Category Archives: Xbox 360
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Welcome to the fifth and final part of my series discussing the NHL 13 sliders and settings.
Finding your perfect game is no easy task with all the choices EA Sports titles give you. On one hand I truly appreciate the options, but sometimes I long for the much simpler SEGA Genesis days of just popping the cartridge in and off you go. Sliders are the main reason I never invested much time in FIFA12. I love FIFA 12. I still play it, but I have yet to find a happy medium with it. It’s either too easy or too hard. Lucky for us I’m a bit more persistent when it comes to hockey!
Decide what you want out of the game first and be honest.
Look, if a game makes you so mad that you throw your controller across the room or worse, into your expensive LCD TV screen, you need to see a shrink about your anger issues or start playing the game on an easier level. Games should be fun, I can’t say that enough around here. If you’re not having fun you should not be playing them. Don’t give me that “pro-gamer” shit either, you can count the number of people that make money gaming on your fingers. I have a better chance of becoming the next J.K. Rowling (even though I barely write a page a day sometimes) than you do of becoming the next Johnathan Wendel. If you’re the type of person that thrives on challenges and can handle the pressure without exploding on the people and things around you then, by all means, crank that difficulty up all the way. Most of us aren’t like that though, we tell our employers we are so we can get the job, but we’re not. Be honest about what you want out of the game.
When I play regular games I want a reasonable challenge–a game should not be another job, it should be fun–I don’t want to win every game and I don’t want to loose every game. I want to relax with two to three beers or a few glasses of wine and have a blast. After 43 years on this shit hole I’ve come to accept that it’s the journey that matters not the end result. It’s not whether you win or loose it’s how you play the game. I play in the moment and losing a video game does not bother me as much as it does others. My current season with the Rangers has the lads sitting at 5-7-4. I’m still searching for my regular game slider’s sweet spot. That being said, I’m not minding the difficulty the current sliders are giving me because the games are a rush of endorphins each and every time, win or lose; I’m having fun.
Playing Be a Pro is a little bit different. I’ve mentioned before that I like to think of my BaP as my own flesh and blood playing in the CHL. The son I never had on his way to becoming the next Wayne Gretzky. I don’t want the game to be so difficult that my boy is a fourth line scrub his entire career. His pop is a scrub in real life. This is his pop’s fantasy. Fantasy needs to be better than reality. Then you have the entirely unrealistic expectations of your AI coach. Let’s face it, if you set the sliders too challenging you’ll never meet his expectations. Especially if you are playing 20 minute periods and simulating to your next shifts. I want a fairly realistic experience but I also want my son to shine quite a bit. That being said, I have a tendency to tweak the BaP sliders just shy of moderately difficult.
Find a good starting point and tweak from there.
As I’ve been playing a lot of BaP, I’ll use my experiences in this mode as an example of my thought process.
In my BaP I started off with my regular season sliders and tweaked them as I played further into the CHL season. I’ll admit my boy’s stats are a little over the top, but there are some things to consider. For one he is a 71 overall rated player. The closest to him in the entire league is rated 65. Logically, he should be outshining his peers. I’m also thinking that playing in the NHL will be a bit tougher because there is more talent and when he gets there he won’t be skating circles around his peers anymore. His stats are pretty high right now (90 odd points, half way through the CHL season) because I’ve been playing every game since the start of the season and tweaking the sliders along the way.
What should you be considering when tweaking the sliders?
- Don’t simulate games until you have found your sliders sweet spot.
- Don’t tweak the sliders during the games. Play the entire game out with the sliders you’ve selected.
- Before you start a game take a look at your team’s reports as well as that of your imminent opponent. Are you on hot streaks or cold? Is your opponent on hot streaks or cold? If your entire team is cold and theirs is hot, the next game should be very difficult. You should probably loose and if you win it should only be by 1 or 2 goals. If you win by 5-0, chances are it’s way too easy. Check these reports after the game as well, cold streaks can go hot in an instant.
- I’ve had games were I was hot, the other team cold, and they won by one or two goals. It could be they overcame their cold streak. It could be the game cheating in its underhanded Artificial Intelligent way to keep you from winning too much. I don’t know. I guess so long as they only win by 1 or 2 goals then it’s completely plausible. The Kings came out of nowhere last year to win the cup. Anything is possible.
- Pay attention to all the game’s statistics. In one BaP game I played we had 61 shots on goal. I was like, wtf? Then I saw the other team had taken 18 minutes in penalties to my team’s 4. I remembered we had a lot of 5 on 3 situations and that explained the shot total.
- Don’t let one game be the defining factor. I just mentioned that in one game the opposing team took 18 minutes in penalties. That’s pretty excessive, even for a minor league game and my initial instinct was to tweak the penalty sliders. It was the first time I came across this. I left the sliders alone and the next game’s penalties were more reasonable. Only tweak the sliders if you see a consistent problem across several games. Unless you immediately notice something odd that can be directly attributed to a setting you just tweaked, like when I tweaked shot power to 3 and in the next game nearly every shot my BaP took flew past the goalie.
- In BaP consider your pro’s attributes compared to everyone else. Should you have scored 3 goals in that last game? If your accuracy is above 80 and the goalies overall rating is 55, then you probably should have scored those 3 goals.
- Consider how the sliders affect the simulation segments of your games. Cycloniac recently went to an extreme and raised passing accuracy up to 6 and aggression up to 5 (amongst a few other changes). When I tried these, the actual gameplay was pretty challenging (though it started to feel like a job), but the simulation was way off kilter. Seemed like every time I simulated a shift the opposing team would score and there were so many penalties it was ridiculous. It was obvious right away these sliders did not work well during simulations.
- Watch how the sliders react to one another. I raised my shot speed to 3 and three out of my first nine shots touched twine. The goalies reaction speed was 2. I lowered my shot speed back down to 2.
- Look at your team’s standing as well as those close to you. If you are in first place and the second place team is close behind you then I’d say you are having a pretty realistic season.
TWEAKING FOR DIFFICULTY
I’ve found certain sliders to be more effective in nudging up (or down) the game’s difficulty as you get better (or worse) without having too much of an effect on the games realism. I would try manipulating these settings before raising Skill Level from Pro to All Star. If you do make a drastic increase in difficulty by raising your skill level, I would also look at the following settings to tame it a little.
- Aggression (under Checking) - For me, this one is the most effective in adding the right amount of difficulty when I need to. Higher settings may place players on both teams out of position but if you’re using realistic settings on game speed and player acceleration this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, even for you hockey purists out there. Can have an effect on penalties and the simulated segments of your BaP games, so watch for this.
- Goalie Reaction Speed - 2 and 3 are the sweet spots here for realism IMHO. Anything higher and goalies may start to over-react and become glitch goal magnates for players who can easily manipulate. Though it is really cool to see some of the incredible saves they’ll make. They also have a tendency to come too far out the net at times with a higher reaction speed.
- Shot Accuracy - The more you play, the better you will get. If you get to that glorious moment when everything you throw at the goalie touches twine, it’s time to lower your accuracy to a more realistic level.
- A.I. Learning - I have not experimented much with this slider but the logic is sound if you want to boost the difficulty a little, have the CPU use its razor sharp senses to clue into you faster.
- Pass Assistance - In the interest of realism (accurate pass completion percentages per game) I would look at this slider to increase/decrease difficulty for yourself before touching the pass accuracy and reception sliders.
- Other sliders to visit to add more challenge: Hitting Assistance / Strategy Adjustment.
All I’ve said here is my own philosophical approach to the game and gaming in general. You have to find your own Zen and run with it. Good luck and remember, always have fun and enjoy the moment.
Welcome to the fourth part of my series discussing the NHL 13 sliders and settings.
Pass Assist: 4 for me right now. They say it’s better to have it at zero and learn how to pass without it but I call bullshit. There is so much going on, you’re skating in one direction with the Left Thumbstick and trying to pass in another direction WITH THE SAME LEFT THUMBSTICK. Yeah, you try putting Pass Assist at 0 and watch every pass you make be an automatic icing. That being said, this setting depends on your skill and comfort levels. There’s a point where a game becomes less of a game and more of a fracking job. Use your completed passing average to decide if you need to raise or lower it. 60% is a good, reasonable range to be in.
Manual Passing: On. Holding down the Right Trigger will increase the speed of your pass. Great if you have a forward breaking away in the neutral zone when your defense just gained puck possession.
Pass Speed: 2 or 3. Mine is 2. But with Manual Passing on you can pass faster/harder when you need it therefore I’m not sure if this is relevant to a human controlled player with manual passing on.
Saucer Pass Speed: 3. A Saucer Pass is a sort of desperation pass. It’s like, okay, there’s all these opposing players between me and my partner heading for the net so I’ll just try and flick it over all these sticks and pray out of all these highly skilled players the only one capable of lifting his stick a foot off the ice and successfully controlling the puck is my teammate. I’ve played a little hockey and I know you have to add a little more juice to the puck to lift it off the ice, it makes sense to have this one higher than your normal pass speed.
Pass Accuracy Human/CPU: 3/0. Remember when I said compared to you the CPU is perfect? Yeah? Well, deal with it. And this (setting its pass accuracy to 0) is how you deal with it. Trust me, the CPU will still complete 75% of its passes or better. You’re not being mean to it. This is another slider to look at when you want to increase difficulty for yourself.
Pass Reception Ease Human/CPU: 3/0. For the exact same reason as stated above. This is another slider to look at when you want to increase difficulty for yourself.
Interceptions: 4/4. This causes a fair amount of discourse on the ice and replicates real ice antics well enough.
Shot Accuracy Human/CPU: 2/0. I currently have mine set to 3/0. I plan to bring it down to 2 as I get better for now the CPU is still whooping my ass. Do I need to repeat my bit about the CPU being better than you? The CPU will still score on you, don’t worry. If you get so good at defense that the CPU rarely gets a decent shot on you then you should look at raising its chances a little, until then this will be shiny.
Shot Power Human/CPU: 3/3 or 2/2. Depends on how high you have Goalie Reaction Speed set. Slower shots may never have a chance in H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS to see the twine if you have super-goalie in the net. On Cycloniac’s Slider Thread they start talking about the 2/2 setting producing more save variety from the goalies, but at that point in the thread they’ve really started to experiment, I think they may have upped Skill Level to All Star and they are using auto aim for shooting.
Slap Shot Accuracy Human/CPU: 1/1. Slap shots are cool but they rarely go in the net. It’s less of a ‘watch this sweet goal’ thing and more of a ‘drive the freaking puck towards the net as hard as possible and if it doesn’t go directly in or take someone’s head off then maybe it will ricochet off something and if that don’t work hopefully one of my pals will pick up the rebound’ thing.
Slap Shot Power Human/CPU: 2/2. This seems to be working for me right now but I have an inclination to want to raise it to 3/3. Slap shots are fast and hard if highly inaccurate (in pressure situations). If I get around to testing it at 3/3, I’ll update.
One-Timer Accuracy Human/CPU: 2/1. The CPU just loves the one-timer, eh? (See how I slipped that little nod to our Canadian brothers in, eh?) And you can be darn-tootin sure that the CPU is cheating to try and pull off this most difficult shot.
Hitting Assistance: 1 or 2. I have mine set at 2. I’m barely getting 10-15 hits per game. Not sure what is standard these days, I haven’t seen a game in a while and hit statistics are iffy at best. I’m happy with it for now. In my BaP game this is set to 3 and I had it at 4; it’s hard to gauge effectiveness because I’m playing a playmaker and he doesn’t have a high checking skill.
Aggression Human/CPU: 3/3. Player’s aren’t recklessly chasing you (as Cycloniac puts it) and everyone tends to play more positional (real) hockey than that on-line chase the puck like a chicken with your head cut off arcade hockey. Raising the Skill Level to All Star makes the CPU quite a bit more aggressive. Adjusting it here might be an option if you go to that route. This is another slider to look at when you want to increase difficulty for yourself. Keep an eye on this during the simulated segments of your season or BaP career. If this is too high your CPU teammates and opposing team seem to get a vast advantage. I had it set as high as 5/5 during my BaP CHL season and every time I hit the bench someone would score during the simulation. This is a good slider to visit if you want to incrementally decrease or increase the difficulty.
Hitting Power Human/CPU: 2/2. Most checks aren’t over the top, while solid board checks and hip checks can flatten someone.
Stick Lift Effectiveness Human/CPU: 2/2. Your stick lift will most likely result in a slashing penalty. The CPU’s stick lift will most likely result in you losing the puck… It’s something I’ve noticed a little bit in the games I’ve played. It’s just not affecting me much that I want to start compensating for it, yet.
Poke Effectiveness: 1/1. Anything higher and the poke check is comically effective. I’ve been getting pretty good with it at 1. I rarely draw a tripping penalty anymore. It’s all about timing and if you miss for God’s sake, don’t start spamming it, else end up in the sin bin.
Goalie Passing: 3. I’ll be honest here. I tried AL_TITO’S sliders first and felt good with the way he had the goalie set and never changed it when I tried Cycloniac’s. So far it’s working for me. Goalies seem to be doing all the things that goalies should be doing.
Goalie Cover Puck Frequency: 5. For the same reason as above.
Goalie Screen Effect Human/CPU: 3/3. For now the right amount of screened shots are making it through.
Goalie Reaction Speed Human/CPU: 5/4. I had this at 4/4, but had to make a personal skill adjustment. The CPU was having too easy a time scoring on me and I’ve got Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes! This is one of those settings that, in the interest of fairness, you want to be the same number for both the CPU and Human; eventually. Keep this setting too high (as I have here) and your goalies may over-commit too much, leaving plenty of open nets. Which–if you are using manual shot aim–may be a good thing, but if you are using auto shot aim it may make the game too easy.
Welcome to the third part of my series discussing the NHL 13 sliders and settings.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (A.I.)
Created Plays: I don’t use created plays (yet) but I leave this on anyway. It doesn’t hurt.
A.I. Learning: 3 is a good starting point. This controls how fast the CPU clues into you and adjusts. At 3 I can pull off the same faceoff move two or three times before the CPU tries something different to stop me, usually successfully. I’m using faceoffs as an example, this could apply to any situation on the ice. You think that cross crease pass will net you more than a couple of goals in a game? Think again. The new A.I. in NHL 13 is the most improvement the franchise has seen since it went full 3D. This is a good slider to visit if you want to incrementally decrease or increase the difficulty.
CPU Difficulty Adjustment: Leave it at 0 (for now, maybe forever). AL_TITO13 explains this slider as a boost the CPU gets to all its attributes. I’m not sure how this slider relates to something like the Skill Level selection and how they differ but I’ll take AL_TITO’s word for it and leave it alone for now. If AL is correct and this does in fact boost CPU players attributes I would look to other sliders to increase the game’s difficulty before resorting to this one.
CPU Strategy Adjustment: 3 is a good starting point. Maybe a good final point as well. This regulates how much the CPU adjusts its strategy against you. Do they defend the lead or go balls to the wall and try to embarrass you. The trick here is to find a happy medium where the CPU adjusts to your tactics without resorting to knee-jerk reactions.
Be A Pro Strategy Adjustment: Same as above but applies to the CPU coaching your team in BaP. This is going to be user preference. You might want to coach your own BaP team. I have it somewhere between 2 and 3 for my BaP. My thinking is I’m a player not the coach, actually, I’m the son my wife and I never had playing in the CHL (gave him a huge forehead, light brown eyes and dark brown hair to boot… Apparently he got more of his mother’s Asian genes than mine!) Anyhoo, you can see where I’m going with this. Maybe, if he ever gets promoted to Assistant Captain or Captain I’ll move this slider down to 0 and coach myself, until then—it’s above my boy’s pay-grade.
Human Strategy Adjustment: To be fully immersed in hockey gaming goodness you will need this set to 0… EVENTUALLY. While you are still getting used to the new game dynamics I suggest raising this to 3 and let the CPU take care of coaching while you get a handle on being on the front lines and trying to win the games by scoring goals.
CPU Faceoff Difficulty: I started at 3 because I had to get used to a whole new faceoff system (remember, I’ve been playing NHL 10 till recently). I bumped it back to 4 after several games. This is one of those sliders that will perform differently when taking the A.I. Learning slider into consideration. With Faceoff Difficulty at 4 and A.I. Learning at 3 I can’t pull off the same faceoff move more than twice without the CPU trying something different to stop me. This could change if I set A.I. Learning higher, therefore making a Faceoff Difficulty of 4 possibly too difficult. This premise obviously needs to be tested more, for now I’m happy with the way it is.
Fight Difficulty: Fighting in the NHL franchise is merely eye candy. Don’t get me wrong, if you are like me and use it in context, say after some goon injures your star player and you just can’t have that, then it’s time to take 5 for the team. 10 and a game misconduct if you’re lucky. But the fighting mechanics are basic to say the least. I find more success by repeatedly pushing the Right Thumbstick up as rapidly as possibly than I do by trying to strategically think the fight through like it’s some sort of Fight Night mini-game. Start this at 3 or 4 and adjust accordingly.
CPU Penalties: I have mine maxed at 6 and feel I have a good and fair amount of penalties in my ten minute period games. For shorter games I would suggest lowering this. A five minute period in which half your guys spend more than half of it in the sin bin won’t be much fun.
CPU Teammate Penalties: I have it set to 5. AL_TITO explains this best, “I want my teammates to take penalties, but not as often as the CPU team because I will also be taking penalties.” In short, the CPU has to force itself to screw up whereas you probably screw up on an hourly basis (ask your wife or girlfriend if you need verification of this). The caveat to this is if you are playing a position that is not prone to penalties, like playmakers or snipers. For example, if your BaP isn’t much for taking penalties (he’s not a tough guy, grinder, defensemen, or any position that is prone to getting called a lot) then in the interest of fairness you would want to keep this even with CPU penalties.
* Use these two penalty sliders to fine tune your penalties rather than the one under Rules.
Welcome to the second part of my series discussing the NHL 13 sliders and settings.
LETS TALK DETAILS
I’m going to talk about the individual sliders a little more in depth now and give you my feelings on them. I’m no expert, there are lads out there (like the guys at Operation Sports) that have done detailed testing on the sliders and you should take the information I am posting here with a grain of salt and remember it’s not how I feel, it’s how it feels to you. I have plenty of experience with this franchise, but I don’t have the time to conduct extensive testing on the settings. This is more gut-feeling backed by familiarity with the franchise than it is controlled lab room experiment.
Period Length: This one is up to you. What do you have time for? Back in ‘97 when I was running a local (dial-up) NHL league we used full 20 minute periods. I don’t have the time or the patience to play a single game for an hour these days. In NHL 10 I used 5-7 minute periods. I’m really enjoying playing NHL 13 and have started to use 10 minute periods and feel this is a good compromise on my time versus simulation requirements. In Be A Pro I use authentic (20 minute periods) settings because I can sim to the next shift and find this is the best way to get more accurate and life-like statistics out of my CPU teammates and the rest of the league.
Offsides: Delayed, always. It’s not real hockey if it isn’t.
Injuries: On, it’s hockey. People get hurt playing hockey.
* Because of a game (mode) breaking glitch I came across in my BaP season in which injured players do not return to the roster until another player is injured you may want to consider turning injuries off entirely in game modes that give you have no control over the roster.
Tie Break: Personally, I prefer the way the NHL used to handle ties because I’m not a huge fan of shootouts. However, for the sake of authenticity I go with the NHL standard of a 5 minute 4 on 4 to a shootout.
Penalties: I have mine maxed right now and I am pleased with the results I get in 10 minute periods. Adjust this slider in accordance with how long your games are. If you are only playing 5 minute periods, then 2 or more penalties per period will feel like 2 too many, especially if you’re the one sitting in the sin bin. Use this NHL chart to guide you and keep in mind raising other sliders like Aggressiveness will have an effect on penalties and use the penalty sliders under A.I. Intelligence to fine tune.
Post Whistle Rules: Authentic. If you are going to be a prick after the whistle blows you need to pay the piper.
Penalty Time Scaling: I set mine to 0. This way a 2 minute penalty in a 10 minute period will only be 1 minute. It feels more authentic to me. You may prefer a penalty to last longer, it’s up to you, but if you are going for a simulation and don’t have time for full 20 minute periods then 0 is the way to go here.
Fighting: I have mine maxed and rarely come across a fight. I also do not go out of my way to start them. Fighting happens in hockey but not as much as people want to believe it does. There are certain factors that need to be calculated that I don’t believe the game takes into consideration. Things like age old rivalries, is the team struggling to get into the playoffs, is it the playoffs, did Brashear injure one of your players last game; there are a lot of things that influence whether a fight will happen in hockey. It’s never as simple as your team is losing so start a fight to get the lads going (though, this does happen).
Skill Level: Rookie will be too easy. Start with Pro and go to All Star if Pro gets too easy. My sense is that this level selection affects how ‘perfect’ the CPU plays. This is one of the settings you should look at to make adjustments as your skill level increases. Adjusting the skill level also changes the feel of every other slider. It’s hard to explain, but when you feel good enough to increase your skill level, expect to tweak the rest of the sliders a little before you settle into your new found uberness.
Gamestyle: This changes ALL the sliders to preset conditions. Once you start futzing with the sliders this switches to ‘Custom’. Start at ‘Hardcore’ if you need a starting point otherwise this setting is inconsequential for our purpose.
Tuner Set: Most of the time I leave mine at Current. My most recent settings are using 1.06, because of Cyclonic’s recommendation. Tuner changes are usually adjustments to game mechanics that you have no real control over. Like dropped sticks, and such. Most of the time the changes are for the better, so stick with ‘Current.’ Most of you won’t notice the difference between them. If you need more details and advice on tuner sets, try:
CPU Aid: For now, I have mine set to ‘Normal’ because I suck and need all the help I can get. As I get better switching this to ‘Hardcore’ will be one of the first adjustments I’ll make.
Broken Stick Frequency: I have mine set at 2. It seems to produce the right amount of broken sticks playing 10 minute periods.
Game Speed: If you are searching for realism 0 or 1 are the way to go here. Anything higher and you’re playing arcade style hockey.
Attribute Effects: 3 is the sweet spot. Raise it higher and mediocre stars becoming superstars. Lower, and they become scrubs. 3 makes them perform at a more appropriate level.
Fatigue Effect Human/CPU: 4/4 is the happy medium for me with 10 minute periods (even with 20 minute BaP periods). It’s a good starting point at least. Keep in mind, you are not going to get a true feel for this until you start making line changes yourself. If you’ve been following my advice this is something you need to worry about AFTER you have all the other settings at a level that pleases you.
Fatigue Effect Recovery Human/CPU: 2/2 seems to be about right for 10 minute periods (and 20 minute BaP periods). By the end of the period all your lines should be showing some level of fatigue. They should all be finishing the game running on empty (yellow bars). Keep in mind this works in conjunction with Fatigue Effect, if you have it set so low fatigue does not effect you, you’ll hardly notice the recovery either.
Injury Occurrence Human/CPU: 3/3 seems to be the sweet spot for 10 minute periods. Players get injured all the time in hockey (isn’t that right Kari Lehtonen?) It’s a tough sport, you got hard ice, sharp and fast skates, young adults and grown men with sticks wearing suits of padded-plastic armor, all of them slapping a chunk of vulcanized rubber around the ice at speeds in excess of 90 miles an hour. Yeah, in what world does this not end well sometimes?
* Because of a game (mode) breaking glitch I came across in my BaP season in which injured players do not return to the roster until another player is injured you may want to consider turning injuries off entirely in game modes in which you have no control over the roster.
Puck Control Human/CPU: 1/0 is working for me. Remember the CPU is perfect so a human needs a bit of advantage. How do you gauge how much advantage you need here? If the puck sticks to you like glue, you have it set too high. Even Ovechkin gets bumped off the puck and only The Great One could possibly pull off a one-hand-windmill-toe-drag-drop-to-skate-juke-deke through two defensemen and still retain the puck to score. Possibly.
*Recently raised this to 2/1 in my BaP season and I’m happy with the results. I don’t feel my skater with a high puck control rating should be knocked off the puck with every tiny bump. But keep in mind I did this after raising Hitting Power to 2/2.
Player Acceleration Human/CPU: 1/1 or 2/2. 1’s will force you to play positional defense more (as Cycloniac mentions). 1’s are a tad too slow for me, there’s times when I feel like I’m skating in mud. I prefer 2/2. Try 3/3 if you want a faster paced game but it borders on a little too arcade.
As with any EA Sports title, not all is copacetic out of the box. You will need to spend some time adjusting the sliders to your taste and skill level and keep adjusting them as you get better. But how do you go about doing this? My next few blog posts will look at this endeavor a bit more closely.
FINDING YOUR STARTING POINT
The pre-programmed sliders in the game will either be too easy for you or too hard. All of them fail to recreate a true simulation of hockey. If you are new to the series or it’s been a while since you last delved in, your approach here should be to find the out of the box settings that give you a difficult and close game every time. If you are getting trounced on, the game is too hard. If you are not winning much (if at all) but the score is always close then this is your starting point.
Your next task is to try and recreate a more accurate simulation of hockey. The sliders and settings that effect the overall feel of realism or hockey simulation in NHL 13 are (basically): Offsides (delayed), Icing (on), Injuries (on), Tie Break (5 min 4 on 4, shootout), Penalties (maxed or close to it), Post Whistle Rules (authentic), Fighting (maxed), and Game Speed (0 or 1). I will go over these settings in a bit more detail in future posts in this series. For now, know that this is where you start if you are looking for an authentic hockey experience.
Alternatively, you can find many well thought out slider settings at the Operation Sports EA Sports NHL Sliders forum. Try them out and when you zero in on something that feels good to you, start tweaking for your skill level. I’ve tried AL_TITO13’s sliders but found the All Star setting too intimidating. I then punched in Cycloniac’s TrueSim NHL 13 Sliders and have been tweaking them to my taste and skill level over the past few days.
After you have selected your starting sliders, the next step is to tweak the sliders to your skill level. Is the CPU constantly scoring on you? Raise your goalie’s Reaction Speed. Are you missing the net a lot? Raise your Shot Accuracy or try a few games with Auto Aim on (you can find the option for Auto Aim when you start a game, after you have selected sides and jerseys). You can always readjust these sliders as you get better.
Use your stats to adjust to your skill level. If you won 100% of your faceoffs during the last game then your faceoff slider is too easy. Too many completed passes and you need to reexamine your Passing sliders. Pay attention to your shots on goal (30 is average in an NHL game), turnovers, time on attack and puck possession time. If you have possession far too much or too little look at your Aggression, Puck Control, Interceptions, Stick Lift Effectiveness and Poke Check Effectiveness sliders.
While you are making these adjustments it is important that you focus on the gameplay. Make line changes automatic and turn up Human Strategy so the CPU takes care of coaching for you.
Another thing to consider is the CPU cheats. Okay, maybe cheat is too strong a word. Lets put it another way… Compared to you; the CPU is perfect. This can be easily demonstrated by lowering the CPU Shot Accuracy down to zero and counting the goals it will still score on you. Set the CPU’s Pass Accuracy to 0 and it will still finish each and every game with a 70% or better passing percentage. The CPU can’t help it. It was programmed that way. The point being, don’t feel like you are cheating because you set the CPU Shot Accuracy to 0. The CPU was born with a pretty shifty advantage over you. It’s faster, smarter, and in most cases it has a better personality. It also doesn’t have those pesky fat fingered pie shovels you call hands slowing it down. When the CPU wants to pull off a deke all it has to do is think about it, you’re the one that has to perform it.
Another thing to consider is slider settings that work well in Season mode or Play Now may not necessarily translate well to Be A Pro or Be A GM. The length of the game will also have a sincere effect on the sliders you choose.
We’ll start covering the sliders in more detail in my next blog post.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS FOR THE PERFECT GAME
As with any EA Sports title, not all is copasetic out of the box. You will need to spend some time adjusting the sliders to your taste and skill level and keep adjusting them as you get better. I’m using Cycloniac’s TrueSim NHL 13 Sliders right now, tweaked a little to my taste and skill level. I’m not winning a lot of games with these sliders but the games are close and they feel right. I’m also pretty honest with myself and understand that I’m not winning because I basically suck right now. Most important, I’m having fun playing it.
To say the commentary by Clemente and Thorne is uninspired would be to give it far too much credit.
GRAPHICS AND PRESENTATION
NHL 13 looks fantastic. Everything has been vastly improved upon over NHL 10. Players animate more fluidly and look significantly better (especially the goalies). The stadiums seem to be more detailed even if the crowds occupying them are not as dynamic as the crowds in FIFA 12. The presentation and highlights pull you deep into the simulation and the rink sound effects are simply amazing. Being able to play the Winter Classic brings tears to my eyes every time and EA’s attention to detail here is commendable.
That being said, to say the commentary by Clemente and Thorne is uninspired would be to give it far too much credit. It seems as though I’ve been listening to the same drivel for ten years too long now. Not only is it some of the most unenthusiastic commentary to ever rear its ugly head in a sports sim, it’s simply wrong half the time. Attempt a basic and unsuccessful deke on open ice with naught an opposing player in sight and they’ll talk about the ‘fancy moves‘ you just pulled off to get around the defenders.
I’ve been playing FIFA 12 for a year and I’m still not tired of hearing Martin Tyler, Alan Smith, Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend tell me how much I suck when it’s appropriate. The NHL series doesn’t just need to add more commentators into the mix, they need more enlivened commentating. Clemente and Thorne are going through the motions and collecting an easy paycheck. This could have something to do with voice direction as well. EA should get the lads working behind the scenes on the voiceovers for FIFA to fix what has become an excruciatingly stagnant feature in the NHL series.
And the music… GOD, THE MUSIC SUCKS BIG ELEPHANT DICK! Yet, I’m inclined to give EA a slight break on this issue. Lets face it, going to a hockey game in the 21st century is like popping on the 8-Track in your dad’s Ford Pinto only to be met with the inevitable exclamations of ‘wow, I haven’t heard that song in years’ from your fellow passengers. What is it with the NHL and its propensity for aging crappy, one-hit-wonder rock bands with big hair and modern bands that sound like aging crappy, one-hit-wonder rock bands with big hair? And for God Awfuls sake stop with the ‘WHOA-OW-OW’ songs already.
What’s the point of being Gretzky in 1981 if Messier isn’t next to you on the bench and Grant Fuhr in-between the pipes?
You have a lot to keep you occupied. Be A GM is a much more in-depth experience than it was in NHL 10, revamped more for someone who only wants to manage the team and sim the games. It’s peeked my interest a little but I probably won’t get into to it much. Season play and Be A Pro is my thing. I’m very pleased with the ability to sim to the next shift in BaP as it makes for a much more realistic experience without wasting your free time watching the CPU play and hearing your teammates chatter on the bench around you is a nice, immersive touch.
NHL Moments Live is a half-assed premise. Doubly so because of the lockout. What’s the point of being Gretzky in 1981 if Messier isn’t next to you on the bench and Grant Fuhr in-between the pipes? Maybe this mode could somehow shine given some present day events to emulate but chances are we won’t find out. This mode has no appeal to a hockey purist such as myself. Is it too much to ask for a little historical accuracy?
I don’t buy EA Sports games for the multiplayer. The ship of fun sailed off into the horizon on EA’s multiplayer experience when corporate’s grubby, greedy little hands delved far too deep into what used to be a very pleasant, fair and balanced experience.
While GM connected appears to be a great idea, it ultimately fails in practice. You’ll spend far too much time watching loading screens because, quite frankly, for all their money, EA servers are slower than a Commodore 64 trying to load Windows 8. Needless to say, want to guess which post of mine has garnered over 30k hits? This one. You do the math.
Enter the EA Sports multiplayer realm at your own peril.
NHL 13 is good were it counts. The improvements they’ve made to gameplay since NHL 10 are vast and for the better of the franchise. I’m finally enjoying playing the series again.
THE FINAL WORD
Is NHL 13 a $60 game? All things considered, H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS no.
Online play is sketchy at best. They’ve had problem after problem after problem with Hockey Ultimate Team mode. If you want to compete your Be A Pro skater online you’ll need to shell out more cash for equipment bonuses or be at the mercy of those who do. Be A GM mode is time consuming to play and while it can be argued that this is because the CPU has more numbers to crunch it still manages to make idiotic decisions that will leave you shaking your head. If single player Be A GM mode is slow, GM Connected is excruciatingly slow. NHL Moments Live is useless without a real LIVE NHL season to fuel it. And it’s not like they have to do much in the way of roster updates. There are just too many broken aspects of the game for me to reconcile it as a $60 purchase.
NHL 13 is good were it counts. Great even. The improvements they’ve made to gameplay since NHL 10 are vast and for the better of the franchise. I’m finally enjoying playing the series again. For those that never fail to purchase each years iteration of the franchise these improvements may hardly be noticeable. Electronic Arts should shift their EA Sports development cycles to one every 3 years, instead of every year and charge people a modest fee for roster updates in the interim.
I would easily pay $40 ($45 in a pinch) for NHL 13 but not $60. I’m elated I got it for $25. If EA didn’t nickel and dime its loyal fan base to death I might be inclined to pay $60 for it, but EA does nickel and dime us to death and I’ve spent far more money on the NHL franchise than I care to remember.
NHL 13 LINKS
Back on the Sega Genesis I purchased every iteration of the EA Sports NHL series that was released. This practice continued when I abandoned the Genesis for PC gaming. Each release brought something new to the table back then. These days? Not so much. Which is why I don’t bother with the series every year anymore. Going into this review you need to understand I’ve been playing NHL 10 since 2009 and my overall opinion of NHL 13 is highly affected by this.
With the greedy owners, their lockout and no Atlanta hockey team to support, I’m not all that passionate about hockey these days. I haven’t played NHL 10 in over 4 months. However, a hockey game has always been a healthy part of my gaming diet and when I saw NHL 13 on an Amazon lightning deal for $25 I couldn’t resist.
While there is some discourse on the forums–the only place to get an honest review of a game that isn’t paid for in advertising dollars and gifts (so long as you are capable of sorting through the whiny gamer bullshit)–regarding this years changes, most of the whining seems to be from kids who can no longer glitch goal their way to a win and have never seen or played a real hockey game in their entire life. I feel a lot of disillusionment can also be contributed to people suffering through incremental changes that are blurred by the reality of basically playing the same bloody game year after year. Fortunately for you, I’m not under the influence of this self-inflicted tunnel vision.
All this hockey gaming goodness comes at a price. You’re not going to just jump into NHL 13 after playing the series religiously for the past twenty odd years.
SINGLE PLAYER: THE ONLY REASON I STILL BUY EA SPORTS TITLES
Coming from NHL 10 to NHL 13, it couldn’t be a more perfect hockey game. I’m almost as impressed with it as I was with FIFA 12 (I’d probably be more impressed if I wasn’t so disenchanted by the lockout). With the exception of NBA2K there is no better single player sports experience out there than EA Sports. None, and I’m honestly surprised EA has kept this consistency throughout the years despite its corporate blundering in almost every other area of game development.
EA SPORTS’ PLAYER IMPACT ENGINE NEEDED SOMETHING MORE IN NHL 12
When I played the NHL 12 demo last year I felt there was something missing with the collision system. Checking felt more like thudding. It could have been me because there was no happy medium in NHL 10 for checking, you either went arcade outlandish or futzed about on the ice feebly saying ‘excuse me’ to every forward that tried to blow by you. Even so, there was something lacking in NHL 12. In FIFA 12 the new collision system was introduced along with Tactical Defending and Precision Dribbling, and this mix of new experiences added vivid life to the FIFA franchise whereas the Impact Engine alone took a bit of the impact out of the NHL 12 demo.
TRUE PERFORMANCE SKATING, THE MISSING INGREDIENT
While I’m sure the impact engine has been improved on–well timed checks feel solid again–the addition of True Performance Skating to the mix is the ingredient that pulls it all together. The Impact Engine and True Performance Skating combine to make everything else in NHL 13 shine.
In NHL 10 I could easily skate by defenders without protecting the puck and not using dekes. Not anymore. Learning how to effectively protect the puck and pull off a simple deke at the precise moment in NHL 13 is an absolute must if you intend to play on any skill level above rookie. Every game mechanic in NHL 13 has more meaning now. More substance. From stick lifts, puck chops and poke checks to positioning and checking to coaching strategy and line changes; it all matters more because of True Performance Skating and EA’s new Impact Engine.
EVERYTHING IS SIMPLY BETTER NOW
The goalie animations are beautiful to watch. Goals are far more realistic and less glitchy. More pucks trickle and creep in off the goalie than fly uncontested into the netting. Five hole goals happen more often and you’ve got a good chance of scoring if you can coax the goalie into overstepping his stride. I haven’t seen a save or goal yet that ushered an ‘oh right, like THAT could really happen,’ reaction from me.
You don’t get called for interference every two bleeding minutes like in NHL 10 (something that was also noticeable in the NHL 12 demo). I, or any of my CPU teammates, have not taken a penalty we did not deserve in the twenty odd games I’ve played so far. Sure, it’s fairly easy to trip someone with an errant poke check, but for the first time in franchise history I can honestly say it’s the user’s fault and not the CPU cheating. Stop spamming the right bumper and you won’t be spending much time in the penalty box. If you’re behind the puck carrier go for the stick lift instead. You have to start understanding, everything is situational now. EVERYTHING. You want to score? Cycle the puck, shoot through traffic, shoot low, shoot high; everything you do–if you do it in the right situation–can create a goal or a rebound.
The Artificial Intelligence of the CPU controlled players is leaps and bounds better than the game’s predecessors. Players are almost always positioned properly and the CPU learns as it plays you. You won’t be getting away with the same faceoff move or cross-crease pass if you repeatedly use them.
If I had one complaint about the new game mechanics it would be Net Battles. I haven’t actually engaged much in Net Battles, but there seems to be this black hole vortex area in front of the net that wants to suck you in. It’s as though the defender is reaching out and grabbing you with his arm and pulling you back, only he’s not.
EVEN THE GREAT ONE PRACTICED
I won’t lie, all this hockey gaming goodness comes at a price. You’re not going to just jump into NHL 13 after playing the series religiously for the past twenty odd years. You need to spend quite a bit of time in Free Skate to get used to it, and I have. More so than I spent time in FIFA 12 futzing around in the virtual stadium with my Be A Pro. It also helps if you know how to play real life hockey. The kid who has only seen pixelated hockey his whole life will not enjoy this game.
I picked NHL 13 up on an Amazon lightning deal for $25. With the lockout and the fact I’m still plugging away with NHL 10 I have to admit I’m pretty psyched about it.
As with all my sports titles, the first thing I did was create a controls cheat sheet. I don’t have the game yet, however, I did my research and believe I’ve nailed the controls down. I used an old deke guide from NHL TIPS that was made for NHL 10, from what I can tell nothing has changed. I added the Manual Spin-o-rama to the deke list. Keep in mind, due to space constraints I could only include explicit instructions for right handed players. You have to reverse direction(s) for left handed players.
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I was pretty impressed with how much information I was able to fit on this one. Not only did I get a condensed version of Jayson Young’s (Operation Sports) fantastic coaching guide, I also managed to fit some of Jayson’s goalie tips and a celebrations guide to boot!
Feel free to download and print it out. I hope it helps all my fellow casual sports gamers out there. If you notice a discrepancy please inform me (politely, but that should go without saying) in the comments section and I will fix it if there is a problem. Feel free to drop me a thank you there as well; it’s nice to know when you are appreciated. Douchebag and immature gamer comments will be ignored or pounced upon like a wolf on the fold with neither grace nor glory (depending on what mood I’m in).
I uploaded it and a bunch of older controller reference sheets, most for original Xbox games and some for 360 games, to my b33m3R’s DOCS Box.com space, in the Gaming folder. Go have a browse, scroll down a little and the Box app is off to the right there>>>
EDIT 12/10/12 – Simplified the Dekeing 101 area. Renamed it BASIC DEKES and just put the dekes I believe to be most helpful during normal gameplay and added a note to visit nhlguides.net for more advanced dekes. Also made a few other minor cosmetic changes to clear up the clutter or make things clearer.
As always, YOU’RE WELCOME!
Not even a reach-around, and you better bring your own K-Y gel.
- WOOT, play expansions early. Seriously? This gets you excited? Pathetic.
- Exclusive in-game items. Like a knife only you can see. And dog tags and camo that make you clearly stand out as a complete and total fool with far too much disposable income.
- 5 themed expansion packs INCLUDING KARKAND (something you idiots already paid for.)
- Reset your stats… … … Someone please explain to me the point of having stats now?
- Increased platoon emblem layers and 10 “unique” decals. In order for this to be truly unique, you’d have to be the only one who bought the service.
- Save up to five of your favorite Battlefield reports. For those of you who haven’t figured out how to use a printer yet. Is the clock still blinking on your VCR?
- Strategy guides from the same dumb-asses who completely fail at testing their own game and patches. A feature that has been available for ages now on YouTube for free and delivered by more qualified people that know how to play the game.
- EXCLUSIVE“events,” “videos,” and double XP weekends. You know? So you can gain another pointless level and pad your now completely irrelevant stats.
- Undefined “additional bonus content.” In-game exclusive flip flops maybe?
- More frequent patches… Yeah, NO, not really. I’m just fucking with you.
Good luck with that.
P.S. @Battlefielders, you don’t have to worry about your game turning into CoD anymore. At this rate it would have to lap the track quite a few times to run neck and neck with CoD.