“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” -William Pollard
The NHL series is a franchise bound to deliver similar content over and over again. Is it possible to innovate under such circumstances? As a matter of a fact, it is, and NHL 17 pulled it off quite elegantly.
Let’s take this huge series and compare it to the most important product in electronics, the smartphone. Specifically, the iPhone. Every year, a new device comes out and from one version to the other, they ‘innovate’ by changing certain features. However, instead of seeking out exactly what it is that their customers want, the company’s goal is set elsewhere.
In comparison, the NHL series tends to make the best game out there by listening to fans and considering their feedback. The result game is an improvement over its predecessor.
In NHL 16, efforts were made to fix that what NHL 15 failed to do properly. In 17, a lot more changes have been made, taking it closer to the level of being a ‘complete’ sports game. In theory, the game should offer players challenging career modes and an option to play with or against others. For some time now, those features have been available and have been polished over the years to look the way they do today.
Not everyone knows about Hockey they way fans and pros do…some might not even know the basics. Well, NHL 17 cater to all sorts of players, regardless of their experience level. As you get acquainted with the game, and in some cases with the sport, the game will tell you and show you what to do, where to go and where to aim. As you get used to the basics, it will remind you that certain advance moves and tactics are also available for you to perform. Slowly, you are learning more about the game and the sport itself.
On the ice, skating is a lot more fluid and crisp – shots feel intuitive, are responsive and given that you miss, you are entirely to blame. At the end of the day, it is a sports game, so you have to rely more on your own skill rather than that of your AI.
Speaking of skills, the goaltenders, just like this year’s series, are better overall. In the game, they were polished further by granting them more blocking options. Now, goalies will use their body frame to prevent the puck from passing through subtle areas. In higher difficulties, scoring will require real tactic and advance maneuvers, so don’t rely on money shots.
While many believe that Hockey limits itself to being on ice, there is a lot going on in the backend of the sport. “Be a GM” is a good feature that reflects what happens behind the scenes. For years now, the feature has been a part of the NHL franchise games, but in this iteration, a lot has been improved on. In NHL 17, everything is under your control. You have full access over the price of food items and tickets, stadium upgrades and visuals, promotional budget and timing. If you want, you can even decide to completely relocate your team and start fresh!
Another yet important element to be considered is how the players themselves feel. Playing Hockey is a sport, but like any competitive sport out there, each one achieves milestones. Let it be your first goal, or first win in a series, those will be embedded in your mind forever. Be a Pro represents that idea and as you play along, you too will connect with you player and feel the need to celebrate those milestones. If they remember them for the rest of their lives, why can’t you share something similar?
There is also something new for fantasy players! Building your team is crucial and now, the new synergy system implemented might just be the solution that balance everything out. Similar to NHL 16’s Chemistry Dynamic, the Synergy System grant your players with bonuses given that you pair them with other players sharing certain trait. Bonus cards you win can be traded in to unlock premium rewards, such as legend cards.
Aside from playing the game, or being the manager and/or owner of a team, NHL 17 has a lot to offer its players. You can be part of clubs, remodel an arena as you please, edit and create your team and much more. Unlike most title out there, NHL 17 can’t be finished in an afternoon, it requires a lot of your time and effort. Playing online has its merits, but if you are planning on investing a lot of your time, you will unlock pretty cool stuff.
NHL 17 is all about putting your skill on the ice against other players. Professional players challenge one another to claim the position of the best team, and NHL 17 inspires you to do the same. Online, the fluidity is on par and games are smooth and competitive. It isn’t easy to be the best, but the game follows you around and teaches everything you need to know in order to ready yourself for the intense challenges awaiting. In a few words, NHL 17 is as mature as the series has ever been!
Never have I been a fan of sport titles, especially NHL, Madden and NBA. I like to watch my friends play occasionally, but when I am behind the controller, I feel like a worm waiting for its doom. Is it my lack of understanding and mastering the controls? What it is about the series that I despise isn’t relevant. What is, however, is how NHL 17 inspired me to give it a second chance.
From the get go, the game taught me the basics of the game in a subtle matter. While I was playing against the computer, the game felt slow – it was teaching me. Once, I go the hang of basic maneuvers such as shooting, passing, I was introduced to more complex tricks I honestly didn’t know I could achieve. Slowly, I got the hang of it and slowly, my hatred for the game began to fade away.
NHL 17 looks fantastic and feels very realistic. Playing against the AI and skilled players was troublesome for me since they took advantage of my lack of aim. Even the training wheel can’t always help me. Aside for the games, what inspired me to learn more about the sport was ‘Be a GM’. I prefer technical over practical and learning about the behind the scenes and micro managing the teams was something I really enjoyed. It felts fully developed and there is hardly anything you can add to it to complete it.