Authentic gameplay is the most important attribute of any sports simulation. Without it, impressive game modes and online features are pointless. Just like in a live hockey game, everything comes down to what happens on the ice. Fortunately for hockey players and fans, EA Sports promises an authentic experience when NHL 12 hits stores on Sept. 13.
Goalie animations and artificial intelligence are among the major improvements in the forthcoming title, according to gameplay producer Novell Thomas. "Dynamic goalies was a huge feature for us this year," he says. "[For NHL 12,] we added more save animations and improved goalie positioning"—thanks to feedback from Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathon Quick. Thomas called working with Quick "a major win for us," and we can only assume it will be a win for gamers, too.
NHL 12 will also feature the first interactive goalies in the history of the franchise. "Rather than goalies being immovable objects, players can now make contact with them and knock them down," says Thomas. "However, if you're too aggressive with the goaltender, you'll be called for an interference penalty, or the goaltender may take matters into his own hands and challenge you to a fight. These features go hand-in-hand with the new 'Full Contact Physics Engine,' where size and strength matter." Similar to the improved hitting dynamics we discussed in our Madden NFL 12 review, the big guys will take advantage of their size and muscles.
NHL 12 also boasts an all new balance control system. For example, athletes on the ice can lose their balance, catch themselves on one leg or fall to their knees in the middle of play—and this is just one of 300 gameplay additions and enhancements Thomas says fans can expect in the latest edition of their hit franchise.
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