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The core NHL 15 gameplay can definitely be enjoyable despite of its flaws

"Whenever I talk to [Detroit coach] Mike Babcock or other people in hockey it's always, 'Let's just get it right,' " Holland said. "Well, sometimes when there is gray, your idea of right and my idea of right might be different. I'd like to get the perspective of people that are sitting in the room watching games night after night after night and watching many gray plays that could go in one direction or go in the other direction. Is there a comfort level that if we do go to video review that it's not going to lead to more controversy?" There is also concern about taking too much away from the on-ice officials.
 
The General Manager Mode is underdeveloped, as well, missing the ability to draft players manually. The computer will decide for you who to draft every season, making things like scouting or planning your sports franchise's future completely moot. (Another thing EA has promised will be re-added.) Fighting contains all the same flaws as last year's game, too, as danglers and snipers are still being challenged to scraps during stoppages in play. If you press Y to accept these lopsided duels, five-foot playmakers like Martin St. Louis can somehow win battles against six-foot bruisers like Brian Boyle, simply by mashing the right thumbstick rapidly. Many attributes, including “fighting skill,” don't seem to matter in NHL 15, as you can deke through the entire AI defense and pop a goalie's water bottle with John Scott just as easily as you can with John Tavares.

 
Again, the on-ice portion of NHL 15 isn't really the issue. It's still the solid game of hockey it's been for a while, though it's arguably more the same solid game of hockey than it's been in a while. Meaningful advancements in gameplay just aren't there this year. The AI is strong, especially if you bump up the difficulty--you'll see teams react to repeated tactics and change up their play accordingly--and the feel of the game remains highly enjoyable, provided you're playing against a good competitor. And really, that's vital this year, because there aren't a lot of other ways to play NHL 15. Some serious bugs also plague the on-ice experience. During my time with the game, one backhand that sailed over the net was counted as a goal, a referee blew a shootout dead while I was in mid-shot, and I witnessed a puck gravitate through the net to a defender's stick (so much for realistic puck physics).
 
That’s really a shame, because EA Canada is right on the cusp of reinvigorating the series for the new consoles. As we’ve already mentioned, playing NHL 15 is a dream. If all you’re looking for is some basic virtual hockey, there’s very little to be disappointed with here. And that's why it's such a shame that you don't have more reasons to want to get on that ice. There's just not enough game here with which to fall in love, unless you're content to play online games. 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.
 
In addition to the wonky defenders, my computer controlled goaltending often seemed suspect. Regardless of the netminder, the difficulty level or my commitment to sound defense, my goalie seemed more susceptible to give up goals than his counterpart on the other end of the ice. If I was fortunate enough to have built a solid lead, I would often witness the computer pull the ‘Miracle on Manchester’ (Google it, folks) and overcome deficits of 3 or more goals in the 3rd period. As with my defenders, I was able to make some slight adjustments to the goalie AI that limited the number of last second, multi-goal miracle comebacks. To conclude this beast of a review, I’ll say this: NHL 15 is a fun but frustrating, glitchy and lacking game. Its core gameplay can definitely be enjoyable, but it’s plagued by so many things, both in-game and in real-life, that it’s hard to fully recommend. In the end, this is one that’s only for the diehards, who can’t go a year without a new hockey game and don’t want to return to last-gen. Newcomers will be better off waiting a year, in the hope that EA will get its act together and release a full-featured NHL 16.
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