NHL 12 Hands-On

By adding even more realistic elements to its hockey franchise, EA Sports looks to give fans of the sport reason to look forward to winter.

Over the past few years, EA Sports has done an excellent job innovating its NHL series, and NHL 12 is expected to be no different. This year, the guys at EA Canada are introducing what they call their "hat trick of gameplay innovations," and we had the chance to see all three aspects in action.

For starters, EA has addressed the problems many fans of the franchise had with how players react on the ice. In the past, skaters would not respond to the action on the ice until a specific event occurred. This time, though, they move around the rink as they would in a real game. On offense, players with teammates in control of the puck will skate to areas to get open, take advantage of scoring opportunities, and, in general, make smarter on-ice decisions. On the defensive side of things, rather than waiting for an attacking skater to make a pass, defense men will anticipate where the puck will be heading and try to intercept the pass and commence a counterattack.

Of course, these types of actions will play out depending on the skill of the player. Faster skaters will be able to intercept passes or get open more effectively than slower ones. To offset this, bigger players will be able to use their size to their advantage, and this shows itself more so in the game's second enhancement: the full contact physics engine.

With this new engine, players react more realistically to collisions on the ice. If two players are skating toward the same unoccupied puck, chances are, depending on their respective sizes, one will win the puck while the other will be sprawled on the ice for a few moments. Stronger players will more likely take out the other guy, but smaller or faster players might be able to avoid a hit altogether. The physics engine has also opened the door to better animations with collisions. No longer do hits look and feel the same; depending on where on the body contact is made, expect a different animation to take place.

The third part of the "hat trick" comes in the way of introducing dynamic goalies. Those familiar with the NHL series will know that goaltenders often didn't feel organic to the rest of the game. Too often a goalie's reactions and movements felt predictable and extremely limited. Now, goaltenders make better decisions and react to their surroundings. ,And when attacked by an opposing player, they will take a hit. Of course, you can't viciously attack the goalie and expect to get away with it, but if you do it correctly, a good scoring chance can be had.

From the brief time we had with the game at the EA Studio Showcase, all three aspects were implemented pretty well and should open the door for hardcore hockey fans to discover new methods of playing the game. Of course, there are still a ton of other features to be showcased for the game, but these improvements should help in delivering a solid, hockey experience fans have been craving. NHL 12 launches this September on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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Marko Djordjevic

Former GameSpot Associate Editor, current Content Manager for EA SPORTS.
NHL 12

NHL 12

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8 comments
hersheylala
hersheylala

I am actually excited for this game.. I dont enjoy EA games because they are too arcadeish most times.. but this looks to be enjoyable.. I may move away from the 2k series for this one.. we'll see! but I argree with abb1971, the AI ALWAYS has a pattern of being able to be fooled in a certain way.. I forget which game but remember in the 90's when you just skated down the ice made a u turn at the circle and cut across the goalie.. Score!

abb1971
abb1971

I don't think that I will be getting this one as I have been disappointed with EA and the NHL game. The graphics look great but the AI for these games are weak. I have played it on both PS2 and the PC. The computer does not do a good job of covering offensive players. There have been times were my defenseman is covering the puck carrier, but the weak AI does think to go near the center breaking down the slot for an easy one timer. I wish EA would fix this rather than including fighting goalies. How often does that happen?

MPplaysGuitar
MPplaysGuitar

interesting. i like that top screenshot of the player dragging a skate at the blue line. hopefully that feature works. hopefully the AI tweaks all together work haha.

XBLHester147
XBLHester147

This is great and all but i'm not buying this game until they have a properly working penatly system. I'm tired of getting aron Rome'd everytime i touch the puck with no call

hkymike
hkymike

I CAN'T WAIT ANY LONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ut40755
ut40755

so instead of fixing things like not being able to do 50% of save moves in goalie mode and glitch shots, every time i crash the net ill get a penalty, and every time i hit someone the glass will break or helmets will go flying like some HITZ game i try not to recall....

bscott216
bscott216

Not looking forward to paying an extra $40 to make your player competitive in online team play. I hate EA sports. Greedy pigs. Same with Tiger 11. Extra $30-$40 if you want all the courses. WTF.

hockeydude29
hockeydude29

Hitting the goalies= easy goal, but penalty= penalty's off. ;)