Ah, yes. It’s that time of year again! Mid-October signals EA Sports’ yearly installation of their NHL series is released to the public with all the enthusiasm of air rushing out of a balloon, ironically just like the wet fart of a game that it is.
As someone who’s not really into video games, the NHL series is one of the few I buy and play every year, even if it’s just a handful of times for the purpose of writing a few stories for the website. Though this year I only played through one whole game before I decided that it just isn’t for me. For the sake of a review, I played through a few different modes, but it was a far greater struggle than playing video games should be.
The first experience playing the game this season already left a bad taste in my mouth thanks to a new bug. I loaded up the game, go to “play now” to get my first taste of action… and the screen is just black. The game loads, the scoreboard is visible on the bottom of the screen along with the player indicators, but everything else is just black. I had to exit out of the game, go back to the home page of the xbox, close the game completely and restart everything before it worked again. I also encountered the same problem during the first game of the Women’s World Championship tournament I started.
Also, one of the biggest bugs last season, being the EA Sports cut screen freezing after scoring a goal, has also returned. Have not experienced this one personally yet, but it is a major complaint from fellow players on Twitter I stumbled across while seeing if anybody else was dealing with the black-out screen glitch.
UPDATE: Since this piece was released I’ve been alerted by various readers of other bugs including controller issues, commentary not working properly, and the in-game strategies feature glitched beyond recognition. Well done, EA.
How can I play your video game if I can’t make it through a full game without something going fatally wrong with the current matchup?
Once the initial frustration went away, literally had to turn off the Xbox and walk away entirely on Friday and didn’t play again until Saturday night and the game itself started to work, It’s just… the exact same game as last year. That’s always the typical overarching review of any NHL game over the last handful of years, but there’s usually a few tweaks that are at least noticeable, but there are none to be found this year. Even the official promo work by EA flaunts just minor changes to HUT and CHEL and doesn’t mention much else.
It’s quite literally a $60 glorified roster update.
Also, just a note for the women’s roster in the game… why is Brianna Decker in the very first background scene of the home menu but not actually in the game? Granted she’s actually hurt in real life, but it’s the little things that most people probably didn’t even notice but boy is it annoying. Also, put more women’s hockey in NHL games, please.
Even the graphics aren’t anything to write home about. Sure, they may be better than they were a decade ago, but it’s almost 2023… how is it possible this game still looks so rough around the edges? It looks like they scanned the faces of a few of the top players, but everyone else looks nothing like their real life counterpart. They all look like generic create-a-player faces that, maybe when squinting, look like real people. The promo work makes the highlighted players look great, but then the actual game is a massive disappointment.
NHL 23 is by far the worst of the other major sports video games. 2K does a great job with the NBA, Sony does a phenomenal job with MLB The Show, and EA doesn’t even make an attempt to move their NHL series forward.
If you haven’t bought this game yet, don’t. Save the 60 bucks and just play NHL 22 for another year instead. Or better yet, just breakout the Gamecube or something and play NHL 06, back when the game was actually good.
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By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: easports.com