The NHL 15 demo debuted today for Xbox One and Playstation 4. The demo takes you to a regular season game between the New York Rangers and the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. I walked away highly impressed with the quality.
NHL 15 made me feel like I was on the ice like never before. Featuring a new physics system mixed with the power of the new-gen consoles creates the most genuine virtual hockey experience to date. All 12 players on the ice have their own physics system now. The way the jerseys flow on each player was amazing. The puck feels more alive than ever, as it can not only slide but take an odd bounce or a roll. When I wound up for a slap shot from the blue line, the speed at which it moved appeared as if I was at a real-life NHL game.
Many of the controls are identical to past iterations of the series. As each period goes on, the ice becomes more and more choppy (not just visually, but in feeling as well). My control would slightly vibrate when moving through particularly popular areas of the ice, such as around the goal line.
The commentary and presentation is the most notable upgrade from the past, with a complete NBC overhaul of the game. Doc Emrick and Ed Olczyk are in the booth while Ray Ferraro adds a nice touch between the glass (thank goodness it was not PIerre McGuire). The crew sounds a bit robotic compared to Gary Thorne and Bill Clement, but the series was long overdue for a change. Emrick isn’t nearly as good as he was a decade ago, but it works. In the game’s introduction, the outside of the arena is shown before moving to a green screen of Olczyk and Emrick. The graphics are so life-like that it is barely noticeable that the two are not computer generated.
Lastly, the NHL arenas are each true to their real-life counterparts. The Staples Center looked beautiful. Over 9,000 fan models were scanned, so we finally won’t see the same 9-10 fans copied over and over. In the pregame introduction, I couldn’t get over how real Jonathan Quick appeared.
NHL 15 is going to be the perfect way for hockey fans to get their fix before the NHL heats up in October. Xbox One & PS4 owners will be upset to know that the mega popular EASHL is not apart of the game, but that shouldn’t hold you back from what is sure to be a fantastic game. This is the biggest jump in quality since the invention of the skill stick back in NHL 08.
NHL 15 is available September 9, 2014 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, and Playstation 3.
Josiah LeRoy is Geekiverse’s Senior Editor. He can’t wait to use the Buffalo Sabres’ brutally ugly third jerseys in NHL 15.
Photos via EAsport.com and xboxachievements.com