As much as I enjoy playing sports video games, there’s always been a certain limit.
For the most part, picking up the latest annual title has never done much for me. If the changes from year to year merely boil down to a roster update, a fresh coat of paint and a new cover athlete, you can count me out. Yes, the Madden series gets a lot of grief about this (and I’m not a fan in the first place), but many offerings in a variety of sports have been guilty of the same offense.
If anything, I was more likely to pick up a sports game after it was a year old. The price would be about $40 cheaper, and the rosters were close enough that I could catch up on the transactions myself and not have to pay for the privilege. A lot of my early gaming experiences (read: when I was young and had no money) were based on getting maximum value out of a title, which might be part of the reason why I played NFL Quarterback Club 99 for about four years. Well, that and I thought it was hilarious that you could tackle your own team’s players.
Sports games have evolved in a lot of ways — more realistic graphics and physics, new in-depth modes and online play are a stark difference from the Tecmo Super Bowl days. But the industry seems to be mired in a holding pattern of two steps forward, one step back. For example, when the next-gen consoles were released a few years ago, games like NBA Live looked fantastic (you could see Shaq’s sweat dripping!), but the gameplay was awful. Titles like NBA 2K11 introduced a complex online system where you could use created players and team up with other players, then promptly yanked it out of 2K12.
I’m hoping NHL 13 is going to buck that trend.
This is a feature (if executed like it appears in the trailer) that Dave and I have wanted in sports games for a long time now, especially since I moved up to Flagstaff. Online dynasties? Yes please. 2K11 had some sort of shell like this, but the player who was joining in online couldn’t see stuff like created player names or season stats, and the connection was usually subpar at best. If EA can pull this off, it’ll be the most interesting franchise mode ever created. Just imagining 750 actual players in a comprehensive, multi-season mode gets me excited about hockey, and I haven’t really liked hockey since the lockout.
Back in the late 90s when the Coyotes were decent, it was pretty close to being my favorite sport. The Keith Tkachuk/Jeremy Roenick/Nikolai Khabibulin era was a solid time to be a fan even if Phoenix never managed to win a playoff series. Now, especially with the help of HD broadcasts on television, I find myself wanting to like the NHL again.
So the ball is in your court, EA. If you can pull this mode off successfully, you’ll get $60 from this consumer on opening day.