All of my life I have been an avid “video game” player. I use the term video game loosely, because I didn’t grow up playing action games, adventure games, role-playing games or even puzzle games. In fact, I’ve pretty much just stuck to the sports and racing type games my whole life. I lived my live vicariously through games like Madden, FIFA, NHL, NCAA Football. I’ve been through it all, the dynasty of the Everett Eagles (NCAAF), heart breaking Super Bowl loses with the Buffalo Bills (Madden), and Back to Back cup runs with the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL). Honestly I played these games so much that I could hear the iconic voice in my sleep, saying “EA Sports, if it’s in the game, it’s in the game”. That slogan is still around today, but it got me thinking is it actually true anymore?
A month or two ago, my parents asked me to compile a list of things I would want for Christmas. So that’s exactly what I did. I had a few items on my wish list, one in particular was NHL20 for PS4. Why is this important you may ask?
Well, rewind back to my childhood when I was excited for NHL video games to come out each year. I would look forward to all of the new updates, rosters, gameplay and features. In fact, I would order the game on the first day of its release. So what has changed? The game has been out for a few months, and I was in no rush to get it. Over the years EA Sports has added little updates here and there to the NHL series (most of the updates for Hockey Ultimate Team *HUT*, but my main focus is in the franchise mode and general gameplay). In fact I have noticed a lot of things that have been taken out of the game, which goes against everything EA Sports slogan stands for.
For instance a few years ago the NHL Series introduced official goal horns and goal songs for every NHL team (NHL18 Goal Songs/Horns). I thought this was a fantastic idea! When playing the game it made you feel like you were actually in the home teams arena, and it provided you with a better understanding of an organizations personality giving the game a more authentic feel. BUT, guess what was taken out of the game last year.. you guessed it, the official goal songs. Now you can hear songs from the soundtrack list or just generic songs in general. It’s real exciting stuff, it really gets the crowd going..
Some other features that have been taking out over the years are in relationship to gameplay presentation. First, the announcement of Three Stars of the game, was not always just a pop up screen like it is now. In the late 90s and early 2000s games, players actually skated out onto the rink to be recognized for their in game accomplishments.
In addition to the 3 stars, pregame intro videos were a lot better back then. Some NHL games would show the teams skate onto the rink with a little highlight reel video, and the playing of the National Anthems (both American and Canadian). Over the years these have also been taken out. Some people might not care about this stuff being in the game, but I enjoyed it and quite frankly miss it.
Over the years more and more have been taken out of the game, most recently fans throwing hats on the ice after a hat-trick (UNREAL). In my opinion taking little details like these out are really ruining the NHL series franchise. Everything that is updated has to do with HUT, but I guess it makes sense, since people spend additional money on cards and what not.. The graphics, animations, and game modes have definitely improved over the years, theres no debating that. However, I think EA Sports needs to get back to the basics. It’s the little details the games are missing nowadays, and my message to them is, “if it’s in the game we want it in the game”.