Getting out onto the ice to play hockey isn’t everyone’s thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sport in other ways. Some do this by attending hockey games in person or watching them on TV, while others might prefer to read everything they can about the sport. Others, though, take a different approach: video games. Thanks to EA Sports, video games based around the National Hockey League (NHL) have been released for decades, making it easy to play without having to bundle up.
Though they can’t all be named, here are some of the best NHL video games EA Sports has released.
NHL ‘94 is not only one of the greatest sports video games of all time, but one of the best video games period. Twenty-seven years after its release, star of the game Jeremy Roenick still has discussions with fans about his virtual self. NHL ‘94 is a 16-bit video game fondly remembered by fans of the sport and actual NHL players alike. From its realistic organ music to realistic hockey moves like one-timers and dekes, the EA Sports game brought about new and unique improvements to the NHL game that makes it unforgettable.
NHL 2K2 brought about a dash of realism to the game series that the others before it didn’t. The rosters, in particular, had more finesse to them, as each hockey player within the game acted like he would in reality. This made them feel like individuals, rather than images on a screen with a real person’s name attached to them. The graphics and character AI greatly improved as well, with the goalies reacting to and recovering from the player’s shots in a way that makes it more challenging to score a goal, but more rewarding when it happens.
Fans of the NHL games were quick to love NHL ‘11, particularly ones that hailed NHL ‘10 as the greatest hockey video game to exist. The physics engine was completely reinvented for this game, letting the player score goals from anywhere on the ice or break their sticks while blocking or taking a shot. Though the gaming mechanics were more true to how ice hockey is played in reality, then-marketing director for EA Sports David Lee said that, through NHL ‘11, they were “actually teaching people how to play hockey through the use of our game.”