NHL 11 Review

NHL 11 (Available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1-12
Genre: Sports
Publisher: EA
Developer: EA Canada
Release Date: September 7th, 2010
PSN/Xbox Live: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: There’s nothing like a good hockey game to bring the family together. Nothing here would stop anyone from enjoying NHL 11. It’s also stunning on an HDTV, so there are no more excuses not to have an HD set.

The Great:

EA Sports Hockey League is better than sex! (Can we really have a Parent Talk section and a sex joke in the same article?)  [Editor’s comment – apparently we can.] Jokes aside, this year’s online mode is the best yet. If you like hockey, there’s absolutely no reason to avoid this.  I’ve enjoyed EASHL since it was introduced in ’09 and it’s come a long way. It’s all about skill and smart play. Marc and I aren’t infallible, yet extremely tough to beat thanks to our impenetrable defence. Our system is simple: I win the face-offs, he ensures our control of the puck. We win 90% of our games with a 1-0 score. Thankfully most glitch goals from ’10 have been fixed, making our team even better. There are still lucky bounces here and there, but that’s just like the real game.

The most realistic videogame hockey experience ever! The skating is fluid; checks are no longer plentiful, but still a huge part of the game. Passing is harder to execute, especially for long-range.  It’s a tough game, but hardcore hockey fans have wanted this forever.  It’s been pleasant to team up with my brother-in-law Marc, as he’s the perfect example of how this game grows on you. He went from being a liability to a crucial member of our team in just a few hours. If you’re willing to invest the time, you could have one of the best co-op/competitive games currently available on the market.

It’s a freaking RPG! I know COE’s new review format is only meant for one ‘great’ aspect, but screw it, I’m breaking the rules. You can improve every aspect of your player(s). Upgrading is not only cool, it’s necessary. This has been present in NHL games for a while, but before, anybody could crush an opponent into the boards or score one-timers from the blue line. Now, you have to know your role.  Since I’m a centre, I opted to max my face-off skills. That makes my skater weak in a lot of areas but means my team has possession of the puck 90% of the time after a draw. Since I love scoring, I sided with more accuracy and power for my shots.  You can also pay attention to defensive attributes like shot blocking, strength and body checking techniques.  It’s wise to maintain a diversity of strengths and weaknesses on your team.  Customization is addicting, and that’s a big plus.

The Good:

+ The new face-off system. You no longer randomly flick the analog stick and hope for the best.  You now have to go to your back hand, lift your opponent’s stick or run into him and push the burnt biscuit to your D with your skate.

+ The best visuals yet. It’s expected every year, but a noticeable step up from ’10. Better facial expressions and near life-like player models make ’11 the prettiest hockey game out there.

+ All the CHL teams and players from are included for the first time in a videogame. You can now play as your favourite OHL, WHL or LHJMO. You can even play for the Memorial Cup at the start of Be a Pro. Sweet!

The Bad:

– Screening goaltenders is now practically useless.  Goalies stop the puck perfectly whether they see it or not. In the real world (and NHL 10), goaltenders would anticipate shots when screened, make themselves look big and go for the percentages. Here, they know exactly when and where it will go. It’s a bit cheap because screen goals are the most common in real hockey.

– Broken sticks are fun, and it’s neat that you can give yours to a teammate if he loses his. However, why does it happen every shift or two?  A bit overkill if you ask me.

– The new EA Ultimate Hockey League is too complicated, and for hardcore fans only.

– Players willing to spend real money on cards or booster packs have an annoying competitive edge.

The Ugly:

– The achievements/trophies. Spend eight hours in Practice Mode? Where is the fun (or challenge) in that?

The Lowdown

NHL 11 will remain in your 360 or PS3 till ’12 releases. It’s the best NHL and truly worthy of the National Hockey League license. Hockey is one of the most entertaining, fast-paced sports, and this game does it justice. There are shortcomings, but the pros far outweigh them.  Get out there and buy NHL 11!

20 thoughts on “NHL 11 Review”

  1. Very nice review Steven and your record is pretty sweet too lol. I play on buying the game next week and I’m not sure which version to get tho :(

    I do have NHL 10 on the Xbox 360, but I have not really played the game much btw. Time is always an issue for me, but I will try and play 11 a good amount if I can. I want to play the Ultimate mini game because it looks like a lot of fun to me.

  2. Great review! I think I agree with all your goods and bads!

    UHL is pretty complicated. After spending lots of hours into it, I get it now, but I don’t enjoy it… at all….

    And yeah, the trophies are ridiculous. The ones where you need to buy DLC or spend an eternity to unlock them are pretty bad too. Although with the PS3 sharing account, I got all of them from taking my friend’s account wich he spent over 40$ of DLC with.

    I’ll let you know our record next time I log on. I’m pretty sure it’s at least double yours lol. Our best player had over 150pts last night! Over a hundred of those points are goals!

  3. How many games do yous play? And how many guys are on your team? Ours only have Mal and I so we don’t really play more then 6-7 games a day. We’ve only played 4 games in the last 2 days.

    How can you get 150 points in one night? That’s in how many games?

  4. Whoa, whoa, whoa! I didn’t mean in one night. I said last night as in I didn’t play the day I wrote it so it was probably over 160 by the time I wrote that lol.

    I didn’t play last night cause I was celebrating my gf and I’s 3 year anniversary.

    So I checked our record today and it’s 57-25-6
    We’re 7 or more on the team but it always changes around who plays. Except for our crazy guy with 186pts lol.

  5. Ok, so it’s not in one night lol. I currently have 34 goals and 34 assists in 48 games. So that’s 68 points…. not as good as your friend there lol, but still a pretty good points per game ratio.

    It’s night and day compared to last year. Mal and I’s club was playing for 0.200 at best.

  6. This year, we’re playing for almost 0.750! I think it will slow down a bit as we’re in the elite division and people have figured out the values of having a high faceoff bar in their stats. I don’t win 90% of the faceoffs anymore, some games I’m even in the 40-50% bar now.

    What about you Pat? Want to share your personal stats and strenghts of your character?

  7. Yeah I have two things to say about that.

    1. It’s normal that you start losing face-offs and games when your rank gets higher. Whenever we reach over 100 rank overall we start losing. It just makes sense. The other teams get tougher and spent more cash on upgrades.

    2. My friend with like 40+$ of upgrades has overall 76 I think. As for me, I’m the highest on the team with 86. The difference is he puts all his stats to a few things that’ll help him out like you mentionned in your review. He’s got the speed, faceoff and shot power/accuracy. I divided my stats in a more balanced fashion. For exemple I put upgrades to discipline, strenght, def. awareness. Things that no one would even bother with. But I really find that shot blocking and discipline helps for defense. If you have no discipline at all and you try to lift your opponent’s stick you’ll get a penalty. I don’t.

    But all in all it comes down to what you said in your review about trying to have certain types of players in your team. We got 2 defense players. My partner’s got the shot power while i’ve got the passing. (helps to reach the damn cherry pickers)

  8. Yeah I agree man. I only have an overall of 80 and I’m now on my 3rd card which means I had 1600 points to spend since the beginning. I put it all on Shot power and accuracy for offence, defence was faceoffs and discipline (which is really cheap and easy to boost, the cost always stays at 10). Finally upgraded my speed and accel.

    We lost 4 out of 6 games yesterday, we’re now back in the Pro division. Hopefully, we’ll do better today.

  9. Steven and Pat…it sounds like you guys are having a BLAST playing online. Since Pat has the PS3 version, I thought Steven did as well. I don’t know which version I want to buy still. One of my MMO buddies (hardcore San Jose Sharks fan) wants to play with me. But, the Xbox 360 is a much better system for online gaming.

    What to do, what to do

  10. I’ll let you know right now… one thing that really sucks on the PS3 is that EA never bothered to fix the headsets right. Sometimes you just hear mumbling from the mic. Other games you just don’t hear your friends at all. And then sometimes everything works perfectly.

    I hate that!

  11. Well I bought the PS3 version even tho I have NHL 10 on the Xbox 360. I rather have the 360 game, but a buddy only has the PS3 :(

    Still, the game will be great no matter what, and it sucks the headset does not work 100% Pat

  12. Just a test comment to figure out where this limitation bug is coming from. It was locked to 12…but now we’re up to 14 comments. 15 if this one is displayed.

  13. Hey Pat, are you still playing this? As for me I just got my legend card and now have 181 goals and 125 assists in 170 games for a grand total of 306 points. We won 2 games yesterday out of 2 and we’re currently 17-11-4 this season. We started with a 7 game winning streak but have lost more then won recently. Still having a blast though, I’ve neglected all my other games because of that.

  14. lol,

    I don’t neglect other games for NHL 11. I just play when I see my friends online. I myself haven’t played much of it lately…

  15. When I finally retire from the world of gaming, this is the kind of game I could play for the entire year….

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