#2 of 2008: NHL 09

Posted December 26th, 2008 at 11:19 am

Top to bottom NHL 09 was probably the highest quality sports game released this year. Excellent gameplay, a great secondary mode in Be a Pro, and an amazing online play experience that expanded past anything offered in the past. EA Canada really delivered with both NHL and FIFA this year and it is hard to imagine how they’ll top them with the 2010 releases.

Much of what I explained with FIFA 09 fits with NHL 09. It is a very realistic and clean representation of the sport that has a level of accessibility lacking from most sports titles. Be a Pro plays a big part in this again as focusing on one individual allows for the game to be more simple to play for someone who isn’t as familiar with the sport. It also presents the ability for natural growth in both how to play but also knowledge of the sport. It is a fascinating thing how some of these games have the ability to teach in that regard. We know the NFL feels that Madden is successful in doing so, and we’ll see if interest in hockey and soccer will increase in the US due to how well their respective games are doing.

The big thing though with NHL 09 was the introduction of the EA Sports Hockey League. This took Online Team Play a step further with the addition of not only a Club system but by turning the game into more of an MMORPG. Having your own player, with your own name on the jersey and the ability to improve them brought in this personal feel that is unmatched and had much more draw than taking over a real life player.

I really can’t remember having as much fun in a concentrated amount of time as I did with the first couple weeks participating in the EASHL. It didn’t matter that we were losing, or that I wasn’t any good. It was just an amazing experience. The MMO look and feel was so unique in that setting. And checking after the whistle was always good for a laugh. It should also be mentioned that the online performance, just as with NBA Live 09 and FIFA 09 was flawless. With some tweaks and additions next year the EASHL could be even better.

Though NHL 09 presented the most enjoyable and innovative mode with the EASHL, it wasn’t able to grab the #1 spot. The longevity wasn’t as strong given that even the appeal of the EASHL wore off over time. Still NHL 09 was a fantastic game and deserves all the praise it has gotten. The franchise now dominates the market and is growing it by bringing in the more casual crowd and even those who don’t follow the sport. NHL 09 isn’t just a great game but has significance reaching beyond that.

#2 NHL 09
#3 MLB 08: The Show
#4 FIFA 09
#5 NBA Live 09
#6 NBA 2K9
#7 Madden 09
#8 Blitz: The League II
#9 NFL Tour
#10 Tiger Woods 09