Top critical review
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Take It From A 17 Year NHL Addict, Don't Bother
on January 7, 2011
This game has a lot of improvements that sound great but simply don't do much but cause problems.
First of all, the new HUT mode is INCREDIBLY buggy. I've not even bothered to play it because of the reviews from friends, who can't believe EA would release such a product. Not only does it cause your system to freeze often, it also has bizarre game mode problems such as putting two goalies on the ice for your team and only 4 skaters or no goalie at all. There are also problems with the cards you have to buy or win, apparently. Avoid this game mode like the plague...
The regular game modes have some "improvements" that you may want to avoid. First off, broken sticks are nonsensical, sometimes resulting from a 5 foot touch pass. So Superman plays hockey, does he? The new physics engine is better in some ways but worse in others. There are more big hits but they seem to have little effect on the recipient. While the player physics are perhaps improved, the puck physics are horrible. Backhands are simply insanely bizarre. A 15 footer from the slot will never get on goal but you can do some backhand dekes and shots that completely defy the laws of physics. Backhands with one hand on the stick from behind your own body go inside a 6 inch opening just under the crossbar while you're not looking at the net.
Another annoying feature is that CPU goalies are too darn good on realistic scoring chances, even exceptional ones, UNLESS you resort to "cheese". Cheese is a term that refers to methods of scoring that work 80%+ of the time. I'm not going to say what they are but when used against you, you may lose your mind very quickly. An extension of the flawed, artificially inflated scoring is that it's harder to succeed as a human goalie as well. You can't control your rebounds or even see the puck when it's loose, even if only 18 inches in front of you. The auto cover puck feature has been removed as well and when you hit triangle on the PS3 to cover the puck, your goalie will often turn to the wrong direction and/or miss the puck altogether.
There's also an unseen momentum factor, making it possible for a team to erase a 3-0 deficit in the third period with unusual ease. This completely ruins games online most of the time. The passing is also unusually difficult in some position but too easy in others. For instance, 5 foot touch passes can very easily go the wrong direction entirely, while 50 foot breakout passes up the boards can be executed with precision by veterans like me. However these problems all pale in comparison to the dumbest AI I have ever seen. If you have a 3 on 0 breakaway with 2 cpu teammates, they'll literally just stand around and watch. They'll fall for the simplest dekes on defense and make terrible, awful passes to you but perfect passes to each other. They simply seem comatose out there...
Outside of the gameplay changes, a lot is the same, if not worse. The amount of times NHL 11 has frozen on me has exceeded the amount that NHL 10 and 09 froze on me, not slightly but by far. EA now forces auto save on it's customers, meaning the game automatically saves your progress at certain points, sounds good, right? However, it has frozen on me at least 50 games in offline be-a-pro mode and completely discounts my progress. I've had to replay so many games to get achievements/boosts, I wanted to tear my hair out! This was not a problem last year. The game also freezes 35% of the time when I go to edit my Be-A-Pro skater's attributes.
To sum it up, there are some small improvements but unless you HAVE to play the online EASHL mode (what a non-stop glitch fest it is), avoid this game like the plague.