NHL 09 Review

We hit the ice with EA's latest NHL instalment.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 14th October 2008

NHL 09

  • Developer: EA Sports
  • Publisher: EA Sports
  • Release Date: 26th September 2009

Every year EA bring out the usual line-up of sports titles, so the release of NHL 09 probably comes as no real surprise to anyone. What is surprising is that EA seem to find a way to improve on or add new features to their sports games every year and this is exactly what they’ve done with NHL 09.

EA Sports games are usually jam packed with various different playing modes, features and content and NHL 09 is no different offering hockey fans various playing options as well as updated team and players stats.

The biggest major new addition to NHL 09 is the “Be a Pro” mode that has been featured in past EA titles such as FIFA 08. As the game starts you are asked to create a customised character that will be your “pro”, although you can also play the games “Be a Pro” mode as a real life player.

When playing the “Be a Pro” as your created player you start off in the minor leagues with your teams affiliate team. Here you are set objectives of what your coach expects of you and gain experience points to improve your players stats as you play to earn a place in the NHL. You will have to progress your way through the teams lines, earn the respect of the coach and chairman by matching your performance with the clubs expectations until finally your chosen NHL team drafts you into the plans.

The other main single player game mode in NHL 09 is of course Dynasty mode, here you choose your favourite team and guide them through a regular season and hopefully through the playoffs and onto Stanley Cup success. Playing in the Dynasty mode you also have to perform all the other tasks a general manager would such as trade and draft players and manage your team’s lines and so on.

NHL 09 also feature all the usual game modes you would expect to find, such as tournament play, quick matches, shootout mode and practice. There’s also all the online modes you would expect as well as 6 versus 6 matches with players taking up a position each.

The game features more refined version of the analogue stick control system that was used in NHL 08 with new defensive moves available to help you protect the puck and whilst these do serve you quite well during play, I still found the system fairly difficult to get to grips with, especially when taking shots under pressure.

As with most EA Sports titles NHL 09 features a learning AI system that adjusts how AI teams play depending on how you approach the game. This results in the game offering a decent challenge even on the games rookies setting. This may frustrate newcomers to the series but will keep seasoned players on their toes requiring you to try and keep things fresh.

As we’ve come to expect from EA Sports titles, NHL 09 looks stunning player models are highly detailed with excellent facial detail. Animation is also top notch and with player’s moving very fluidly, even when you smash them into the side boards and fall flat on their backs. Arenas also feature a good level of detail with a realistic looking crowd, and reflections on the ice and glass.

The game features commentary from Gary Thorne and Bill Clement which is spot on for the most part and gives an accurate reflection of what is happening in a game, however it does get a little repetitive during the course of a match. Other sound affects in the game are all rather authentic everything from the cheering of the crowd to the thumps and crashes when players smash into the boards. The game also features a pretty good soundtrack with hits from Billy Talent, Bullet for my Valentine and Panic at the Disco.

NHL 09 provides another solid playing experience that will challenge newcomers and seasoned NHL gamers, The “Be a Pro” mode is an excellent and welcome addition to the franchise that makes it worthwhile upgrading to this latest instalment.

Review Score: 8.4/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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