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NHL 15 Review: Gorgeous Graphics, Smooth Gameplay, And Missing Features

If you only want to play NHL 15 in season mode, you're in luck. If you like to really get into Be a GM or Be a Pro, you may not be.

Note: This review is based on the Playstation 4 edition of EA Sports' NHL 15. If you want a review of the XBox One version, please see Steve Dangle's excellent review. If you want to know what the game's like on PS3 or XBox 360, put in NHL 14 and pretend that every picture of every player on the game menus is Patrice Bergeron.

As the gameplay video for overhead play shows, NHL 15 is accurate. Like really, really accurate. Look! It's the Arch in the NBC intro! Look, it's Edzo talking about how great the Blackhawks are! Look! It's Doc, and his voice is a smidge higher pitched than usual (which is impressive). The arena? It's not a generic arena with Scottrade ice. It is Scottrade. About the only thing missing is Towel Boy and people yelling at him to jump.

The impressive intro leads into some impressive gameplay. The players are as realistic as they can be on a game system - gone are the terrifying automatons (unless you're talking about Barret Jackman, of course - he still looks like a robot here, like he did on the PS3). The jerseys flow with the players, and the players glide across the ice. The physics are hyper-realistic, which is probably due to the developers hiring a physicist from the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva to give them a hand.

The smoothness translates to the controls. They're effortless. The controls are responsive, the goaltenders are aware but not ridiculously aware like they have been in NHL 13 and NHL 14, and the puck caroms about, of course, hyper-realistically. If you were rating NHL 15 on graphics and gameplay alone, I would consider it one that you need to buy ASAP. Unfortunately, graphics and gameplay are not the whole game.

I'm pretty sure every one of you with a PS4 or XBox One have read the long list of missing features. No GM Connected, no on-line team play on game launch, no EASHL, no Live the Life or ability to sim shifts during Be a Pro games, no season mode... the list is pretty damn long. It's a problem. EA has said that they will be patching in some aspects of gameplay will be patched in, such as online team play. GM Connected and EASHL, however, do not appear to be on the docket. Three stars will be coming back and so will coaching guidance.

Some of the small features that are missing will be pieced in here and there, but that doesn't negate the fact that the game as a whole is incomplete. It's inexcusable, bare bones staff or not, to leave out small pieces of modes that have been present for years, such as mock drafts. It's impossible to comprehend why playing as AHL teams isn't included, or why you can't start in Juniors in BaP mode. How hard would it've been to include pre-season game?

If the gameplay itself is your focus, you'll be happy with NHL 15. It's beautiful and the gameplay is addictive. If your game is Be a Pro or GM Connected, you may want to do what I did - buy a HDMI splitter and keep your PS3 and NHL 14. Just be prepared to make the roster adjustments as needed.