Over the past few weeks, there’s been a significant amount of information released regarding improvements and additions coming to EA SPORTS NHL 14; today at Under The Code, we take a Roundtable look at the “NHL ’94 Anniversary Mode,” “Goalie Gameplay Improvements,” and “Goal Scoring Balance Improvements.”
1. With this year’s release marking the 20th Anniversary of the release of the iconic NHL ’94, in NHL 14 gamers will be able to get a taste of what made the game so popular back in the day by featuring blue ice, the familiar star-shaped player indicators, “classic” celebrations, throwback organ music, and a simplified control scheme within the gameplay engine of NHL 14. What’s your impression of this mode? Do you think it does enough to celebrate what made NHL ’94 a classic? Or is the “NHL ’94 Anniversary Mode” something you think you might play once and leave behind?
KidShowtime: Sports gaming is a funny thing. There are many improvements for each sporting title that focus directly on game modes that are exclusively played offline. FIFA, Madden NFL and NHL have all had development assets poured into offline game modes which are seen as a ‘waste’ by the very vocal communities online who, obviously, prefer the online modes of their favorite sporting titles.
I’ve been a culprit of this as well. Admittedly, I don’t spend much time playing with the offline modes in the NHL series and it has nothing to do with the quality of the modes. NHL‘s (soon to be revamped) Be-A-Pro mode was one of the first times in sports gaming that we’ve seen a mode developed to give a player an opportunity to excel at one specific position. The problem lies with the A.I. Offline modes are dictated by A.I. and unfortunately, most sporting titles and their artificial intelligence haven’t come far enough to hold the attention of gamers.
Have a look at the ‘Winter Classic’ mode which has been added to the NHL series in recent years. It’s a mode that’s exclusively played offline, and it’s something that my initial navigation of the menus will access only once. Sure, it’s nice to look at and play with a friend – but that friend has to be in your gaming room. Not that actually socializing is a bad thing – heck we could all probably use more human interaction in the world we live in – but I’m sure like a lot of you, much of our gaming is done online
Initially hearing about the “NHL ‘94 Anniversary Mode” – I knew that EA had done something special and I was sincerely hopeful that it wasn’t going to be tarnished by being made to be played exclusively offline. Unfortunately, that is the case.
There was a perfect opportunity here for EA to make this mode viral – and it has gone viral on Twitter/Facebook – but the air was sucked out of the room when it was discovered that the mode would not make its way to the competitive battlegrounds of the internet. Even more so – I am unable to play this mode with my closest friends (who also think the idea behind the mode was fantastic) online.
Here is where the lack of competition in NHL gaming is beginning to be a kick in the pants for consumers.
2K Sports’ final venture in to the NHL market had an interesting take on Offline/Online game modes. Their philosophy was that you should be able to take any mode within their game, and play it online. This type of connectivity would work extremely well for not only the new NHL ’94 mode – but would work dividends for the Winter Classic, Be-A-Pro and also the Playoff Mode which was introduced 3 years ago after an outcry from fans – only to be locked to being played offline.
Their execution worked amazing as well. Let’s say I was in the middle of an offline season, playing defence for the Winnipeg Jets. I’m finding myself getting tired of the A.I., so when I select to begin my next game I am given the option to ‘Search Online’ for an opponent. At that moment, anyone who is searching for a ‘quick’ match in their menu would be presented with an option to play against me in my Be-A-Pro mode. They would have to play as the team I am scheduled to play against and would be given the option to either play as one position (à la Be-A-Pro) or as the default – play as the entire team.
When EA SPORTS and their NHL development team make the jump to next gen, I hope the idea of making every game mode accessible online is a goal of theirs. We live in a time where gamers absolutely crave online competition – but the offline gamer cannot feel left out. Making things like NHL 94 online accessible as well as offline capable is a great way to accomplish this.
Read More →