There’s an interesting portion of the video gaming population that plays hockey in the virtual world, but doesn’t play (or watch) in real life. The games are just that good.

The always highly-anticipated NHL games from EA, in particular, are a major reason for that; this year is no different.

The press release for the latest edition of the game (available September 11th, 2012) caught my eye for a couple reasons: first off, the screen shot at the top of this post – good lord the graphics look great. But secondly because of the text below – a couple changes will make the games more realistic than ever.

True Performance Skating – A game-changing innovation for the franchise that adds physics-driven skating and over 1000 new animations. True Performance Skating authentically replicates the explosiveness, momentum and top end speed displayed by today’s NHL  players.

You knew the somewhat clumsy skating had to improve at some point. And also…

EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q. – In previous NHL games, players were only aware of skaters in their immediate proximity and goalies could only react to the player in control of the puck. With EA SPORTS Hockey I.Q., all players are now fully aware of every other player on the ice, resulting in quicker, smarter and more true-to-life decision-making.

Awesome. I’d love to catch a tender cheating on a 2-on-1 and go short-side.

I’m not much of a gamer, but I love the hell out of this series. Check out the videos below – I’m pumped.

(I should note that this wasn’t some paid for ad. I just genuinely love these games.)