7 Reasons to Love NHL 13

The newest effort from EA Sports’ perennial sports game of the year candidate hockey franchise arrived earlier this week and I’ve nearly burned my eyeballs out playing it. This year’s title boasts a new skating engine, smarter goalies, GM Connected mode, and plethora of other enhancements.

Here’s seven reasons why you need to own this game.

True Performance Skating

NHL 13 features an all new physics based skating engine that attempts to simulate true to life explosiveness, momentum and top end speed. The result is slower gameplay, but a more realistic hockey experience. There’s a fine line between speed and control now, and even the highest rated players will display a decreased ability to hold the puck, pass and shoot at top speed. You’re also given the ability to skate backwards at anytime by holding LT (Xbox 360) or L2 (PS3), which can lead to some creative passing and behind the net plays.

There’s a moderate learning curve to mastering True Performance Skating, but it presents an unprecedented level of individual player control as a prize for the few frustrating hours you’ll spend to get the hang of it.


Camera angles on replays have been reworked to provide more of a broadcast feel to the game. As a realism seeking gamer, I can only applaud this move. In-game replays and intermission recaps give the game more of a story feel by expanding focus to include things missed opportunities, a strong passing performance and blocked shots.

NHL arenas have been re-rendered and offer more accurate depictions of their real life counterparts. Cut aways and replays offer a good look at the nosebleeds, rafters and re-creations of all 30 teams’ banners. It’s all about the little things.

Defense and Goalies

Strategy is of the essence in NHL 13. More coaching options are now available, allowing you to tailor your playing style any way you see fit. Team strategies as well as full forward and defensive line biases are fully customizable. Finally, you can create a true checking unit that, by default, leans more toward dumping the puck, playing physical and is willing to sacrifice the body.

Breaking out of your own zone versus a trapping team isn’t so easy to work around in NHL 13 as it has been in previous instalments of the series either. Defensive AI fine tuning, coupled with numerous goalie improvements make scoring and dominating on the offensive end less attainable… in a good way. Goalies have the ability to recover from save selection errors with full limb control. A puck destined for the back of the net can be swatted away at the last minute with a flailing arm or desperation kicksave.

GM Mode is Still King

The interface is not all that dissimilar than that of NHL 11 and NHL 12, but enough upgrades have been made to warrant a round of applause. You’ll receive more trade offer feedback from prospective partners and be given more directions as to what other GMs are seeking in return/willing to give up.

Another excellent enhancement to GM Mode is the refined roster management offered by the new “GM Brain”. Things like player age, position scarcity, cap hit and waiver eligibility are now taken in to account by the AI engine. You won’t find Cory Schneider sitting on waivers midway through the season (anyone who played NHL 12 knows what I’m talking about, amirite?).

Lighting/Shading Enhancements

One of the first things anyone familiar with the NHL series will notice upon firing up the game is the adjustments made to lighting. Players actually cast shadows and things like arena lights, power rings and scoreboards reflect off the ice with more detail than ever before. Cut away scenes and replays even detail reflection off of players’ visors and helmets. EA Sports actually spent time in Rogers Areana with a 350 degree camera to detail the visor and helmet reflection maps.

Character shading has been completely reworked, too. Light and arena colours bounce off of players with an intense level of realism. For instance, a player with white stick tape will generate red light/colour transference on their blade when crossing over lines on the ice.

NHL Moments Live

This one comes with a caveat. NHL Moments Live is a game mode that has all the right intentions, but could suffer from the impending lockout. There are nearly 25 moments from the 2011-12 season that are available to be relived, either by controlling an entire team or an individual player. Sam Gagner’s 8-point game, for instance, is an NHL Moment that gamers can choose to try and re-create.

It is EA Sports’ intention to offer moments from the 2012-13 season for download as they are made available, but a work stoppage threatens to dampen excitement for any such possibility.

The Further Evolution of Be a Pro Mode

You now have the option to request a trade at any point in your career and/or retire whenever you see fit. Trade requests are only met when a value requirement is reached. Hit your GM with a trade request as a 19-year old rookie rated 68 and you’re bound to find your playing time diminished or worse yet, sent packing for the minors or back to the CHL.

It’s not quite an RPG yet, but there are now more consequences for actions as a pro hockey player.

In Closing

Sports game franchises are a work in progress from year-to-year, and NHL 13 almost feels like the penultimate entry in the series for this generation of consoles that it’s destined to be. It’s not perfect, at least not yet, but it’s pretty damn close.

EA Sports doesn’t always deliver as advertised out of the box, but a fix eventually arrives. There’s some frame rate lagging issues and hit physics could stand some refining, but most negative talking points are things that can be patched with a title update.

True Performance Skating is not gimmicky. It’s an aggressive step forward that’s bound to scare off some casual gamers, but serves as the backbone to an exceptionally realistic hockey title. This innovation combined with the numerous graphic/presentation changes and improved AI easily vault NHL 13 into the sports game of the year discussion.

Comments (31)

  1. So, I totally love NHL 13. But the GM brain is absolutely idiotic. Case in point: I did a fantasy draft and had leftover defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. So I traded him to Boston for a 2nd and a 3rd round pick. The next day, Boston waived him. I picked him up on waivers.

    I then turned around and TRADED HIM BACK TO BOSTON with a 3rd round pick for their first. The next day they waived him. I picked him up. Again. I then traded him back to Boston for their 3rd-7th round picks. This process repeated until I had all of Boston’s picks for the next three years.

  2. You forgot to mention how annoying it is that theres no post whistle shenanigans. For the first time in 20 years of ea hockey, i cant put someone through the glass or score on the goalie who isnt paying attention after the whistle. Toally lame. But the skating is cool….

    • It speeds up the game a little bit though, so that is nice. Most folks online just duck to get out of any post whistle tomfoolery.

  3. Are there no more trade rumors in GM mode?

  4. It’s probably way too complicated because of the players involved and whatnot, but an historic version of NHL Moments Live would be a great way to replace the lost season of NHL Moments. Even events from recent history, like the Flyers game seven comeback over Boston in the 2010 ECSF, or Craig Andersen’s ridiculous playoff performance for the Colorado Avalanche back in 2009 would be worthwhile of this treatment.

  5. I don’t think this person played this game enough to give this review:

    Goalies are INCREDIBLY inconsistent.3v0, 2v0, 3v1 one timers are damn near impossible to score on, but a flaccid unscreened wrister from above the high slot seemingly baffles my goalies. Also, a big league slapper from 2 feet out to the side of the net goes in a majority of the time.

    Poke checks are a little overpowered which a lot of people have been complaining about. May have some merit since you can spam them with 0 remorse…they need to tweak it so you occasionally miss or get penalties or something.

    Gm is extremely flawed. Players ask for way more money than their worth. If you play it enough, you’ll end up seeing rookies asking for almost 6 mil a year and a whole slew of other questionable contracts. Also needs much work.

    Servers to eashl/otp need some fixing too. Currently they’re pretty choppy and a lot of players are complaining about that.

    Sometimes the transitions feel a little awkward. I’m sure its going to be easy to get used to it eventually though

    Hitting needs a major patch. Collision detection is absolutely horrid and almost makes checking not worth the effort. Like goalies, incredibly inconsistent

    Despite all these flaws, I have managed to play a few games that went flawless and I managed to say “damn. That’s the best they’ve made this game in a while”. Aftet they iron out the tweaks, this game will be extremely solid. Enough so to carry over to nhl 15 (only buy the odd years!)

  6. By far the worst CHEL game since like 98.

    They ruined the skating. Players turn like mack trucks. Are you kidding me?
    Poke check? hahahaha, fucking works 101 times outta 100.
    The stick lift? I once lifted a players stick 5 times, and he still skated away with the puck. The A button (xbox) is aka the penalty button(high sticks and slashes)

    Goalies make the most rediculous saves, then let in floaters from the point. UNSCREENED.

    The DEKES are terrible. They are the same ones, but work maybe 2 outta 10 times.

    All in all..
    Waste of $80

    • its funny when u do poke check it ends up on the computers stick everytime, then they score!

  7. The game is fairly good, but the biggest thing that sucks, is how there’s maybe 1-2 penalties per game(on MAX sliders).

    It’s been like this for 2 years now, and EA doesn’t fix it. How can you honestly release a hockey game that barely has penalties…Do you see 2K Sports releasing NBA game without fouls? Or Madden being released without flags? So why does NHL get the cheap treatment and one of the most basic things isn’t even fixed in the game.

    It’s sad that something that was perfectly fine on Gamecube,PS2 and stuff, are issues in games today.

  8. No matter what they improve, the NHL franchise will never reach the heights of FIFA.

  9. I really love NHL 13. It’ good to see NHL 13 season is getting popular because of great improvement. Thanks

  10. Dump and chase is actually a viable strategy, and you can actually play defense now. I am sold.

  11. I noticed in be a pro mode each time i sim to next shift it starts with a face off. Anybody else annoyed by that

  12. I’m looking to start a “GM connected ” mode for xbox 360. Looking for serious gamers only. Not looking for any “A” holes. Some good clean fun. Email me at bdonahue1971@aol.com if you are interested. Would like to get this up and running ASAP or at the latest 9/21. Not looking to have a 6 on 6 mode. Just one controlled team by one user. SIM vs actual play still up for debate. Looking to get it done. Will communicate via email and even text if you guys really want to make this as realistic as possible since we are looking at no hockey for a while we can at least have our own season / seasons. This year. I’m 30yrs old from Philadelphia. Very serious abou the online league. Email me your thoughts but most imprtantly the following:

    sim or real play
    time alotted per week before progressing to the following day or week


  13. It still has every bug it had in NHL12,NHL11 and NHL10

  14. honestly nhl 13 has alot of flaws which are annoying as a hockey player myself….. on gm mode on the hardest settings possible, i find the computer goalies are just totally amazing, but your own goalie cant stop beach balls! makes it frustrating.
    i find it amzing the computer scores every crappy shot short side low blocker everytime…..even when you out shoot them 30-5 you still lose 4-1! you cant score no where near the ammount of goals or same type of goals the computer scores that are cheese! on the power plays and what not players and defenceman are horrible! they never set up or anything and one timers are garbage but the computer never misses!!
    defence are terrible, cant poke the puck or hit no where near as good as the computer who makes every play perfect! i dont know how many games i lose on the hardest mode mode, in the last 10 seconds of the third because of some stupid goal they score.
    its pretty sad you out play the computer in zone play by over 10 minutes and still lose by 3-4 goals! why is it that you cant score? its great the goalies are better but my players are dumb as a stump, cant shoot one timers or even set up for them. cant even make plays without computer getting sticks on it, honestly its great the computers harder, but its really cheesy when they score every shot on weak goals! espally when you are all over them! one goal games the computer wont allow you to touch the puck! all of a sudden it becomes the megaman of nhl 13!
    last thing, the nhl fighting is stupid, the best fighting engine is the old sega genisis nhl 97 and though the game sucked….. it was good heavy weights faught but u never knew who was gonna win, u can throw upper cuts, jersey them and what not…. what kinda gay fights are these! i put out my heavy weight to go fight and you get somone like hossa dropping the gloves with them, for real….. get a better fighting engine! and seriously get rid of the power bar for the fights, anybody can win or lose any given punch! but somtimes the refs may jump in when the fighters are tired!

    • agreed with Silly and Dwayne Boivin..everyone else who disagrees has clearly never played a game of real life hockey or has watched a game of hockey.. its by far the worst NHL game yet..don’t believe any one of those so called 7 BS reason cause they are all lies… save your money and save your kid alot of uncalled for swearing that your going to hear if you purchase this for them. take it from someone who has played real hockey and been a fan of the game for over 20 years now..worst year for hockey ever..a poopie game the same year as the lockout…dont give the nhl the satisfaction of fighting over your money you gave them by purchasing this Crap game.

  15. You are so wrong. This game is absolute garbage in its mechanics and logic. It wasn’t made by people who know how hockey is played at all. Its an indian dude who doesnt know shit about hockey and its EA SPORTS which riggs every one of its games to favor one team

    • gotta agree on every level. fanboys will be fanboys though. makes me laugh it gets all these awards but has no competition. fanboys need to loearn that competition is good and can only drive quality up. get off EA’s di*ks the game is horrible

  16. Dunno why guys even bought nhl 13. Since nhl 08 theyve been making minor tweaks to the same basic game and spewing it out for 50 big ones. my biggest irritation apart from the awful (although for some reason highly praised) physics engine, has to be the fighting. I said when they announced 1st person fighting it would be awful and it is after 3 years…..still. so unrealistic and boring. nhl 99 or fox sports nhl 99 had far superior fight engines, its ridiculous. boycott them I aint pay for that watery dogsh*t every year.

  17. Hey, everyone. Given the lockout and everything, I waited to buy this game until recently so forgive me if I’m a little late to the discussion. As a huge fan of the EA Sports NHL series since 93, 94 days, I was really excited about the new skating engine and physics upgrades.

    While those factors are awesome, I have to agree with the people who are shocked by how disappointing this game is.

    It’s incredible that you can kick the computer’s ass offensively yet not score a single goal, all while the computer scores on seemingly every shot it takes from the circles. This happens EVERY GAME. And given that the computer is so good at forechecking, clogging passing lanes and blocking shots (all which is great for the game), the fact that the computer CLEARLY scores more goals than you makes it virtually impossible to win a game. Believe me, I’m not one of these super danglers who is upset by the computer pokechecking you all the time. I played on the Superstar level in NHL 12 and held my own grinding it out on offense and playing tough defense. In NHL 13, I get my “ass kicked” on All Star because of bullshit goals.

    This game has some awesome features and modes, but given that the computer can score goals and make saves that you simply cannot, none of them seem appealing. I get frustrated playing one game, much less 82 and playoffs during Season Mode. The only way to play this game is against another human — it’s the only time you’ll ever have a fair, competitive game.

    I think if the creators could reduce the computer’s number of head-scratching goals, NHL 14 could be a LOT better. NHL 13 certainly has a lot of potential, but it fails miserably during gameplay.

  18. Yeah… Now you find Henrik Sedin on waivers…

  19. Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?

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