After a successful NHL 11, playing which I and many others spent numerous hours, EA Sports was met with a challenge. After getting fantastic reviews on most gaming review websites, how could they improve?
Somehow, they managed to do it.
The biggest worry that fans of sports series have is that a game will come along that feels and is too similar to the last year’s game, and NHL 12, which EA Sports released on September 13, is certainly not that.
The game boasted many gameplay changes including the new physics engine, live goaltenders, the action tracker and an overall more realistic look and feel.
The new physics engine is something that built off NHL 11; the idea was to make every check different. For example, when 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins checks a significantly smaller player, the expected result occurs; the smaller player collapses. Size was made a factor and for this gamers will applaud the developers. Although it really doesn’t seem to affect gameplay all that much, I noticed that it is there, and it makes the game seem more realistic. This realism is important to me. The fact that a player like 5-foot-10 Martin St. Louis can’t lay out a Zdeno Chara is noted, and it was an excellent addition.
The live goaltenders are a feature that fans have been asking for, and NHL 12 delivered. What this change means is the old style which ultimately had a force field around the goalie, is gone. Now, the goalie is just like any other player. He must now stand his ground in order to successfully stop shots. Another feature that branches off of this is the return of goalie fights. After a handful of goalies fought in the actual NHL, EA Sports decided that it was realistic enough to implement. The goalies can fight either players or other goalies. I don’t care all too much for the goalie fighting, really, because it is actually hard to initiate a goalie fight and even if it happens, it’s just 12 or so seconds of silliness. However, the live goaltenders are an addition that I am a huge fan of. They are able to make more dynamic saves, and it makes for a much tougher game.
The action tracker is something the developers implemented to make it seem more like a broadcast. In this feature, you can review every shot, every hit, save, goal, etc. Although this addition can easily go unnoticed, I actually am a big fan. After a few uses, it seems very reliable. (I admit that I used it several times to watch some of the spectacular goals I scored). However, I won’t be using it for strategy, and I’ll probably completely forget about it in the coming months, but it is still something cool for hardcore players.

The action tracker was implemented into NHL 12. The main uses are to watch highlights and review the game.

The final new gameplay change was the overall more realistic look and feel. This somewhat goes hand and hand with the topics mentioned before, but there was also other changes that contributed to this. For example, players have much more fluent strides while skating, and the stick handling is much more dynamic. The puck is live, so it can roll and does not tie into the animations of the players. All of these work really well together. Players just want a realistic game, so when a game delivers, we are completely aware of that fact and we love it. NHL 12 feels excellent. It’s a lot different from NHL 11, but in the best way possible.
Along with these changes to gameplay, there were several new or improved game modes.

Be-A-Pro Revamped-
In Be-A-Pro, a gamer can take on the career of an individual player. You are able to ride up the ladder to the NHL and attempt to “be the next great legend” (a slogan EA Sports has tied to the game mode.)

Be-A-Pro has never really been a favorite for fans. It seemed slow and disjointed and it didn’t flow as a game mode. In NHL 12, EA Sports attempted to fix this by adding tasks and letting you skip to your next shift. Unfortunately, it’s still slow. As hard as it is to criticize this game, the new Be-A-Pro just isn’t that fun. I may play it every once in a while, but it won’t be anything I’ll crave to play.

In Be-A-Pro, the new features that were implemented are tasks and skipping to the next shift.

Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT)-
My personal favorite game mode, Hockey Ultimate Team, was a game mode that was implemented in NHL 11. It is a mix between trading cards and gameplay. You are able to collect cards that are the equivalent of players from around the NHL.
Even though not much was changed, I still absolutely love this game mode. One of the few changes is HUT 24/7, which allows you to play against any user at any time or be played against by any user at any time. You play the computer, not the actual user, but it is the user’s players. If a user played against my team while I was at school, and lost, I would be rewarded. This feature is awesome. Pucks (the currency in HUT) are always tough to get, so to acquire some with no work required is excellent.


Winter Classic-The Winter Classic is a game mode that EA Sports made a huge deal of over the summer. The Winter Classic is an actual NHL event that takes place in an outdoor baseball field. It occurs on Jan. 1 every year.

This looks stellar. It’s very cool to see the snow falling down around the players and the towel spinning fans. When it comes up in my other game modes, I’ll be excited to play it; it’s a completely different experience. However, it won’t be a game mode that will be played over and over.


The Winter Classic is a new feature in NHL 12, and it is played outdoors.

I’m the first to admit that I was extremely skeptical about the implementation of “Legends.” I’m happy to say that I was wrongfully skeptical. This is a really cool feature. The legends span throughout all game modes, and this is a really cool idea. I was worried they would be over powered, but they aren’t. It will be cool to play as the greats.

Wayne Gretsky is one of the greatest players to ever play hockey, and you can play as or against him in NHL 12.

All in all, NHL 12 is a phenomenal follow up to a near perfect NHL 11. All the gameplay changes are excellent and most game modes are excellent. I can confidently give it a solid 9.5/10, and look forward to playing it for the coming year.

Brandon Mauriello

Posted in A&E

6 thoughts on “Fans ask, NHL 12 delivers

  1. I agree great game, with great improvements across the board. However, for casual players, or those who dont value the realism of the gameplay itself, i can understand that some of the change may be difficult to notice. For me, the changes are well noticed and gives the game a fresh feel that will keep me coming back as NHL 11 did.

  2. That’s the problem with sports games, unfortunately; they’re starved for innovation.

    Great review though, though thank god for the pictures to break up all that text.

    1. As far as the rating goes, it was based off the game itself, not as an improvement from last year. The trouble with sports games is after a successful one, you have to be very touchy with what you change. You don’t want to change something that fans already liked. However, I do feel like the things they did change were great. They had something around the ball park of 100 actual gameplay changes. They changed things within the mode. It’s an all around good game, with good improvements, so that’s why I felt it deserved a good score.

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