Over time, hockey video games have given their fans a seemingly endless stream of exciting, fast-paced, and action-packed games. Today, hockey games have evolved with incredibly realistic graphics and modern features such as multiplayer and achievements. EA Sports even helped fans by simulating parts of the season to give fans a realistic experience.
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There are too many variables to agree on the best hockey video games, but the debate is worth it. In terms of fun, playability, and gaming experience, these are the top hockey video games of all time.
NHL 10 is considered the best game in the EA NHL series and one of the best hockey games. NHL 10 comes with a host of new game features and game modes, including all-new first-person combat engine, board battle gameplay, the ability to control players after blowing the whistle, booing players for being agitators, and Battle for the Cup mode.
Some important features of NHL 10 included all-new Be-A-GM mode, improved AI (especially for the goaltender), accurate passing, scoring from all areas on the ice and after the whistle action. The physics engine has been completely redesigned, making the gameplay very realistic.
This game was the first next-generation game to be released on an advanced game console, which set the bar high. Unfortunately for the creators of 2K, this game marked their peak in producing hockey games because they fell into a steady decline with games released after 2K7. The presentation and graphics of this game were the best of any sports game at the time. Also, the AI was realistic as players tried to grab or try to break free in a hurry, and it was just an enjoyable game.
NHL 11 has many gameplay features that current EA NHL players have known for years. What users probably use the most is the ability to charge passing power by holding the right trigger. In previous years, the puck would eject as soon as you pulled the right trigger. This was changed in NHL 11 and remained the most commonly used control in modern NHL games, except for the left stick for skating, of course. From tossing the puck to stick jumping over players while tossing the puck up, many moves that can still be done in today’s NHL games were first introduced in NHL 11.
However, NHL 11’s most significant improvement over previous years’ NHL games was the physics-based game engine, which replaced the old animation-based system. The new engine allowed for more natural play and rebounds and simulated real-world interactions more accurately and realistically than in previous years.
NHL 14 was the last NHL game released before the release of PlayStation 4 and Xbox featuring a whole host of gameplay improvements. The Enforcer Engine introduced the third-person camera, replacing the first-person split-screen camera since it was introduced in NHL 10. Before the Enforcer Engine, whoever pressed the right stick faster usually won the fight. In addition, new post-battle celebrations were introduced such as raising a fist in the air, raising both hands in the air, whipping up a crowd, or wiping your hands like you just took out the trash.
NHL 20 introduces the next significant addition to RPM Tech: Signature Shots. NHL stars now look and feel more realistic as they pull off their signature shots from the real world. In addition, over 45 new contextual shot animations add more believability to goal attacks as players use new techniques to get the puck into the net.
What’s more, HUT Rivals is a new online mode that allows you to compete against rivals of your level online and earn rewards. In addition to advancing through divisions and rewards, this mode also lets you earn the right to play in HUT Champions matches, the pinnacle of Hockey Ultimate Team development.
The gameplay in NHL 21 is more intelligent, faster, and brighter. Innovative moves and massive improvements on both sides of the puck give players more control and allow them to impose their style of play on opponents. NHL 21 fundamentally changes the game in the neutral zone with the addition of slips, rebounds, and icing. The AI has been optimized so that your teammates can now break through on their own and pass you on the move, so you don’t interrupt your run to the net. In addition, they are better at positioning and are more open to passes in the offensive zone. On the other side of the puck, the defensive AI will try to act in a way that slows down the opposing team in the center of the court and blocks passing trajectories while protecting the net. The new Pro mode gives you the chance to live the life of an NHL player on and off the ice.
Important game statistics and other indicators are projected onto the surface of the game world due to the implemented augmented reality system. After each spectacular move, a three-dimensional image will appear above your head, which will give you strength and demoralize your opponent. New in-game physics have been added to stick handling, so movements now look, feel, and affect the game just like real ones. The innovative X-Factor Superstart system allows you to use the players’ unique abilities.
The Frostbite engine adds significant visual enhancements to the game that greatly enhance the realism of NHL 22. From increased resemblance to real-life hockey players to new eye animations that allow players to follow the action with their eyes, NHL superstars have never looked so realistic.