Yesterday, I reviewed the core gameplay of EA Sports' NHL 12.
Today, I will spend some time focusing on the EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL for short).
If you're not familiar, the EASHL allows players to build a team of their friends to compete online against other EASHL teams. You design your player, your equipment, your player style, and even your teams uniforms.
Designing your player is simple enough. Pick a face, hair, eyes, etc. Then pick your stick, skates, helmet, and visor.
Once your player is designed, you pick your teams' jersey, logo, colors, and equipment for your goalies. Every color is customizable. I designed my jerseys based on the colors of the Chicago flag. I chose the Montreal Canadiens logo, and adapted the colors properly. I have on complaint about the uniform design system. There are so many colors, but none of them are labeled by name or number. You have to sort of remember which of the 50+ pages your color is on. It makes what should be a quick color match a long search for the same color...over and over again. The WWE games have a number assigned to every color in their system. It would be a very simple fix, and I can't believe EA hasn't fixed it yet.
Aside from that, the design a team is very simple and fun.
Once the EASHL gameplay begins, you're hooked. You control only your player. The default camera constantly trails your player, and can some times swing around erratically, which can be a distraction, but for the most part, you can get it down after a few shifts, and seeing your name on the screen after a goal is very rewarding.
The last few seasons, online cheesers have hurt the EASHL. Players have found glitch goals that work every time, including last years' glitch, where a skater would cut across the slot and shoot a wrist shot top shelf. It worked 75% of the time. This season, that specific goal seems to have been eliminated. The teams we played against tried it no less than 10 times, and none went in the net. Hopefully, another glitch goal is not discovered this season.
Matchmaking was lightning quick, and I experienced absolutely ZERO lag in my games. That's a very good sign, considering pretty much everyone who picked up the game was getting their games in last night.
EASHL is the game mode that will keep you coming back to NHL 12 again and again. If you find a good and commited group of friends to be on your team, it's a great time.
Once again...EA has delivered a terrific overall product. The best sports game keeps getting better and better. If you're a hockey fan, it's a "must buy." It's not simply NHL 11 with a roster update. The changes to the gameplay and features have made the game much better.
FINAL SCORE : 8.7 / 10