A tiny bit of background about me: I love video games but I don’t enjoy sports. I don’t follow them at all and I couldn’t name you five athletes that play organized sports. I know that baseball has home runs, football has touchdowns, and hockey has goals. That’s about the width and breadth of my knowledge. Consistent with my lack of interest in sports, a lack of interest in sports games has always been a natural side-effect. My distaste for sports has been mostly passive, but at times, it’s been actively aggressive – especially during football season.
This review, however, isn’t about that. This review is more about how my anti-sports walls were recently crumbled, if ever so slightly. I have a decently sized community of friends I game with, and the majority of them are sports fans. The one game most of them agree upon playing, typically without fail, is hockey. After years of hearing them play and talk and grouse about it in the Xbox Live party, my intolerance finally crumbled this week.
I started playing EA’s NHL 2016, and I had no expectations when I fired it up. I have no previous experience with EA sports games, and the last sports game I played was Ice Hockey for the NES back in 1989. Needless to say, I came into the game like a babe in the woods. I can say, as a matter of fact, there’s a lot to this game. There’s a decent learning curve to understand the nuances of the title, but I found I could pick it up and tap a few buttons to play with varying degrees of effectiveness.
NHL 2016 has a number of game-play modes for fans to choose from. As I am woefully unfamiliar with previous iterations of the game, I couldn’t tell you what’s new and what’s a holdover from last year. While the game can be incredibly complex (and you’ll have to learn those complexities to be GOOD at the game), even someone with no experience can jump online and skate with their friends with very little practice. I learned very quickly that hockey doesn’t allow players to skate full-speed into opponents and level them to the ice like a Mack Truck. Food for thought!
After playing NHL 2016 for about 12 hours, there hasn’t been a revelation for me to become a sports fan. I’m not going to run out and buy a Black Hawks jersey and watch the games on TV. It’d take a lot more than a video game to drive me to that. However, I will keep playing NHL 2016. The game-play is exciting and addictive. There’s a great deal to learn about the game and a ton of modes to try out. It’s a social game that I can play and learn strategies with my friends. If asked, at this point, I’d suggest to others who don’t follow sports to give a try. You might be surprised like I was.
Final score for NHL 2016: 3.5 out of 5.