Forget FIFA, forget PES, forget Madden, NBA Live or NBA 2K because NHL 19 might just be my favourite sports game of the year.
They say form is temporary but class is permanent and for EA Sports’ NHL 19 that old adage rings truer than ever.
Gamers of the 80s and 90s will no doubt have fond memories of slapping pucks past 16-bit goalies and seeing your star player ditch his gloves to slug it out in a fist fight with your rival.
Well the fun is back in NHL 19 thanks chiefly to new game modes that allow you to play on outdoor rinks, online and offline. New gameplay technology means skating boasts more acceleration, action, speed, and responsiveness than previous titles.
NHL 19 uses the same animation engine as Madden and FIFA and it shows.
The new pond hockey mode for me was the crowning achievement and makes NHL 19 infinitely fun and easily accessible to newbies and all hands alike.
Controls are fluid and frankly excellent again proving easy for pick up and play gamers but with plenty of depth for the more hardcore hockey gamer.
It is very difficult to transmit the beauty and spirit of what is a minority sport in the UK but NHL 19 manages to do that and more, almost demanding to be added to your game collection whether you are a fan of the sport/the long-running game franchise or not.
My experiences online have been a bit hit and miss which was the only big negative but I am hoping that will improve with time and more players getting involved.
Veteran NHL series fans may pick more holes in the offering than newbies it must be said but these are minor gripes in the grand scheme of things.
Not a hockey fan? No problem. Don’t know the rules? No problem. Worried you will struggle to get your head around it because you haven’t played since the good old days? You won’t.
I would go as far as to say never before has a sports title delivered a game that is as good a serious simulation for hardcore fans as it is arcade, pick up and play fast fun for newcomers and NHL returners.
It sounds cliche but NHL 19 really does have something for everyone. Packed full of brilliant game modes and finished with the usual finesses and polish of an EA Sports title, this is possibly the best NHL iteration yet.