NHL 15 (PS4) Review

Broken ice.

Hockey always feels like the outlier in the EA Sports stable. It is rarely a bad game, but there always seem to be years where it gets left in the cold when it comes to features. NHL 15 is one of those years. Being the first iteration on the new consoles, it comes packed with so few features that it feels like it was rushed to market in six months. Thankfully, the on-ice action is still superlative, but the lack of features included upon release is troubling to say the least.

I love a good hockey game. My fondest memories still resonate from playing NHL 98 on my PC at LAN parties. The thrill of hitting the slapshot at the last second rings true in NHL 15. The actual game play in EA Sports’ latest still shines. Controls are familiar and responsive. Passes are easy to achieve, and checks hit harder than ever. This is a great-playing game.

The game really does look amazing.

Platforms: PS4, PC, XB1, 360, PS3
MSRP: $59.99
Price I’d pay: $39.99
Multiplayer: Online and local play

Much like the rest of the EA Sports lineup, game play is also highly customizable. Sliders can help with the difficulty, while other options can switch up certain mechanics to the player’s liking. For those simply wanting to play a hockey game, this is the best one in years. Everything is tailored to keep the on-ice action fun and interesting.

Visuals are also stellar; playing on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 showcase some fantastic presentation. Live action announcers appear before the game, and the commentary is fantastic. The arenas look better than they ever have, and the new animations and facial captures look great. This is one fine-looking title. There are still some occasional weird animations, but the details are stunning. Flowing jerseys and decent crowds really round out one fine looking hockey title.

Presentation is one of the areas where the game actually steps up. The integration with NBC makes it feel like an actual broadcast; more so than in any past iteration. The real life commentators against game backgrounds is jarring at first, but no creepier than digital Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in Madden. Some of the commentary can be off at times, OK downright ridiculous, but the attempt at making it more organic is definitely appreciated.

Where NHL 15 falls apart is its omission of some traditional features. I like playing season mode in most sports games. Taking one team from the beginning to the end of a season is how I prefer to play. NHL 15 makes this much more convoluted than it needs to be. There is no standard season mode. Instead I had to play Be a GM Mode in order to accomplish what I wanted. Also, the online portion has been completely removed, which is baffling.

I am guessing neither guy here is named Rick.

Much like Madden NFL 15, online team play has also been removed. Hockey League is also absent, leaving only standard online matches to play. It is just mind-boggling why EA Sports would omit the best parts about playing online in NHL.

At the time of this writing all of these features are still missing, although EA has claimed they will be patching some of them in at later dates. Still, out of the box this game feels stripped of what makes the series so great. This isn’t uncommon when debuting on new platforms, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing.

Even with everything missing NHL 15 is still a great playing game. The on-ice action is still hard to top, and if EA does patch in all the missing features, this could end up being the best in the series in years. Sadly, as it stands right now there is too much missing to make it feel like a complete package.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • On-ice action is great
  • Visuals are stellar
  • Solid presentation
  • Severe lack of modes
  • No online team play
  • Some stiff animations
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.