Are You Ready for NHL 12 by EA Sports?

The game itself will probably release in late August, or early September, in plenty of time for hockey geeks across the world to play or simulate the 2012 season, to see how accurate the game is going to be in selecting the Stanley Cup Champion in 2012. 

Last year the EA Simulation picked the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup.  Close but no cigar guys.  Better luck this year.  Just goes to show that the human intangibles make the game that much more entertaining.  Ok, so 2KSports releases a version too, but I have always found them more cartoony than realistic, haven’t played them in several years though, so that may have changed, EA Sports is just the premier engine.   

One of my favorite additions to the game is the newly revamped Be A Pro Mode.  I haven’t really gotten into the online play and the advanced features of the new XBox game (I’m still playing NHL 11, and probably will for a couple years, unless they come out with a completely different platform again forcing me to change – unless I get tired of seeing Atlanta and Pheonix, but I might wait until realignment and teams finish moving around to buy the next one.)

I never select an NHL player, I always start with the Memorial Cup and see how well my play on the harder levels gets me drafted.  Which got me to thinking, do I really want to play for any team in this mode?  What teams wouldn’t I want my player drafted by?  Heres some of my likes and dislikes of the current game, and what teams I hit the reset button on when I see my name show up on their draft board. 

So interestingly enough, I played the Memorial Cup tournament several times with a the same player/position on the harder levels of the game, with various CHL teams, so that my success would vary and I would be drafted by any number of teams.  Couple of things I like and don’t like:

Dislike – Why do I always have to be from Vancouver?  There are plenty of players in the league from all over the world – since you have to program all those bio’s in, is it too hard to transfer those cities into options for where my prospect came from?  A little tacky tribute to the Olympics probably, but I am not that engrossed in an Olympic tournament to really care about that.  Let me pick where my prospect came from. 

Like – The addition of the Memorial Cup.  Past times that a similar mode have been included, you got to pick the team to put your prospect on, or the draft was arbitrary. 

Dislike – Why does my agent automatically assume that I would be happy with the initial offer a team makes me?  If you play in GM mode, you have to appease your draft picks and manage your salary cap.  Be A Pro Mode you basically get handed a deal and training camp starts.  No negotiating, no ability to ask for more, or demand a trade.  I know video games are limited in their capacity, but come on, its 2011 – let me involve more with the team through my agent.  Also – why can’t I select what teams would make me happy?  You take the GM mode again, and you can see what Free agents have an interest in your team – what gives with not giving me that option?

Dislike – My draft selection is based on a three game performance in the Memorial Cup?  Sounds fishy.  Expand the game and let me play with the CHL team in a prospect mode, with the goal of being drafted into the NHL after my time in the CHL has expired.  Spend all that time in the minors not to get drafted.  Oh well, start over and be a better player.  It might suck to put that much time into a game not to get drafted and continue playing, but guess what, happens in real life all the time. 

Dislike – Can we get to a point where we respect retired numbers?  I understand why your default number in the game is 11 (or 12, etc.), but honestly would fans in Buffalo, Edmonton, New York, Washington, or St. Louis stand for a rookie prospect skating with number 11 on the back of their sweater?  I know you can manually change the number, but come on programmers. 

Draft Selection – so what teams would you want to be drafted by?  I would love for my prospect player to be picked up by the Buffalo Sabres.  So far in ten attempts I haven’t been drafted by my team.  With the Sabres picking in the middle of the draft, its tough to predict how to play in the Memorial Cup to be selected there.  So, I honestly don’t mind playing with a different color sweater – unless that sweater is one of the following six:

1.  Atlanta.  Enough said.  They don’t exist anymore, so I don’t care how much they have a chance at winning ten games – I can’t let my dreamy looking prospect get drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers. 

2.  Carolina Hurricanes.  2006 still standout in your memory?  It does in mine.  Relocate yourself back to Hartford, and I will let my prospect play there.  Hell, even in real life I would pull an Eric Lindros if the Carolina Hurricanes tried drafting me. 

3.  New York Islanders.  Are the Islanders considered a team in the NHL right now?  With the city rejecting the Lighthouse project with that price tag, how much longer before we are talking about another franchise leaving a city for apparant greener pastures (maybe Atlanta has their eyes on Isles? – third times a charm right?).

4.  Vancouver.  This stems from something that occured before I was born (circa 1982).  The goal of the prospect mode is to become a Legend.  How do you become a Legend, well I think somewhere along the line you would have to add Champion to your resume to take on the title of Legend, and well, I wouldn’t want to help a member of the NHL Class of 1970 win the Stanley Cup (even in the fake world of EA Sports) before my beloved Buffalo Sabres. 

5.  Columbus Blue Jackets.  Nothing against the team, per se.  I would gladly play for a team that fires artillery inside their home building, if it wasn’t for the fact that the state of Ohio is so, boring.  Have you ever had to drive through Ohio, it seems like it goes on forever.  I now plenty of people that go through Canada just to avoid passing through that state.  Just plain annoying.  I wouldn’t want to put my friends and family through that as they drove in to see me play.  Not going to happen. 

6.  Edmonton.  Any amountof super success in the Memorial Cup and the Edmonton Oilers are on you like white on rice.  Just too easy to get drafted by them, so I would rather make it interesting. 

Hell, in real life there are plenty of teams that I wouldn’t want to be drafted by, in the digital world of XBox, I wouldn’t mind playing in other markets, just not these six. 

One other thing I don’t know about, and I would love to hear from anyone that might know, is do you always make the pro club out of training camp (in my research for this article and in my lack of time to play the game that much I haven’t gone outside of training camp save for the first few times I played it, and I was always on Edmonton.  Do you get to play in an AHL season trying to better yourself and get that nod from the parent club?  I would think so from the way the game is setup and the fact that the XP your player can accrue only counts for games that your prospect plays in the AHL and NHL.  I have never actually been bad enough to get sent to the minors. 

Tune in tomorrow as I explain what I would want fixed in future editions of the game, as well as what I don’t want them to change. 

Tags: AHL Atlanta Thrashers Be A Pro Mode Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes Columbus Blue Jackets Dreamy Ea Sports Edmonton Oilers Eric Lindros Memorial Cup NHL Nhl 11 Nhl 12 Nhl Draft Prospect Quebec Nordiques Vancouver Canucks

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