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Video game review: 'NHL 13' eases a little lockout pain

Published: Thursday, Nov. 8 2012 1:00 p.m. MST

"NHL 13" isn't quite the same as playing real hockey, but it comes close.

EA Sports

With the best hockey event this side of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NHL's Winter Classic on New Year's Day, being canceled recently, there isn't much hope for hockey this year.

And boy do I miss it.

So I decided to borrow a neighbor's X-box 360 and check out the latest hockey release from EA Sports, "NHL 13."

It didn't cure the loneliness of the NHL lockout, but it came close.

The feature EA Sports has touted most in this game, called "true performance skating," is immediately noticeable. This game does not allow you to glide through defenders at top speed and carve up the ice at sharp angles, like I've been used to with older-generation hockey games. No, you actually have to build momentum, take the proper angles and take care of the puck.

EA says the feature introduces "physics-driven skating and over 1,000 new animations." Believe it.

And it doesn't hurt to be a superstar like Sidney Crosby. "NHL 13" replicates player ability better than any hockey game I've played.

True performance skating might be frustrating initially, but once you get used to it, you'll really appreciate this innovation. That's also when the speed of the game will really pick up and feel like an NHL contest.

In this high-def era, it's hard to be blown away by graphics anymore. But the detail and player animations in "NHL 13" are impressive, particularly when it comes to stick handling and shooting. In this game, the stars are allowed to be stars and elite players really stand out with their ability to freelance and be creative.

The new skating demands also make delivering a body check more challenging. At first, you can expect to miss a lot more players than you plow into. It's more true to form if you were on something like, say, ice skates.

Having the old ESPN hockey team of Gary Thorne and Bill Clement as announcers brought back a lot of hockey nostalgia from the late 1990s — you know, before all the lockouts.

Another cool feature, although one that probably doesn't have much shelf life, is the goalie control mode, where you can take control of the net minder. Just try not to get bored when the play moves to the other end of the ice, because it can flip quickly.

Once you get the basic controls down, which will take some time, you can graduate to the fun stuff like coaching adjustments and manual line changes.

There are more interactive features and game modes than you probably have time for. But it's cool to know they're there.

This game is good, but can we please move the negotiations along?

Aaron Shill is the editor of features and Mormon Times at the Deseret News.

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