level players and ‘consumables’. ‘Consumables’ are used to give your increase your player’s attributes or contract length since every player has a set contract length and career length. Once the ‘career length’ runs out, your player can no longer play games.  There are other cards to acquire like head coach cards, arena cards, jersey cards, and logo cards to customize your team the way you would like it to be. Packs can be purchased through the EA Pucks you get from winning games and tournaments or by using real world money. You can also trade with other players in the mode to get the player you want using an Ebay style auction format. Overall this mode is a definite plus for the series.

While Be a Pro, and Battle for the Cup remained largely the same from the prior year’s game, Be a GM had a few minor tweaks that majorly improved how a team is managed. ‘Restricted Free Agency’ makes its debut after an eternity of waiting and really recreates the feel of actually being in charge on an NHL team. Qualifying offers, offer sheets, and little things like six full years of draft picks and five trade slots give the game a lot more trade and signing scenarios than ever before. The CHL is in the game for the first time which gives everyone access to players from the junior leagues in Canada.

NHL 11 Review
The CHL made it in the game for the first time.

The gameplay for NHL 11 changed a great deal from the previous year with the introduction of a physics system, replacing the former animation system. This feature makes each play dynamic with no two hits being exactly the same making the game much more interesting. Passing is much more fluid with the player being able to control the speed of the puck instead of it being released the second the button is pressed. Broken sticks were the other huge addition to the game and can create some intense moments. Breakaways can be had if a player’s stick breaks on clearings, live sticks that have been dropped or shattered can create havoc in front of the net for the goaltender as the puck deflects off it, and defenders can trip on a stick lying at their feet. Players can return to the bench for a stick or be handed one by a teammate. Disallowed goals made it in this year and while they are accurate most of the time, I have experienced the odd goal allowed that should have been called back and the opposite. The last major feature the received an overhaul was the faceoff sequence, which now involves a lot more strategy. There are dekes, tie-ups, shots, and sticks can be lifted right off the draw.

NHL 11 Review
Broken sticks make the gameplay more dynamic than ever.

The music is better than ever in NHL 11 with the effects way up, great commentary, and a diverse soundtrack by many well-known artists such as Airbourne and Danko Jones. Every crash and goal come in loud and you really are immersed in the NHL atmosphere. The graphics are just as good as ever, although one problem I’ve had is the inability of the development team to add real faces to the actual NHL players which takes away the realism.

Despite the shortcomings of the disallowed goals, not being able to play a full season in the newly-added CHL, and no noticeable improvement to the Be a Pro mode, NHL 11 is still the best NHL game produced to date. I would recommend this game to any hockey fan out there!

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