NHL 10 First Impressions (X360) *UPDATED

Woke up earlier than usual this morning to pick up NHL 10 at Microplay. I turned in NHL 09 to get a rebate and got a nice 1,50$ off... Hey at least I got rid of my old and now useless copy right?

After some practice mode and 3 online ranked games, I'm sorta pissed at EA.

First of all one of the big problems with the online gameplay since NHL 07 had been the terrible online defensive AI and it breaks my heart to say that it's still very much a problem in this year's game. In 3 games (I'm 1-1-1 now), I got scored on at least 4 times because of my AI defenseman staring at the ice like a retard instead of playing the loose puck. There's one goal where Markov (I was MTL) literally stood there doing nothing, almost frozen, while the other player passed it in front of his stick to a wide open man for the one-timer.

Now I know you're gonna say: "Well Phil, this wouldn't have happened if you had taken control of your Dman instead of letting the AI play it". The thing is, EA promised better defensive AI this year and so far I haven't seen it other than better CPU awareness WHEN YOU PLAY AGAINST IT, not on your own team (which was and still is the biggest problem imo).

AI issues aside, the NHL team did a good job at making scoring more difficult. Gone are the cheese goals (wraparound, shortside wrister, curve shot... you name 'em) in favor of much more realistic ones. Scoring on rebounds is a big thing this year, as it should be. Point shots feel more powerful than ever, and the goalie will actually try to look through screens while you cycle the puck on the powerplay... awesome.

The game also feels a lot slower than NHL 09, thanks to brand new gameplay modes. I didn't really check which mode I was playing on, but it might have been the new "hardcore" mode because my second-rate players really felt slow and terrible, while speedy wingers easily breezed through them. Match-ups are extremely important in that mode, so that's something new to master as well.

Speaking of game modes, one of the biggest beefs I have with this edition is the lack of new ones. Let's be honest, EA didn't have a whole lot of work to do on the core gameplay. Sure there are a few tweaks here and there, and they do make the gameplay better for the most part, but it's not a year's worth of work by any stretch of the imagination. With that in mind, why the fuck are there only a few new game modes? Online Practice? Nope. Online Battle For The Cup? Nope. 3v3? Nope. Mini games? Next year, maybe. I understand that there's obvious pressure from the guys in suits to keep options open for the next editions but those seem fairly easy to implement and should have made the game this year, if not last year.

I'm tired of typing, here's a list of the good, the bad and the ugly from my (very limited) experience so far. I haven't tried Be A Pro, Be A GM and those other fantasy modes yet so this is only for the core gameplay.

The Good
- Board play adds realism and defensive/offensive options
- Cheese goals are gone;harder to score; more rewarding
- Goalie animations are much improved
- Gameplay feels more refined
- New gameplay modes add new challenges
- Playoffs atmosphere feels awesome

The Bad
- Framerate suffers at times
- Lack of new game modes is frustrating
- No Online Battle For the Cup!!! WHY
- Not enough new commentary from Bill and Gary
- Goal celebrations still feel bland
- New passing controls can be annoying, but I suppose it takes time getting used to

The Ugly
- Online Team AI makes you want to break your controller

At first glance, this isn't worth 70 bucks. Feels more like a DLC than a brand new game... But I've only played for an hour or so.

I'll update my impressions as I play more games.

-----------------------------------

Btw, I was recently contracted to do a microsite for the NHL. Check it out below!

http://winterclassictickets.nhl.com/

-----------------------------------

Update:

Played some more games yesterday and I guess I was extremely unlucky with my defensive AI for the first few games as it did a much better job this time around. I guess you sort of have to let it do its thing and pray it doesn't screw up. I'm getting sorta demolished in ranked online games; hadn't played NHL 09 for a few months and this is a much more difficult game. Not getting any bounces so far, either.

Funny (or sad) thing is that EA still hasn't fixed the "stick through the skates" glitch where you can just dangle your way to the goal without any interruption. You'd think that with so much attention put on gameplay this year they would at least attempt to fix this. Guess not.

If you read this EA, this better be fixed in the first update.

Btw, here's a save someone had in the game. Sick.