NHL 13 - Editor's Choice (Preview)

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Release Date: 17/09/2012

Editor's Choice

NHL 13 comes to Xbox 360 and PS3 at GAME

This month saw the release of Electronic Arts' John Madden 13, a franchise that got a much-needed makeover, and will soon see the equally well-tweaked FIFA 13. And now the publisher has reworked another one of its crown jewels, NHL 13.

Unlike Madden (although that needed a nip and tuck... or at the very least some serious dental work), the NHL franchise has stood the test of time during its various incarnations. But EA seems to be in feisty form, perhaps smarting from naysayers who claim the company enjoys treading water a little too much - so they've gone and made a seismic change to this series too.

And the back-of-the-box bullet point that EA has dreamt up to describe this huge change? "True Performance Skating". Yep, it's meaningless in itself but in practice, the penny (or puck in this case) is quick to drop; instead of the somewhat arcadey, 'spin-o-rama' movement and control of the players in past versions, you now have real-world physics to contend with, meaning no more gravity-defying showboating.

True Performance Skating and other improvements in NHL 13 on Xbox 360 and PS3 at GAME

That might sound like as much fun as being on the receiving end of a burly, toothless Canadian, but with practice, the new system slips and slides into place perfectly, making each match feel more individual, dynamic and in need of real planning, not mentalist button-mashing. And with the revamped AI, single player games are now far more engaging.

Away from the matches, and you'll find the usual stalwarts of the series - single games, tournaments and entire careers to name but a few - plus two new modes, NHL Moments Live and GM Connected, the former dropping you straight into a scenario from a classic NHL game of yesteryear; the latter going online and letting up to 750 players create a stat-packed league where you can commission, manage or simply be a player.

As with Madden then, the franchise feels reinvigorated and improved - and for those quaking in their skates at the moment about the very future of the NHL itself, this can only be good news...

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