NHL is looking puck-er again.
When I fired up my PS4 to review NHL 17 it brought back so many great childhood memories but this time there was not that predictable feeling of disappointment which usually greets next gen iterations of cult classics.
That’s because NHL 17 arrives as a sleek and altogether puck-er (sorry had to get it in somewhere!) installment in this much-loved series from EA Sports.
EA’s big test with NHL is how to bring a predominantly North American sport to the masses in this day and age?
It’s not an easy task and ice hockey faces its own battle for the market share with other more popular sports in real life.
Back in the Megadrive and SNES days you didn’t have to know about ice hockey or play it or even live in a country where you could play it.
The video game was revolutionary back then and all most kids needed to know was that at any given moment a rough challenge could lead to the gloves famously coming off and a full blown punch-up ensuing.
Nowadays much more is needed to get gamers to part with their hard earned cash for a minority sport simulation.
NHL17 relies on the tried-and-trusted features that make the game great and adds the necessary polish and tweaks so it sits comfortably as a modern sports video game simulation.
Newcomers to the series will appreciate the amount of options at your fingertips but perhaps less so the difficulty in terms of picking up and playing.
It is tough to get used to initially but does offer veterans mature gameplay that addresses several bug bears from previous games.
NHL is a solid and true to the sport video game but outside of the hockey fans and sports lovers EA will struggle to attract the numbers which come naturally to the likes of FIFA and the various basketball and NFL franchises. That is not the game’s fault, though, more a wider issue that the sport itself must tackle.
The only thing I can say for those pondering whether to plump for this year’s offering is that it is well worth the money even if it is only for the occasional nostalgic bash with friends online.