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NHL 16 features some of the most impressive crowds to ever grace a sports title

Puck physics in NHL 16 are definitely way better but i still have some issue with the way the puck seems glued to your players stick during certain skating animations. The True Performance Skating engine also just doesn’t feel up to snuff anymore. While it was a nice improvement when they introduced it a couple of years ago, it doesn’t compare to the physics based locomotion/foot planting engines that are in other sports games such as FIFA and Madden. It just doesn’t look realistic in many cases. Slap shots are weirdly hard now, unless you take a snap shot you are likely to lose the puck when trying to go for a longer slap shot, the puck friction seems a little too high in this case.
 
It’s worth noting that with the content patches coming, EA is also soliciting feedback through Facebook and Twitter for future updates so let them know what you want in the game and it just might happen. Where things start to break down however is with the faces on the player models. They’re a bit of a mixed bag in terms of actually resembling their real-life counterparts and while they look great in canned shots of the bench and such, the lack of a good lighting model tends to make them look somewhat bland while on the ice. The relative heights of the players is also an issue as they all tend to be pretty much the same size, at least as far as I could tell.

 
Other times the opposing goalie seems to be playing on my team... doing little-to-nothing to prevent goals by positioning himself in a way that gives me plenty of angle to aim at. Little problems like this have, historically, made their way into the vast majority of sports games over the years, but their frequency seems to have raised from NHL 15 to 16. Last year NHL 15 didn’t come to the next-gen consoles, so expectations were understandably high with a two year incubation period for an annual release. So it was shocking to see this edition ship with so many features missing that were present in the past. Among the missing;
 
What’s neat, but somewhat jarring, is the fact that both Mike Emrick and Eddie Olczyk appear in the game as themselves. They’re not digitized or mo-capped, or anything. Instead, they preview the oncoming action like they would in the real world, albeit with a computer-generated arena backdrop. It’s a cool feature that adds to the experience, and the same is true of the footage that precedes them. What you can expect there are aerial shots of the home team’s arena, and a scripted bit of dialogue about the city itself. The transition of the NHL videogame series to PlayStation 4 and XBox One last year wasn’t the smoothest. EA Sports released NHL 15 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 only, allowing them extra time to gear up for launch on the next generation consoles. It was a disaster.
 
The final part of the visual coup detat comes in the form of arenas. NHL venues have been individually recreated to make a home game feel more genuine than ever before. Playing at TD Garden or Gila River Arena actually feel like different experiences, which is great for devoted fans. What’s filling the arena is equally impressive. NHL 16 features some of the most impressive crowds to ever grace a sports title. Fans are physically varied from each other and wear an impressive amount of varying team apparel. They’ll even hold up signs at the right times. Instead of the entire venue rooting for the home team which is unfortunately unrealistic, sections and scatterings of visiting team devotees have been added. More than fans, vendors, ushers, security, cameramen and more can be seen in the background during games.
 
NHL 16 is a tough game to size up. I truly do believe that gameplay is king, and it's there that NHL 16 shines brightly. It plays extremely well, whether online or offline, proving why EA Sports' long-running series has been the king of the ice for over 20 years. But there needs to be a reason to keep playing, and it's there that NHL 15 falls short and feels somewhat vacant. The jump to new-gen hardware has left behind a host of missing features and options that we had last year, and that's simply not acceptable. A barebones Practice Mode, no Season Mode, gutted GM Mode and Be A Pro Mode, no Winter Classic, and missing online features are just as easy to count as what's still there, and that's troubling. NHL 16 is a blast to play, but it doesn’t have the staying power I expect.
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