NHL 18 Plays It Safe, But Is Still A Top-Notch Game

NHL 18 Buy Now $59.99
7.5
  • Playstation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Sports
2017-09-15
nhl-18-review
NHL 18 is a great game, but doesn't do much to stand apart from last year's offering EA

EA’s NHL franchise has continuously delivered game after game that shows how passionate about hockey the development team is. Every year, new features are added, more customization options are found and new ways to play are included. While that remains true for NHL 18, the additions aren’t as groundbreaking or entertaining as in previous entries.

The biggest addition to NHL 18 is the Threes game mode. This new mode takes a more arcadey approach to hockey, including a lax calling of penalties and a “Money Puck” that can earn you more than one point per goal or even take points away from opponents. This new mode is somewhat fun, but it doesn’t feel like it knows what it wants to be.

In my preview of the Threes mode, I mentioned how it reminded me of the NHL Hitz line of games. The over-the-top presentation, with flames shooting out whenever a goal is scored and the added comedic commentary all seem to harken back to the Hitz games. However, the action still largely feels like an EA Sports NHL game with different rules. It doesn’t do enough to stand out as a unique mode, but instead adds just enough to not be the same hockey game as the other, more standard modes.

Outside of Threes, the new additions are more of what we’ve received over the past few years. This means more customization options, more moves to attempt on both the offensive and defensive sides of the puck and improved AI to keep up with players. The new moves are taught with an improved tutorial section, giving beginner and advanced tips to players who want them. It does seem a bit unnecessary to include real-life videos to demonstrate in-game techniques, but it’s cool to see how real world moves are applied in the virtual game.

While the new additions don’t really do much to excite me, the fundamental hockey gameplay of NHL 18 is still too good to ignore. Skating down the ice and launching a wrist shot into the top corner of the net is exciting every time I pull it off. The extra customization and creation options are really just fancy decoration on top of an already great foundation.

NHL 18 also continues to look and sound fantastic. The commentators didn’t repeat that many lines while I played, offering new insight to each game. The crowd wasn’t jarringly unrealistic as many sports games tend to have, and the presentation continues to impress, using real footage of the commentators before a game to really set the mood. The graphics are as crisp as ever, which is expected from the latest EA Sports games.

However, I will say the NHL soundtracks have never impressed and NHL 18 continues to provide some lackluster in-game songs. These are the kinds of tracks you don’t like, but manage to worm their way into your brain until you can’t stop singing along. It might be best to have your own supply of music or a podcast to listen to while playing, especially if you know you’ll be in menus for extended periods of time such as when you’re creating a team or customizing your EASHL arena.

If you’re looking for the next big breakthrough in NHL games, NHL 18 isn’t the game you want. The biggest addition is the take-it-or-leave-it Threes mode, with everything else just elements that add to an already high pile of customization and creation tools.

Ultimately, if you like hockey, or haven’t played a hockey game in a few years, NHL 18 is the best offering yet. It can’t be matched in terms of presentation, gameplay and realistic hockey action.

So what do you think? Are you excited to start playing NHL 18 when it releases on PS4 and Xbox One? Are you curious to try out the new Threes mode for yourself? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

REVIEW SUMMARY
NHL 18
7.5
NHL 18 Plays It Safe, But Is Still A Top-Notch Game
NHL 18 doesn’t do much to stand out from last year’s entry, but it’s still a great game.
  • Great hockey gameplay
  • Fantastic presentation, as always
  • Threes mode is lackluster
  • Nothing new that excites
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