It has been a long time since EA Sports' NHL series made its way onto a Nintendo system, but hockey fans rejoice, the wait is nearly over as NHL Slapshot is set to make its debut for the Wii and I got a chance to play it at EA's booth at E3.
The very first thing I noticed about NHL Slapshot is that is has a much more distinct 'arcade' feel then its predecessors, with a heavy emphasis on big hits and slapshots, and is much looser on the more technical aspects of the game. However, that doesn't mean you can't find a deep hockey experience here, as it is possible to play a match with all the rules intact.
The biggest departure from what was seen in past NHL games are the new motion controls that make use of the new mini-hockey stick peripheral to accurately recreate the motions of shooting a puck or delivering a big hit. This control scheme worked well in most cases, however I found that unless you performed a rather elaborate movement it went unnoticed by the controller.
The game will also feature an all new mode titles 'Peewees to Pros' which will allow player to start their hockey career as a 12 year old and move all the up through the ranks until you reach the grand stage that is the NHL.
The game is also wonderfully presented. The graphics are far above any other hockey experience that has been seen on the Wii and the game clearly has the EA Sports level of polish. It's just a question of whether or not the control scheme will be refined in order to make this a game hockey fans on the Wii can really appreciate.
Look for NHL Slapshot to hit stores on September 7th, 2010. But in the meantime here is some artwork from the Peewee to Pro mode featuring none other than the Great One, Wayne Gretzky.
Oh and by the way, when I went to play the demo I was handed the controller and put in control of the Chicago Blackhawks against who else but my Philadelphia Flyers. Way to rub salt into an open wound EA...