The annual franchise is a tricksy hobbit!
Obscure reference, I’ll grant you. But this is the kind of tizzy NHL 14, the TWENTY THIRD instalment in the series, has left me in.
At one end of the annual spectrum, you’ll find the Assassin’s Creeds and the Call of Duties. These titles handhold, spoonfeed, lecture and condescend Ad nauseam.
“Push the walk button to walk.”
“Look around with the right stick... Good. Now time for the Looking Around mission.”
“Hold the trigger to shoot bullets into people who should really have bullets in them!”
“Push the win button to win.”
In summary, they’re only short of wiping the viscous drool from your slackened jaw with a damp cloth!
At the other end, there is NHL.
I’m not a total amateur when it comes to the Ice Hockeys. I did review an almost identical title not two years ago. I understand the goal is to score goals in the opposing goals. I also realize the secondary objective is to relieve enforcers of their teeth.
Needless to say, I’m on board.
"Punch his whole body off!" Enlarge
However I need some help remembering when and with who to instigate the aforementioned brawls. I cannot recall the appropriate stick slaps and their corresponding opportunities. The penalty for ramming whatever poor sod in possession of the puck into the barricades still eludes me.
Oh, I also can’t remember what a deke is.
Though, from what I gather, it’s just the way Canadians pronounce duck... Ziiiiiiiiing?
NHL 14 has no interest in initiating the uninformed.
NHL 14 is for hardened veterans.
Despite a trio of play styles, buttons or thumbstick or classic NHL 97, there is no real effort made to show you the ropes. Unlike ropes, Ice Hockey must be self explanatory.
Similarly a trio of admirably different play styles take the form of High Impact, Arcade or Full On Simulation. However even at the sillier, full octane end a certain prerequisite knowledge is presumed of the player.
And when developers presume, they make disgruntled buggers out of you and me.
So, those of you approximately fleetingly familiar (or of lower rank) with Ice Hockey Puck Ball will struggle to discern why you can start basic third person fisticuffs with only some Ice Hockos.
I’m pretty sure is what they’re called... right?
And here comes one of those famous Hockos now Enlarge
You might wonder at the benefit of diving onto your front when the opposition can just skate AROUND YOUR PRONE PADDED FORM!
And it remains a mystery why my take-out-the-legs-with-my-stick-whacker tactic incurred the wrath of enforcers sometimes, and indeed referees at others. Often there was no consequence at all. Besides hilarity.
NHL 14 robs an impact engine from FIFA, a scrapping engine from FIGHT NIGHT, and transplants both its Be A Pro and Ultimate Team modes from the wider EA Sports cannon. NHL 14 is fast and fluid. It’s frantic and frenzied and the result of formative, decades long design.
And God help you if you’ve not been keeping pace!