Most hockey fans would agree that last year's "NHL 12" video game was pretty close to perfect. But that hasn't stopped the producers at EA Sports from trying to improve it.
This year, the improvements in "NHL 13" include even more realistic skating with more than 1,000 new animations. Player control is better, and the artificial intelligence more closely mimics what you'd see on the ice if you were watching a real game.
"NHL 13"★ ★ ★ ½
EA Sports, X360/PS3, $59.99
Those are all good things because, dare I say, this may be the closest thing to the NHL we'll see this season as the league lockout continues.
My favorite feature in "NHL 13" is the new "NHL Moments Live," which allows you to go back in time and re-create some of the most memorable events in the league's history. The feature is familiar to fans of other EA Sports games, and it's about time we saw it in the hockey franchise. With dozens of moments to choose from, tackling all of them can certainly keep you entertained -- and new moments are set to be added for the latest season (if that ever happens).
Picture this: It's the first game of the 1993 Stanley Cup playoff matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs. In the second overtime, you're challenged to score the game-winning goal as Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour from his viewpoint on the ice.
This year's game also takes the popular "Be a GM" mode online so you can play with friends, create your own NHL league and manage your own team. There's even a mobile app that allows you to make trades, check standings and connect with your friends in the league without even logging onto your game console.
"NHL 13" again features the spectacle of the Winter Classic outdoor game, giving fans the choice to replay last season's contest between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park or the previous season's game between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field. Of course, you can also choose whatever teams you want.
Overall, "NHL 13" builds on the features that have made it the best (and now only) hockey video game experience. There's plenty to enjoy if you just want to pick up the controller and play a few games as your favorite team. If you're looking for enhanced features that'll get you even closer to the action, "NHL 13" can do that, too.