Cons: Not representive of hockey, 3-12 fights per game, issues left over from NHL 12 and 13, lack of changes from 13
This year introduces a new fighting engine and they sure are eager to show it off. Big hit? Fight. Injury? Fight. Push the star player? Fight. Someone touches the goalie, even if it's incidental? Fight. Have the play stop while you're winding up for your shot and let it go after the play has stopped? Fight. Touch the star player? Fight. Press the Y/Triangle button before a face-off? Fight. According to statistics a fight occurs in hockey 0.48 per game and 66 games out of the 2460 played had more than one fight. 36.67% of all games had fights last season. This game has 100% of games played with a fight and 100% with multiple fights.
The issues that plagued NHL 13 sadly remain. The AI just scores whenever it pleases. It will pick up a loose puck, bounce off every check, avoid every poke check and then score. Especially if you're already ahead because the comeback AI that's been ruining the series since NHL 10 remains too. This is a relic from arcades designed to get more quarters and should be long gone. You already have our money. Speaking of arcade that's exactly the experience you'll be getting. Regardless of settings, even picking the "hardcore simulation" option at the start of the game results in arcade action. There's no off-sides, icings, penalities and goalie coverage is extremely rare. The only penalty you'll see is if you do something. Off-sides are so rare that even when a player is well over the line with both feet it's still not called. While things like this dictate the flow and pace of hockey in real life they're simply non-exsistant here. It's more like a vertical game of Pong than hockey. That's when the goalies are stopping things. Expect scoring percentages as high as 33.3% even with the sliders all the way up and using the best goalies in the league. 5-0 was my lowest scoring game.
Be A Pro mode is back with the added feature of "live the life". You get to answer questions about yourself, city, team, fans and performance. Your answers affecting likability. Sarcastic or humours answers will endear you to fans while upsetting management for example. While it's a great idea it recieves no credit with me due to overly repetitive questions.
There's the NHL '94 mode which is just blue ice, chip tune music and stars under the players names while using the NHL '94 control scheme that was already available in recent games. This does nothing to improve the poor play or constant fights. No, you don't get to bust anyone's head open and have them fall to a bloody pile on the ice like a famous movie scene.
It's worth mentioning for those who do not have internet access with their console that the default rosters are extremely out of date. Ratings are poorly done as the Islanders and Sabres are the only teams with poor ratings. Even Colorado who only won 16 games last year has 4.5, 4.5 and 4 out of 5 in offense, defense and goaltending. The Panthers who were the worst team in the league have a 4 in offense, 4.5 in defense and 3.5 in goaltending.
This poor, arcade Pong style of play combined with the over abundance of fights make for one of the worst sports games to ever exsist. It fails to capture the sport it's supposed to be emulating in any fashion. It's not a hockey game and as much as it tries to be it's not a fighting game either. There's better hockey to be had and better fighting to be had as well.