NHL 14 is easily the most hard hitting hockey game that has been released in some time, loaded with a number of features including simulation modes for both player (link here) and owner (link here), online sessions between straight games and Seasons, plenty of Ultimate Team cards and hard-hitting action redefined by the Infinity Engine.
Not only that, but the game also tips its hat to the old-school, with an Anniversary Mode that pays tribute to the classic Sega Genesis/SNES game NHL '94. It has the most current NHL 14 technology in terms of player interaction and movement, but everything else gives a nod to the classic game, from the blue ice to the classic visual indicators and sound effects.
There are some slight changes you'll need to make to your style of play heading into Anniversary Mode, so we have a few tips that will help you out. Follow these and you'll become an old-school hockey pro in no time.
Take a Break, Ref
First off, you won't have to deal with any penalties. That means no icing, no offsides, none of that. There are times when the goalie will cover up, which leads to a face-off, but outside of that, Anniversary Mode moves at a rather fast pace.
Gameplay So Simple, It's 1994 All Over Again
In Anniversary Mode, the controls are rather simplified, though some general functions from NHL 14 remain intact. When it comes to offensive controls, the two main buttons you'll want to worry about are pass and shoot. Pass is rather obvious, but you'll want to make sure you have an open lane to your teammate. If someone gets in the way or no one's nearby, your player may send the puck flying loose, making it easy prey for an opponent.
When it comes to shooting, you don't need to worry about shots that much, since one button gets everything done for you. However, direction still plays a minor part in your shot-taking, so keep an eye open for a slot where you can aim the puck . Also, don't go crazy on a wild shot if you have players in your way, because they'll either deflect it or send it sailing over the goal. Wait for your moment, and then strike.
When it comes to defensive controls, you have two main functions. One button will switch between the player nearest to the puck – most of the time, anyway – while the other acts as your check button. Remember that momentum plays a huge part in Anniversary Mode, so if you're going full speed at someone and hit the button at the right time, you'll send them flying. If you don't, you'll miss and skate right past, having to regain your momentum and pursue them again.
There's a button available to instigate fights, and once you successfully get the gloves off, Anniversary Mode switches to a fighting system very similar to NHL 14's. In this regard, you'll use the right analog stick to execute your punches, while the left shoulder button acts as a duck/evade sort of button. Like in the original game, don't go for too many punches at once. Stick and weave, and throw one when it looks like your opponent is wide open. It'll make all the difference between laying someone out and being taken down yourself.
The Puck's Fast, But So Are You
Watch out for wild puck movement. There are situations where it'll go flying, whether a defensive man sends it flying around the corner of the rink or a shot comes off a goalie's glove, forcing you to scramble for it. The blue ice in Anniversary Mode actually makes it easy to see where the puck is, so watch for it. Switch to the closest available player so you can try and make a play for it. It could make all the difference between getting a crucial steal and giving someone a second shot on goal.
Take advantage of one-timers, because, for the most part, they work really well in Anniversary Mode. Try to lurk in one of the corners by the net, and watch for a player to become open. As they do, set up the pass to fire it over to them, then hit the shot button – you gain control as the puck goes right on them – and fire off the shot. The goalie won't even know what hit him if you do it the right way.
Get Your Friends
Finally, Anniversary Mode is an off-line affair only, so the best way to enjoy it is to invite friends over and play it with you. Granted, this is how the old versions of the game worked, so it shouldn't be that big of a problem. Plus, it'll allow you to practice up your trash talk.
NHL 14 is available now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.