NHL 10 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
NHL 10 box art
System: X360, PS3 Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Canada 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Electronic Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sep. 15, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-12 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Modes of play are nearly identical to last year's offerings. All of the tried and true options are back with only minor changes. New modes include Be a GM, Battle for the Cup, and Playoff Mode. Be a GM is really just a re-skinning of the Franchise mode - you take on the role of your favorite team's GM, coach, and a top player over a 25 season period. This mode features a detailed, more in-depth way to play the game for the simulation strategists among you, but it doesn't seem to be as streamlined as it needs to be for the console experience - if you like wading through interminable text screens with your D-pad, you probably aren't planning on picking up NHL 10 anyway. Battle for the Cup features classic gameplay, letting you pit two teams against each other in a 3, 5, or 7 game series and control all the outside parameters including cup type. Playoff Mode is essentially the same kind of mode, but you get take part in the entire post-season from any professional hockey league featured in NHL 10.

NHL 10 screenshot

Outside of those options, other modes are more or less untouched. Online play is identical, except technical performance is notably enhanced - one of the few complaints experienced in last year's version. Be a Pro now lets you customize your player character significantly more, going as far as including the Hockey Shop. This store lets you purchase unique equipment, customizing items, and even attribute enhancing packs for your Be a Pro and online player. While all these can be unlocked through in-game accomplishments, impatient players who want an edge can purchase the goods (such as RPG-like, attribute pack-slotted sticks) with real money - a smart economic decision by EA that may or may not play well with series vets.

Graphical presentation during play, on the surface, is the same as last year - in other words, it is excellent. However, stadium ambiance and player animations are far superior. EA claims they have injected "Playoff atmosphere" into every game, and I can attest to that. Crowds are unique, excited, and really add to the overall presentation. Loads of new player animations have been added to the mix, so the game really looks and feels like a true game of hockey. The only graphical hiccup is found in some of the player likenesses, not all of them have been given game-face treatment. On the aural side of things, EA always puts together a competent mix of contemporary jams. Furthermore, the commentary is once again spot-on (Gary Thorne's got a golden voice), and stadium and on-ice sound effects are brilliant.

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NHL 10 is one hell of a good hockey game. It nails playability, presentation, gameplay variety, online options, and realism. It also is one of the best local multiplayer sporting experiences available. As is the case with any annual update, the differences implemented, while significant, may not be compelling enough for many NHL 09 owners to upgrade. However, any self-respecting, hockey-loving gamer would do well to stay up to date.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.5
Graphics
Stadium atmospheres are great, and the addition of a ton more player animations are noticeable.
4.5
Control
If you liked the Skill Stick of NHL 09, you'll be thrilled by the even tighter scheme this year and the pinpoint shooting controls - I just wish the Board Play modifier wasn't so powerful.
4.6
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack is as solid as ever, the stadium ambience and on-ice sound effects are perfect. The excellent commentary once again shows other sports games how it should be done.
4.6
Play Value
Tons of single-player, local multiplayer, and online modes keep things fresh. The incredibly entertaining gameplay will keep you coming back, however.
4.6
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Battle on the Boards - A new board play physics engine lets you shield the puck with your body along the boards, kick-pass it to teammates, or pin an opponent, adding a new level of realism to cycling the puck and the dump and chase. AI teammates will support the puck and help you win the battle as fans bang on the glass.
  • Intimidation Tactics - Forecheck defenders, pressure the puck and finish checks to force your opponent into mistakes. Players fatigue, bobble passes, and avoid collisions under threat of physical pressure. Face wash a superstar to provoke the opposition, instigate a scrum and ignite the crowd.
  • Post-Whistle Action - Now, the game never stops! Antagonize opposing players, finish checks, retaliate for late shots on goal, draw penalties and pick fights-all after the referee blows the whistle!
  • New 1st Person Fighting Engine - Change the momentum of a game by trading blows with an NHL enforcer with all-new first-person fighting. Grab and tug an opponent's jersey to land a big punch. Face wash an opponent to start a fight even after the whistle.
  • New Precision Passing - A new 360° precision passing mechanic delivers control over the speed and direction of passes so players can bank passes off the boards or play the puck into space for teammates to skate on to it. Players take poor passes off their skates and kick the puck to their sticks.
  • Spectacular Goals - Introducing spectacular new ways to score, like players one-timing loose pucks, stick-handling and shooting from their knees, batting pucks out of the air and lifting a leg to fake a shot on goal.
  • Improved Goalie Intelligence - Goaltenders position themselves more intelligently, react to shots more quickly and recover from saves faster. Plus, 250 new goalie animations including swatting pucks out of the air, second and third saves, and desperation lunges.
  • Interactive Atmosphere - Playoff atmosphere pops to life with towel-waving fans, deafening noise and crowds that react and respond to the action on the ice. Fanatical fans bang glass during board play, spring to their feet after big hits, and boo opposing stars when they handle the puck.
  • Next-Level authenticity - Over 200 gameplay refinements, including new offensive and defensive AI for more intelligent positioning, and new in-game facial animations that show player emotion when delivering bone-crunching checks or celebrating game-winning goals.


  • Screenshots / Images
    NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge NHL 10 screenshot - click to enlarge

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