Improvements to NHL 2016 benefits gameplay

NHL 16 is the newest installment in the EA Sports video game based off of the National Hockey League and its teams. NHL 16 allows the player to jump right in and play as their favorite teams and players. Various game modes allow the player to enjoy several different perspectives from Be a GM mode to the ever popular Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT).

Be a GM mode allows the player to take the reins of any one of the 30 different NHL franchises and control everything from trades and free agency, to player scouting and the NHL draft. Player scouting in this mode has had a couple different tweaks that make scouting more interactive than before, when the player simply asked the team’s scout to go to a region for the indicated amount of time, one to six weeks at a time. Now the player can see the different players from each region individually making for a better scouting experience.

HUT is basically a type of fantasy hockey in which the player is given a basic team to start out with and then by winning games, builds a stronger team by collecting coins and purchasing player packs or searching the player auctions for individual players. The player can choose to play a 10 game season either online or against the CPU with various difficulties and restrictions.

There is also the ever so popular Be a Pro mode in which the player creates their own skater or goalie and then plays out their career with the goal of making it into the hockey hall of fame. The biggest downfall of this mode is that the player is forced to play each game within 20 minute periods, making it quite the lengthy adventure, especially if playing as a goalie. When playing as a skater, after each shift the player has the option of simulating until the next shift.

Each of these game modes has their own perks and are a lot of fun to play around with. There is also the option of simply playing a game online or against the CPU or a friend offline. The online shootout mode is also a fun one in which the players skip the first three periods and overtime and play in a five round shootout in which the player even gets to control the goalie, unlike a full game in which the CPU controls the goalie on a shootout attempt. The graphics and flow of the game are very similar if not basically identical to the previous version of the game. Some players look more like their real life counterparts, but there are still some players where it looks like they took very little time to create.

The gameplay of NHL 16 has two distinct differences that players will notice right away from NHL 15. The passing is a lot touchier and direct, but the biggest (and best) difference is the improvement in the goalie play. The AI for goalies has been made a lot more realistic and the final scores for full games is generally lower than in NHL 15. The goal celebrations are unfortunately the same in that regard, but it is what it is.

★★★★☆ – Overall I would give NHL 16 a score of 4/5 pucks.

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