We grabbed our skates, sticks and (s)pucks and seized the opportunity to try out the latest in EA’s Ice Hockey series, NHL 18. So prepare to faceoff and see whether it’s a hit or just a poke.
The first thing that struck me when booting up for the first time was the range of modes included in the game. There’s the usual modes within most sporting games; the Play Now, Create a Tournament, Online; but then we move onto the more interesting additions to the title.
I began by jumping into Franchise mode, which allowed an initial choice of three options; Classic, where you pick an established team and grow and rise to the top, 31 Team, which runs you through the draft with the new Las Vegas Golden Knights, or 32 team, giving the option to start a new team and run the draft alongside the Knights. I ran with 32 team, which gave a huge amount of customization.
Being able to build up a team completely from scratch was a great decision by the design team, as it allows you to really invest into the game and develop a love for your team. There’s even the ability to create a team mascot and match your team music to suit.
The game then opens up to full control of the team, being able to make decisions regarding full team line-ups, offering contract extensions to players and then taking them to the ice, facing up against known and existing teams. At the end of my first season, I'll be honest, I wasn't doing great. But being able to make adjustments in both my own personal play style and the way the team operated, meant the following season went much better. Franchise in my opinion is where the meat of the game sits, however there is still much more to offer.
As with all current EA games, there is the Be a Pro mode, where you take a custom made character and run them through the ranks, being drafted, and creating a career. However it feels very much stale with no big standout improvements made.
The most hyped mode this year during EA's marketing however is the NHL Threes. Similar to the old school 1990's arcade games, it pits (as you can guess by the name) three team members against three, which is a fun twist on the games. It is a nice refreshment to take a break from the other modes to jump into it, with stars being awarded for performance.
NHL games have never been hugely hyped up in the UK, and it's a shame. 18 is a good chapter in the series and even for those who aren't into Ice Hockey, a great game to pick up. 7/10 is the final score at the buzzer!