NHL 17 Hands You The Controls At Many Levels

Good all-round game.

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Appreciating the new details of NHL 17 is a challenge. That’s because EA Canada’s already excelled in the previous game’s production values. It takes a keen eye to spot the little details in the hockey series’ latest, but the touches are there. Layering on top of an already superb and vast collection of motion capture animation from last year, the studio has honed in on the overdue improvements of goalie detail. Accurate player facial capture is highly valued, so why not unique goalie stances? Whether it’s Garret Sparks or Jonathan Quick, no two goalies stand similarly in front of their respective goals. Moreover, EA Canada added a whole suite of new saves, drawing the distinction between big blocking saves and quick reactionary ones. And while no goalie would like to get a single puck past them, NHL 17 will also have a new set of post-goal reaction animations from the goalies. It’s part of a larger effort to make the area around the goal more involving, particularly with net battles. It’s about tying up an opposing player near the net. You decide how to handle the opposing player’s stick and whether to be in front or behind the player. You’ll have to use your size and strength to push the other player in front of the net to protect it while the AI counters accordingly.

You can expect even deeper changes off the ice. The new Franchise Mode essentially absorbs Be a GM mode but it’s still the mode where you’re able to build and manage your team. That comes with the challenge of working with an owner while you’re GM. The myriad owners have their own unique personalities and you’ll be tasked with making decisions that the owner might or might not agree with. You have to make a budget, figure out how to make a profit, consider salaries, marketing, promotional nights like bobblehead night, arena upgrades, and concession stand pricing. If things don’t work out, you can start fresh by moving to other cities. It becomes a case of macro and micro managing. The micro aspect greatly complement’s NHL 17’s customization depth. Options are rich out of the box but you can work toward more customization possibilities if you advance through EA Sports Hockey League. As a GM, you can take it granularly, especially with the arenas. That includes seat and wall colors, railings, the design of the jumbotron, special effects, goal songs, and even entrance music.

Lastly, Draft Champions invades NHL. At its simplest, Draft Champions is about taking the best player in a four-person round in a series of 10 to 12 rounds. It would help knowing what kind of team you’d like to build going into the draft, whether you want to be well rounded, an offensive team or a defensive team, and if you want a stacked first line or a stacked second line. It’s also a betting game. You might want to pass on a high rated goalie in one round in favor of a great center, but you might you only have mediocre goalies to choose from during the later rounds.

NHL 17 is due out this September.

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