Man, am I getting antsy for hockey. Pre-season seems so close yet so far away. Luckily, we have the release of everyone's favorite hockey game to make the next couple of weeks a little more bearable. I got my copy on Tuesday and between school and work I've managed to squeeze in a little playing time, so I thought I'd share what I thought on the improvements to the game and also how the game treats the Avs and their young guns.
Be A Pro is largely the same though I do appreciate the slight tweaks in presentation. The fact that you start out on a CHL team going after the Memorial Cup is pretty cool as well. I started on Matt Duchene's old team, the Brampton Battalion, and popped in a few goals and threw a few hits before we lost in the semi-finals. Accordingly, I was drafted in the first round by the Phoenix Coyotes and am now lucky enough to play on Wojtek Wolski's line. The on-ice improvements are interesting. The new hit engine is a little more realistic in some ways but now I seem to be completely taken out of the play if a defenseman even lands a glancing check. Maybe my character just sucks right now? For some reason, everything seems to be moving a bit slower than in NHL 10. The faceoff engine was very cool at first but kind of wears on you after a while. So far no broken sticks but I did have a goal waved off. I got to scream 'there was no kicking motion god damn it!' a month early this year.
Be A GM is where the best improvement took place. I love Be A GM mode and the added realism of RFA contracts is great. It works surprisingly close to real life. For example, before 2011-2012 season, T.J. Galiardi wanted around 3 mil despite his point production decreasing to 30. That was ridiculous so I just made a qualifying offer and waited. No other team would touch him for that price plus the loss of draft picks, of course. He held out until the beginning of the season but I eventually got him signed for 1.9 million.. On the other side, I signed Wade Simmonds to a contract that same off season and had to part with my 2nd round draft pick. Pretty reasonable, I think. Finally, I love the way the contract resigning screen is set up now. Much easier to see everything you want to see then it was before.
I, obviously, GM the Colorado Avalanche but I have to say, it is not as easy as it was in NHL 10 to build a winning team. For one thing, NHL 11 does not look very kindly on our Colorado Avs. Matt Duchene and Chris Stewart are the only players that have developed into stars on my team. Galiardi, O'Reilly, Yip, Jones, Gaunce and Cumiskey all kind of suck. Calvin Pickard is developing nicely but he is about the only player from the 2010 draft that is. Hishon looks like a career minor leaguer. I managed to pick up Nino Niederreiter, though, and he is now my second line left wing. The most astounding thing is that just like in NHL 10, Paul Stastny has the skills but never puts up good numbers if you sim the season. He had a pathetic 41 and 39 in two injury free seasons before I traded him for Patrick Elias and Nikolai Zherdev.
And, what's more, according to NHL 11 sim, the Avs are going to have a terrible season next year. My team was the exact same as the one the Avs look like they are going to ice this season except for the addition of Matt Hendricks and Willie Mitchell. The team missed the playoffs and only won 33 games. I must remind you though that Stastny played 82 games and put up 41 points which is just ridiculous. However next season I traded Stastny for Elias and Zherdev at the deadline and signed Steve Sullivan, Steve Staios, Wade Simmonds and Mike Smith and the Avalanche won 51 games and made it to the Cup finals. I guess NHL 11 has a thing for vets.
Of course, now I am just rambling about my teams. I haven't played the new ultimate team mode yet. Thoughts?