NHL 11 - Catch-All

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At the risk of overstepping my bounds, I thought it was a good time to kick-off the NHL 11 hype. This year, that means physics, and lots of added realism. It looks great. The risk here is, will it play great?

Sean Ramjagsingh is tall. And some info about the new physics engine.

That's the dude who gave us our hands-on demo at E3 as well. Tall doesn't begin to describe that guy. lol

I'm definitely jazzed about NHL '11. The new physics system is huge and I love the improved ability to control the draw on face-offs. The only real question is going to be how well they balance it out of the box; they really had it amped up in terms of hits and broken sticks for the E3 demo stations. I'm sure they'll tone it down for release, but striking a balance there will be a challenge.

This is so cool. I don't think I can fully describe just how badly I want this game. NOW!

Also, there is a cool new face-off system.

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/ex...

This looks interesting, but I'll admit that I couldn't get into the previous NHL games on the 360 simply because the controls had such a steep learning curve for someone like me who has never played a sports game. All of the controls are introduced at once and are required right away for gameplay (understandably). I might give this one a shot, but I wouldn't be surprised to see myself give up in frustration before the end of the tutorial if they don't have graduated levels of control a la Forza 3.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

This looks interesting, but I'll admit that I couldn't get into the previous NHL games on the 360 simply because the controls had such a steep learning curve for someone like me who has never played a sports game. All of the controls are introduced at once and are required right away for gameplay (understandably). I might give this one a shot, but I wouldn't be surprised to see myself give up in frustration before the end of the tutorial if they don't have graduated levels of control a la Forza 3.

I had this reaction to NHL 09. I bought it, then sold it soon after. It was later that I decided to give it another try, as the blues made a run for the playoffs, and I was excited to play some videogame hockey.

For some reason, it came to me much easier. It helps if you set perspective to Always Up, as it feels very natural to pull back and shoot with the right stick. Then play game an concentrate on each more. One game poke check the hell out of the CPU. The next game, use the stick lift.

And be sure to set the aim to Auto before each game. Then you just have to use the RS to shoot, and the game will aim for you. I've never graduated to, and I don't plan to, using the manual aim, where the LS is used to aim for the corners or though the goalie's feet. there is no setting for Auto-aim, so you have to set it in the pre-game screen each time.

So while I shelved the game for being too difficult to pick-up at first, it became second nature pretty quickly. For a cheaper version, you can try the arcade version via XBLA or PSN. It has the same controls, but it more of an arcade version of three-on-three hockey that is pretty fun.

If I had to reduce my sports gaming to one game or sport, EA's NHL game would easily be the choice. There is just a flow and excitement to videogame hockey that is addictive as all get out. It's the one game where I find myself fist pumping, dancing, and throwing my arms up in the air while I play all alone.

Clockwork, if you have a Wii, I'd also recommend at least looking into EA's NHL Slapshot game for that platform. I admit the hokey hockey stick controller seems bizarre at first, but it genuinely look like a good fun game of hockey without having to learn a ton of different controls.

If you can wade through the BS, there was some interesting stuff in a chat hosted by EA. Most importantly, they announced a new feature for NHL 11, the Hustle Button.

EASPORTSNHL: Ok, the new Gameplay Feature is a feature we are calling the Hustle Button. I will let Redshirt explain how it works.

RedshirtEA: Ok... first what it is NOT....
It is NOT sprint or speed burst like NHL06 (and earlier).

RedshirtEA: It is on L3, and it gives you an increase to acceleration and a small increase in speed.

RedshirtEA: The point of it is to create a range in speed so that players aren't always going 100% speed. It lowers your fatigue more quickly than normal skating and you can't turn as sharply.

[Comment From scottv]
Can we use it for offense or just skating back? Can we "switch gears" as they say?

NateHL: this is exactly what the intention of the hustle button is. it is for players to "Switch gears" as the commentators call it. you can use it for both offense and defense.

RedshirtEA: So you won't be using this to weave around with the puck, it is more for straight ahead speed in transition on on races for the puck.

EASPORTSNHL: Or getting around a defender, which is when I like to use it

RedshirtEA: It is also something defenders now have to counter the speed/acceleration boost given by the push puck.

EASPORTSNHL: it's not a turbo button...you're not going to want to use it in any situation unless you are going straight

EASPORTSNHL: with or without the puck

EASPORTSNHL: 3 taps gets you to the max speed. you won't get any other benefit after that

EASPORTSNHL: once will give you a small burst...twice, a little more burst, and 3x will get you to top speed. you got the right idea

NateHL: you can use it as much as you want but there will be a fatigue cost. like Sk88z mentioned, you can tap it 500 times, but after 3, you're maxed out.

RedshirtEA: RE: difference between push and hustle
You keep control of the puck, but don't get quite as much acceleration and speed because there is a penalty on those for having the puck.

RedshirtEA: Three in a row gets you to the max speed and it'll drop off slowly from there. You can maintain the top speed by clicking at a moderate rate. When you are getting a boost you will fatigue faster and turn less quickly.

EASPORTSNHL: With the hustle feature, there is risk-reward in that you will get fatigued the more you use it.

RedshirtEA: Hustle will work in EASHL too because there is fatigue there. This is tied to the endurance attribute so that will end up being pretty important.

They also included several new videos. Here is one that shows the new puck physics in action.

I'm pretty sure I need not mention that my desire to play this is quite high.

This is so depressing.

It's depressing because I could see spending all of my time in this mode, except for what they fail to mention in the video. While you can earn your "Pucks" while playing the game. The only way to really keep up your team is to buy packs of cards.

http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/111/...

While I didn't have the time to build up teams of my own while spending a day at EA's Vancouver studios, I did get a chance to toy around with a few that had already been beefed up for me. One team had been crafted free of microtransactions and in only a few hours, the other had been scrutinized over for days with more than fifty bucks in microtransactions. There's no doubt that the microtransaction-less team could be brought up to the level of the cash-happy squad with a few more games, but for now the difference was huge. I scored three goals in a period and a half with the more expensive of the two, while the other didn't put one in through a full two periods.

Now consider that once your team is assembled, those players are only yours for 7-10 games. You will need to continually add contract cards and new players to maintain a level.

The other huge issue with the Madden version was the inability to play your friends with these teams. You could only play the CPU, and random pubtards. And since you earned more points by running up the score and piling up huge stats, it turned pub play into 10x the nightmare. It was cheese city all the time.

If this was a game mode I paid $15-$20 bucks for, but cards were earned only by points earned in the game, and I could play friends, it would be awesome. The interface and the strategies involved are fun as heck. But they are completely ruined by the way the game is monetized. Heck, let me pay $5 a month, and I'm in. But EA turned this into a face in the Madden game. It was good for EA, as there are people out there spending a ton of cash on the game that love it. But there was a recent meltdown when players found out that a certain rare card had been sod by EA in far excess of its limit. Players had spent enough points that it would cost $15 in order to buy this card, but found its value on the market dropping because everyone got it.

Well, it is just a free mode, and might keep a bunch of the cheesers out of the regular online play. NHL 11 is still a day one purchase.

Well... this is certainly... a thing.

Prederick wrote:

Well... this is certainly... a thing.

They're just unlocks. You're just saving yourself some time buying them.

I find it hard to get upset about stuff that's unlockable in-game being sold, since it's truly optional.

TheCounselor wrote:
Prederick wrote:

Well... this is certainly... a thing.

They're just unlocks. You're just saving yourself some time buying them.

I find it hard to get upset about stuff that's unlockable in-game being sold, since it's truly optional.

It rally depends on how it is implemented. Be a Pro seemed so much less fun last season because the XP seemed much harder to come buy, and many of the boosts required more than a 100 games to unlock. It all seemed designed to make you pay for the unlock, which ruins the mode if you want to progress a player naturally.

Even playing offline, the monetization of the game made it less fun. But trying to take your player online made it even worse.

Demo drops this Tuesday!

http://kotaku.com/5611715/nhl-11-dem...

Yippee!

Aaron D. wrote:

Demo drops this Tuesday!

http://kotaku.com/5611715/nhl-11-dem...

Yippee!

I was banking on that when I traded NHL 10 in on Madden. I figured the demo would drop soon, and Gamestop had special deals on trade-ins for Madden. I got $42 for NHL 10 and Blur.

The demo will be enough for me until the game drops in a few weeks. I seriously can't wait to give it a spin.

Aaron D. wrote:

Demo drops this Tuesday!

http://kotaku.com/5611715/nhl-11-dem...

Yippee!

*fap fap fap*

ColdForged wrote:
Aaron D. wrote:

Demo drops this Tuesday!

http://kotaku.com/5611715/nhl-11-dem...

Yippee!

*fap fap fap*

That puts a whole new spin on these posts.

Jayhawker wrote:
ColdForged wrote:
Aaron D. wrote:

Demo drops this Tuesday!

http://kotaku.com/5611715/nhl-11-dem...

Yippee!

*fap fap fap*

That puts a whole new spin on these posts.

Sounds like someone's jonesing for some hairy manflesh!

NHL 11 Demo has dropped! The impressions over at OS are pretty good, too!

And I'm at a coffee shop with the wife instead of home playing it right now. Grrrr....

*edit* Oh, Holy Crap! There is word now that the demo mentions online franchise mode!

I cannot wait to see what they have cooked up, because those guys tend to blow the Madden guys out of the water when you compare how they implement features.

In fact, the more I have looked at the NHL Ultimate Team, the more I think it may actually be cool to play even if you don't spend cash on the mode.

Son of a bitch. I had just enough time to download it this morning with no time left to actually play.

I wish I cared more about online modes :(. Perhaps online franchise is what I need.

ColdForged wrote:

Son of a bitch. I had just enough time to download it this morning with no time left to actually play.

I wish I cared more about online modes :(. Perhaps online franchise is what I need.

I'm mixed on this, honestly. As one of the Auto-Aim users, online play has been kind of a letdown. Since Auto-Aim is not available for any online play, I seem to get stuck trying to win by just scoring one or two goals, max. Offline, Auto-Aim provides me a great experience.

What might be cool in an Online Franchise type league is that we would play less games against humans, but instead have friends participating in out franchise mode with us. Even if we play our franchise solo, if you put it online, it gives you net access to stats and such, which is nice.

So...ummm...I will be get NHL11 and I may be getting Live. This information might be interesting to some people.

Time to take back the 360 from the kids, I believe.

Vector wrote:

So...ummm...I will be get NHL11 and I may be getting Live. This information might be interesting to some people.

Indeed. I just preordered. Yes, I broke two rules: don't trade in and don't preorder. Truly I am a shameful gimp.

Got a few games in and I like what I see. Each year since '07 they've been gradually improving the organic, flowing feel of the game. '11 has a lot of quality "flow" that really looks like hockey. It's hard to explain but it involves the puck being more of a free entity, taking bounces and not being harnessed as essentially part of the player's model. The physics engine is part of it, but when you have the puck behind the net and there's a scrum between 3 or 4 players, there are many changes of possession and fewer instances of frozen guy or frozen puck than in years past. Even stick lifts and board play don't feel as contrived and stilted, instead flowing about how you'd expect.

I have yet to feel a difference with the new hustle control. I don't know whether I'm not doing it right, but so far I got nothing. The hitting engine feels far better -- and I dig having a separate "hip check" control along the boards... lining one up right feels quite righteous -- and well-executed ones are rewarding. Everything overall feels tightened up considerably feel-wise. The one thing that's gone downhill is the line change control; the new effect for the line change screen coming up adds an unnecessary lag to it that is annoying.

I admittedly don't quite "get" the Ultimate Team mode yet. Chemistry is beyond me. As shuffled my chemistry was decent but I had players like Malkin on the 3rd line with AHL scrubs on the 1st. In attempting to make lines that appeared to make sense my chemistry went to hell and I couldn't get anything that really worked. I'm unsure how much time I'd spend in that mode. I'm really a season kind of guy. I like playing as the 'Canes as they are.

ColdForged wrote:

Got a few games in and I like what I see. Each year since '07 they've been gradually improving the organic, flowing feel of the game. '11 has a lot of quality "flow" that really looks like hockey. It's hard to explain but it involves the puck being more of a free entity, taking bounces and not being harnessed as essentially part of the player's model. The physics engine is part of it, but when you have the puck behind the net and there's a scrum between 3 or 4 players, there are many changes of possession and fewer instances of frozen guy or frozen puck than in years past. Even stick lifts and board play don't feel as contrived and stilted, instead flowing about how you'd expect.

This. The new face-off mechanic results in even more realistic flow from the face-off. They are little more confusing than I really want, but I assume it will become second nature soon enough. And from there, you begin to feel the weight of the players, giving the game an entirely new, but still familiar, feel to it. I really like the gameplay a lot.

This is encouraging. I own NHL09 but held off on NHL10.

GAWDDAMN. The AI is dangerous. As Pronger (the big galoot) I had Sharp all lined up and ready to land him on his candy ass. Went for the hit and Sharp had other plans, deking around me making it a 2 on 1 then firing a wrister past Leighton short side. Made Pronger look like a tap dancing fairy. Not that that's hard.

I wish there was replay because I scored the most believable deflection goal. Pass back to left defenseman, whip it across to right defenseman and I look up to see Leino starting to head in front of Niemi. I waited for some space and shot a low slapper (yes, I use manual aim). Leino angled his stick and leaned his body and even his skates looked believable as he redirected it up off the blade of his stick and past for the goal. I was so surprised that Leino did the stick ride for about a second for the "celebration" then stood there casually.

I dig how really hard, high angle passes sometimes deflect off sticks or skates instead of always being received. I love how the AI makes me pay for my positioning snafus.

I want the retail version now, please.

Hit me up for a game anytime you want, Cold. You prick!

Jayhawker wrote:

Hit me up for a game anytime you want, Cold. You prick!

AVATAR WIN!

EDIT: I've still experienced the best videogame hockey moments ever. I've gotten deked out of my skates on several occasions, seen the goalies absolutely humiliated with beautiful dekes by the AI, and even drew a delay of game by pressuring Niemi on a dump in when he tossed it over the glass. The penalties are believable, the movements of everyone are smooth and glorious.

The animations have been tightened up. For example, there's a goalie animation when he's trapped a puck in his pads and he looks left and right then stands up and tosses the puck down. Previously the transition between the looking and popping up was jarring. Now some transitions have been added that makes it just right.

They've even decreased the loading times to about 7 seconds from the time you get the game configured to the time you can hit the ice. That's a nice touch.

Here's hoping the music system is the same this year.

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