NHL 14 is a breath of fresh air to hockey fans, a game where you feel like you're driving a player to victory, whether you're checking an opponent into the boards or scoring that split-second goal that could make all the difference in earning the Stanley Cup.
In addition to the on-ice action, you also get to live the life of a dream NHL player, moving with the ups and downs of management decisions and, hopefully, earning yourself a spot in the hockey hall of fame. Likewise, with GM Connected, you'll get to manage your team to great success with the right choices – or end up in the lower ranks alongside the losers from the previous season.
Here are some tips to help you through both modes, so you get the most out of them as you progress and ultimately become a hockey champion – not a hockey chump.
Be a GM/GM Connected
When it comes to making key business decisions, it's important to remember what's best for the team. A player could have the hottest hands in the world, but if he fails to have chemistry with his team, the best option is to send them to the minors for conditioning, or, if push comes to shove, to the trading block. While it's a move that could lose some popularity, in the long run you'll bring in some fresh blood that will help the team work better.
Interacting with fellow GM's is important in the league, as you get the hang of hiring hot new prospects, checking in with commissioners to see how they feel about trades and interacting with a Master Schedule to see what's up next. Don't be afraid to get out there and make a few friends – or would-be rivals – in your quest for hockey glory. Who knows, you just might have a new Online Season league in the making.
Scouting is vital when it comes to learning everything about a prospect. Take the time to really see what a player can do on the ice before making an offer. Also, make sure your offers aren't too overboard. You do have other team members and expenses to worry about, and don't want to "bet the farm" on someone just because they can generate big numbers. Unless you're really feeling good about a certain player, it pays to shop around.
If you're dealing with AI decision makers – and you will over the course of the game – it's best to start off easy. Try to set the lightest settings possible until you get the hang of the system, then upgrade accordingly and see how much tougher they get. If you're used to how the Be a GM and GM Connected modes work, then just jump right in on the difficulty setting you're most comfortable with.
Watch out for signings and re-signings that are handled by the CPU. On occasion it'll act for you to bring new players to the team, and you'll have to make sure that the move balances out for the team overall. Keep a close eye on your roster and make sure everything fires on all cylinders for you.
Finally, get used to the Roster Management screen. It's easy to use and navigate through, and you can see where your strengths and weaknesses lie with your team, without having to rifle through dozens of numbers. Have fun with it!
Live the Life
With the latest additions to EA's player career mode, you actually live their life, making decisions and holding interviews that can affect the status of your prospect.
When you first start out, it'll be in the minors. Here, you'll have to show your hustle, to prove to others you have what it takes to establish an NHL career. Fortunately, this mode is rather easy to get into, just play to your skills and do your best with scoring alongside your team. Don't forget team chemistry – scouts love that.
Once you reach a Pro level, you'll begin to feel the aspects of your career. Most of the action will happen on the ice, but you'll need to remember that you're not just playing for yourself – but also your team. Don't develop too much of an ego, and remember to not hog the puck all the time. Even if you've got a hot hand, you need to keep in mind there is no "I" in team.
Interviews play a huge part when it comes to developing your character's personality. You'll be asked some tough questions during pre-game, post-game and off-the-ice interviews, and it's here you'll have to choose between four answers, ranging from honest to cocky. Veteran players who aren't happy with their team situation may want to take the cocky route, but it's important to keep chemistry flowing.
Chemistry plays a huge part, not only with the members of your team and management, but also the fans and your own family. Develop too much of an ego and you'll be resented for it, and then you'll face the possibility of being sent to the minors or the trading block.
Keep in mind you can't please everybody. For instance, you may be invited to go out with the guys, which helps build team chemistry. As a result, though, you may become exhausted for practiced drills the next day, losing out on Endurance and Durability points and losing some light favor with management. Just try to make up for it with the next game, while keeping your "bros" in mind when it comes to shooting on the ice.
Being the "good guy" has its advantages, as you'll receive various promotional opportunities, where you can raise your likability. Some companies still favor the bad boy, but taking the "good" route is the best way to go when it comes to fans, teammates and your own family staying in your favor. That said, it never hurts to see what a little ego can do for you, if you want to chance it.
NHL 14 is available now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.