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NHL 15 truly has glimpses of being a fantastic sports title on its own merit

NHL 15 gives you a good deal amount of choice when it comes to its controls; Hybrid, Simulation and NHL ‘94. Simulation and ’94 both scared me, with the former being way too complicated, while the latter didn’t feel as intuitive and easy to learn as the hybrid setting. Actions such as pass, shoot, start fight with hybrid controls are mapped to the controller with one-push button commands, making it ideal for those, like me, who aren’t overly familiar with the more technical aspects of ice hockey. Though the more time you spent with NHL 15, the more you’ll begin to come to grips with its controls. Okay so we’ve already gone over what’s missing from NHL 15 on new-gen system, but there’s still enough content here to get you by until what’s missing is patched in. Arguably the one mode where most players will spend their time is Ultimate Team, where you build a dream team of your choosing by playing against either the AI, or other players online (but not your friends), earning currency and purchasing in-game blind packs that unlock new players. You’ll start out shit, probably, but the more time you invest, the better you’ll become.
 
“It’s mostly time and then with development on new platforms you always encounter new hurdles you didn’t plan for (technical hurdles), and it takes more time and resources to kind of overcome those. The team pushed hard until just a few weeks ago when we made the final announcement that OTP wasn’t going to be in there for launch. The reason why we didn’t talk about it before was we were still pushing and trying to get it in for launch. We’re 100 per cent commited to bringing back the EA Sports Hockey League as well and we understand  the importance of the mode and understand our fans love it. We have the foundation now to bring back the EA Sports Hockey league bigger and better than we ever did in the past . The gameplay and presentation now are there,” said Ramjagsingh. In terms of Team Play, Ramjagsingh explained  the feature will make its way to NHL eventually, but  there is no time line for release yet. It is rumoured that the mode will only feature real NHL players and teams and won’t allow players to create their own teams/players like in past NHL games.

Yes, as with any jump from a past generation to a new one, the graphics and presentation have seen a big uptick. The game presentation before the drop of the nhl 15 puck is extremely well done. Upon booting up a game the first time, I thought for a second I was watching a real life NHL game, as the camera showed me around Dallas, Texas and commentators set up the game with meaningful commentary. The arenas looked pretty true to their real life counterparts and fans inside look lively. It looked like a sign of great things to come but sometimes that first look can be deceiving. The NHL franchise has spent many consecutive years stacking new gameplay modes on top of the classic variety of sticks, pucks and goals, but as it makes the leap to the new console generation this year; it’s gone back to the basics.

 
With those two marquee modes left as functional, if tedious husks of their former selves, all that leaves is Ultimate Team and online play. Again, online team play is coming back, but it's not in the retail release. The online GM mode, however, isn't coming back this year, so all you're left with otherwise is basic competitive play, which certainly works, based on the games I played during my testing. I experienced minimal lag and no major connectivity issues, so at least there's that. As for Ultimate Team, it is essentially identical to the way it's been in the last couple of games. Which makes a certain amount of terrible sense, given that Ultimate Team, with its microtransactions for card packs, represent the easiest way for EA to make additional money from the game.
 
And while NHL 15 features rebuilt gameplay, there are still familiar oddities that pop up. Players will occasionally lock into animations that aren't relevant, while others will glitch out, becoming stuck and totally unresponsive for seconds at a time. It's still too easy to accidentally engage a pass to no one because you've hit the switch-player button before your defensive teammate possesses the puck. Player facial mappings are also a mixed bag. Some players look astonishingly like their real-life counterparts, while others are just generic people who look randomly generated. Their behaviors, though, are strikingly realistic. From going down the line of bench players for a glove bump after a goal to looking up at a scoreboard to catch a reply, the post-whistle motion captures in the game are all spot-on.
 
After all my time with the game prior to this review I find myself at a bit of an impasse. NHL 2015 truly has glimpses of being a fantastic sports title on its own merit, given the improvements in the gameplay mechanics, visuals, physics and even sound. That being said, we have been spoiled to a degree by some outstanding previous versions with all the features and now I find that the series has lost a bit of its lustre given what they cut out to get this one out the door. The omission of key modes really hurts the end product, and in a way it feels like we’re stepping back somewhat. Part of me wants you to try this game to see the improvements I speak of, but I know that many will feel the pain of the modes and features they got rid of.
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