NHL 10: Emotion, Big Men, and Precision Passing

final kaoss

Staff member
Pick a fight with Sidney Crosby in NHL 10 and you'll get a fight, just not with Sid the Kid. More often than not you'll get Penguins' right-winger and notorious tough guy Bill Guerin quite literally in your face, thanks to NHL 10's first person fighting system. The "tough guy" aspects of NHL 10 come through loud and clear from the moment you step on the ice or, rather, as soon as the whistle blows. After all, just because a play on the ice is whistled dead doesn't mean it's over, as players will be able to get in a few good post-whistle hits just for safe measure.I saw NHL behind closed doors at E3 2009 a few weeks back. The very presence of the game at E3 was telling--despite the series has been on the rise over the past couple of years (including winning two straight Sports Games of the Year awards from GameSpot) its been absent from the show, until this year. Good critical response and good sales have contributed to that decision, but confidence in this year's entry certainly doesn't hurt either. While speaking with series producer David Littman at E3, the first thing we talked about was missing from NHL 09: emotion.[ Watch Video ] "[Last year] we were missing that. We had really cool stuff you could do on offense, cool stuff you could do on defense. Every now and then you'd have a great game with your friends or you're playing in the EA Sports Hockey League, and its exciting. But the emotion wasn't in the game."That looks to change with NHL 10 in a big way. Emotion is everywhere in this game--one look at the crowd members who stand up and bang on the glass as players sweat for the puck against the boards will tell you that. First person fighting is another lynchpin for that strategy. The controls are simple enough--once engaged in a fight you can move left and right by moving the left stick and punch by moving the right stick at an angle left or right; you can rear back for a big punch by first pressing down and then up. As you go, you'll land punches in your opponent's face and, if you get rocked by a few shots, the screen will darken gradually as you begin to lose consciousness. You can't pull a guy's jersey over his head--hopefully that's an addition for NHL 11--and while it's not exactly Fight Night on Ice, it's at least an improvement from the milquetoast fighting from years' past.It's the act of fighting which in part brings back the prominence of big men to NHL 10, which had been glossed over in the series for the past few years. Sure, it's fun to play as a speedy Sid, dekeing defenders and scoring goals but, in NHL 10, you'll need to have big men in you team to protect your skilled players from getting roughed up. Every Gretzky needs his Marty McSorley, it seems, and you'll need to take tough guys into consideration both when you're on the ice and building your team in dynasty mode. Thankfully it's not all about fighting in NHL 10--the game will be bringing board play to the ice for the first time and the controls are easier than I thought they might be. To initiate boardplay you hold the Y button on the 360 controller (triangle on the PS3). When pinned up against the boards with the puck in your possession, you rotate your player left or right to block a defender from gaining access to the puck. I f you're the one doing the pinning, you can move the pinned player left or right with the left stick. To kick-pass the puck out from the boards, you push the right trigger, aiming with the left stick. When battling along the boards, your teammates will come to try and free the puck up from the scrum and, as a result, the entire mechanic feels pretty organic and doesn't interrupt the flow as much as I thought it might.One particular point emphasis for the team, and my favorite addition that I've seen so far, is the new advanced passing system. Last year's game was hampered by the frequency of hyper-accurate tape-to-tape passes. While NHL 10 players won't suddenly forget how to move the puck by themselves, using the new passing mechanic will put that much more control (and responsibility) for smart passing in the hands of the player. With this precision passing system (which is not the default passing style), you still pass, you aim your pass with the left stick and pass with the right trigger. How hard you press the right trigger will determine the speed of the puck, ranging from soft passes to lasers and several points in between. The precision aiming and speed control take some getting used to and I screwed up more times than I'd like to mention during my time with the game, particularly when passing to the point while in my opponent's offensive zone. The speed control takes some acclimation too--the default pass speed felt a bit slow for my tastes and it might be something that's tweaked as development continues on the game this year. Still, there's no doubt that, with a little practice you can take advantage of the added flexibility this new passing system has in store, making stretch passes and more accurate one-timers available to you. Beyond the changes to the controls, Littman told me the team is looking to add somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 new animations in the game. You can see a few examples in the new screens and video of the game, but will include things like players dekeing and shooting from their knees, jumping to catch a puck in mid-air, one-timing a loose puck, and new fake shot animations (complete with a leg lift), among many others. The video above, which was shot at EA Sports' booth at E3, shows a drop pass, a player one-timing a loose puck, and his teammate batting a puck out of mid-air in a single sequence. The team is still staying mum on the other features in the game, though Littman did tell me to expect an increased focus on the playoffs in NHL 10. As well, I'm looking forward to hearing more about the planned improvements for the EA Sports Hockey League, which was introduced in last year's game. The Stanley Cup playoffs may have just ended but expect the hockey updates to continue all summer long. Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

"NHL 10: Emotion, Big Men, and Precision Passing" was posted by BrianEk on Tue, 16 Jun 2009 08:43:19 -0700

Posted on Tue, 16 Jun 2009 08:43:19 -0700
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