Steps Towards a Perfect Game

Caption: Making Gretzky’s head bleed doesn’t make my list, but still was the greatest moment in EA’s NHL history.

In honor of Tim Rosenthal’s series on the upcoming improvements to NHL10, I would like to present my list of upgrades that are still pending approval. Some of them have been included in previous editions of the game while others are things I figure wouldn’t be too far away.

1) Milan Lucic vs. Mike Komisarek (Heroes vs. Villains)

Life is just that much better with a good hero and an even better villain. Players that fans identify with and immediately fire up the crowd by getting involved in a big moment. Games also need villains, like Komisarek and Sean Avery, who smear hatred over every inch of a fan’s body, not those like Zdeno Chara, who are merely booed whenever they touch the puck.

The best example thus far? In MVP Baseball 2004, Derek Jeter would be greeted with chants of ‘Nomar’s better’ at Fenway Park.

2) In game highlights from out-of-town games

I remember this feature vividly for NHL ’95 on my PC. There was a ‘studio host’ that would take you out to other games for a highlight or two in between periods. In fact, EA used to have a bottom-line type feature on its NFL and NCAA Football games.

The point being, if Ovie or Sid scores an absolutely sick goal in a game elsewhere in the league, I’ll be interested in seeing it. I may be playing the game, but I also want to know what the teams around me in the standings are doing, or teams in my own division. It makes playing those crucial games in March and April that much more fun.

3) The NHL Awards Show

This was actually a pretty cool feature in NHL ’94. Instead of listing the awards at the end of the season, they’d present the nominees and actually announce the winner. EA has done a tremendous job with the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe celebration, but the rest of hockey’s storied trophies would like their moment in the sun.

4) An improved highlight system

One of the tremendous improvements EA has made with the NHL series is showing highlights of the period at its conclusion. Still, no game has touched ESPN’s NFL2K5 in terms of highlight presentation at key points of the game. Hardball and High Heat Baseball were close, allowing players to pick and choose from several key plays to create a highlight reel of the game that just took place, but that takes way too much effort and even more time.

5) Ron MacLean, Don Cherry and Coaches Corner

We’ve come such a long way in video game play-by-play presentation since Sports Talk Baseball on the old SEGA Genesis. Yet with few exceptions the work of the studio analysts goes unnoticed. We may not have reached this step in gaming as of yet, where Cherry would be able to address key issues in a game and not sound redundant after a while. Still, it would be a wonderful feature to see at some point in the near future.

Have any ideas for what you’d like to see in hockey gaming? Leave your comments below.

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