9.5 / 10
Since the early 90's when EA Sports introduced us all to the NHL franchise, on my then Sega Genesis, I've been in love with hockey games. Canadian born and having no real life talent on skates, becoming an all star in a virtual world was my only option. Unfortunately, I never really got that sense of individualism that is directly translated into how well you contributed to the rest of your team. Well the good folks over at EA Sports have finally given me that opportunity.
Like most gamers, I strayed to the 2K Sports hockey series for a few years and switched back to the EA power house last year since NHL 08 Introduced us to the game we had all been dreaming of. NHL 09 raises that bar higher and does NOT disappoint in anyway.
The new Be a Pro mode is every virtual hockey player's wet dream. Right away you'll be prompted to create your own self and set him up from head to toe. After a brief tutorial you'll quickly learn that in order to work your way up to the first line and become a pro, it's going to take some time. Playing this mode is similar to playing the actual game, the only difference is that you control yourself, and thats it. The camera angle switches to a more third person view as well.
Focusing on team play is essential here right down to passing the puck to timing line changes. Thats right, you'll even have to worry about when to come on and off the ice.
The flip dump pass and stick lift moves have benefited added to increase the realism and playability. There are new dekes including one handed dekes and more defensive stick control.
EA listened to all of our complaints about the physics engine on player's collisions and fixed it. Players appear to react much more naturally than in NHL 08 when they're hit with a body check or even a simple collision.
The graphics are pretty much the same as NHL 08 and the audio as impressive as ever.
On the downside, the camera in Be a Pro can be really annoying and can make finding the puck difficult. In addition, the framerates drop dramatically in pretty much every close up.
Overall, this game rocks and will easily be the best hockey game for at least one more year.