After the NHL 11 demo went live yesterday, expectations were very high for what this demo was going to bring to the table. After winning multiple sports game of the year awards last year and the year before, how could NHL 11 hold up, at least in demo form? Keep reading to find out.
The NHL 11 demo is one of the most in depth sports game demos out there. Prior to this year, most of them would just have two minute quarters or periods. While Madden did give five minute quarters this year, there was still only one game you could play. In NHL you can play game six of the Stanley Cup Finals between Philadelphia and Chicago or you can play the Ultimate Team feature.
First let's start with the Battle for the Cup part between Chicago and Philly. It was a little disappointing that it randomly simulates the score of game six so that I was winning by 5 as Chicago going into the third period. In real life, Patrick Kane scored the Cup winning goal in overtime of game six, so I naturally wanted to duplicate the moment, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Aside from that, the game was excellent. The hitting looks much more realistic this year as every hit looks different based on what and angle you hit someone and how big your guy is. While Chris Pronger was throwing around Kane in my game, Kane stood no chance against Pronger and that's the way it should be. There were a few broken sticks, a few of which were picked up by the players that dropped them which was a nice touch. The game's default speed has also been slowed down following the leads of Madden and NCAA, which have had varying levels of success by implementing this but success nonetheless. This doesn't really affect me just because I used sliders to make the game slower last year so it's nothing new. Skating and passing seem to be impacted more by momentum which is a welcome change. The Stanley Cup video after winning the title also hasn't changed which is disappointing after seeing Obama in Madden. I didn't see any goals reviewed but did hear that it happens on things like high sticks. Many of the changes are subtle but the big ones, hitting and speed, are game changers that are very welcome. The gameplay's looking like it's stepping it up to the next level in NHL 11.
The Ultimate Team mode, the card game brought in from Madden and FIFA, also plays a big role in the demo. The game will assign you random NHL, AHL, Junior League and foreign league players to play with together. It's also surprising that in a demo it'll give you different players every time. I got the likes of Geno Malkin, Kyle Okposo, Drew Doughty, Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall all of whom were fun to play with. The only repeats over time were Okposo and Jonathan Bernier.
You then get to play in a tournament with this team agains the likes of the Windsor Spitfires and Philadelphia Flyers. It was a little weird playing a junior team in the first round and then the Eastern Conference Champs in the second, but EA is free to do what they want. It got me to play against different levels of teams in a shorts amount of time. You only get to play the sped up third period of these games with the score starting at 0-0 but this mode is probably the most expansive ever put in a demo.
The NHL 11 Demo is probably one of the best ones ever put out in terms of a sports game and is really worth your time. NHL hits in early September for PS3 and Xbox 360.