Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: September 15th, 2015
ESRB: E 10+
Reviewed on Xbox One, also available on PS4
The NHL series of video games published by Electronic Arts is quietly one of the best sports franchises in the business. It has, historically, been a very stable franchise that has avoided some of the dips and stumbles in quality that have plagued “other titles” (I’m talking about Madden for those keeping score at home). NHL 15 missed the net last year by stripping several of the popular game modes out of the game entirely and dumbing a lot of them down.
The good news for us all is that NHL 16 has fixed a LOT of that by bringing back a lot of those same modes and seemingly improving everything across the board.
The addition that will have the biggest impact for families is the On-Ice trainer. This amounts to an in game coach that will help teach players how to play NHL 16 AND the deeper strategies of the game of hockey as you progress. This is done through visual cues and iconography that will help tell you what you should be doing and reward you when you do things correctly. This combined with the generally forgiving controls make NHL 16 one of the most accessible sports simulators I have ever played.
The “Be a Pro” mode are another highlight because they work as advertised. The Be a Pro mode lets you create yourself (male or female) and work your way from the Junior league all the way to being a successful NHL player. Your player grows from game to game based on the skills you use. This is also a great way for younger Hockey fans to learn the nuances of professional hockey.
Family Gaming Assessment
Sports simulator games like NHL 16 all follow the same rules regarding family appropriateness. The games are built to simulate the experience of watching the sport on television. If you would let your child watch a hockey game on tv, then this game should not be a problem.
NHL 16 is, however, an online game so the standard caveat applies. You will either need to disable voice chat or be prepared to discuss whatever horrific language your child’s opponent uses.
I found NHL 16 to be much more forgiving from a controls perspective than the other sports simulator games. There are, obviously, deeper strategies involved, but the act of controlling your players does not require anywhere near the number of buttons that Madden does.
This is an amazing sports title and is, frankly, good enough to be a sound introduction to anyone who has even a passing interest in the NHL.