Review: NHL 19 (PS4)

Review: NHL 19 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • Blu-ray Disc
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: NHL 19
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (34.04 GB)
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Vancouver
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), £59.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 594 of the podcast at 48:45.
Episode 594 - An Astro Bot From Comic Con

Gameplay:
If you’re interested in NHL 19 prepare yourself for World of CHEL. It’s an evolution of the EA Sports Hockey League component of the franchise and it’s actually pretty terrific.

You’ll pick your position and player archetype, then use that player across all the World of CHEL modes gaining experience as you go.

All the rewards and upgrades you’d normally get through online play specifically now come as a part of World of CHEL.

Wherever you’re playing, you’ll be earning the gear and upgrades so you’re now going to be rewarded for simply playing the game, without being locked into specific modes.

The other watershed change is the introduction of Real Player Motion (RPM) technology. This has been rolling out in the FIFA and Madden franchises the past few years and its introduction here into NHL 19 is nothing short of revolutionary.

Review: NHL 19 (PS4) Review: NHL 19 (PS4)

Each year, I was impressed with the small incremental steps taken to tweak player movement and stick handling but this year, especially compared against the minor changes over the past few years, it’s a quantum leap forward.

Player movement is so much more fluid and dynamic with the most realistic flow ever seen in a hockey video game. Every rush up the ice, every move in traffic, every jostling or heavy hit feels different and so much more natural. Nothing feels like a canned animation and it’s fantastic.

In terms of new modes, the 1v1v1 format, called NHL Ones, is much more entertaining and addictive than I thought it could be. You play on a half sheet of ice against two human opponents in a frenzied five minute battle.

A win moves you up to the next tier while two losses will drop you down to a lower tier. This is straight up pond hockey – no rules, played outdoors with winter gear on. It’s here that the RPM truly shines. The moves you can pull off in tight spaces can make a difference between winning and losing. It’s just absurdly fun.

Review: NHL 19 (PS4) Review: NHL 19 (PS4)

The addition of legendary NHL players of the past adds a little flavor to NHL 19 allowing you to compete against Hall of Famers at their best. For a hockey fan, it’s exciting to get to play alongside or against players like Johnny Bucyk, Bernie Parent, Howie Morenz, Jean Béliveau, and more.

The NHL Pro-Am mode takes advantage of this new pool of players, pitting your team of three amateurs against these seasoned veterans in a series of challenges. It’s a good way to get familiar with the different player types available to find the play style that suits you best.

With more modes than you can shake a stick at NHL 19 gives you hockey just about any way you want to play it. Beyond everything listed above, the game still includes Hockey Ultimate Team, which has received some nice tweaks this year, Be a Pro, Franchise Mode, Season Mode, Draft Champions, and more.

Just about everything has received some attention and you’re sure to find something to enjoy with all that’s available.

Review: NHL 19 (PS4) Review: NHL 19 (PS4)

Visuals:
The stadiums are as detailed as ever and the player models look great with many recognizable faces. The older players are a bit more dicey though. None of them were scanned so the development team likely had to work off historical footage and create the players from scratch.

Because the vast majority of players in the NHL never wore helmets the hair had to be modeled as well and that tends to be a hit or miss proposition. For context, in the sixty-two years prior to the mandatory helmet rule for players signed after 1979, very few players ever wore a helmet.

The outdoor spaces really shine in capturing that feeling of playing hockey on a frozen pond in the dead of winter. The various clothing options for your players help complete the illusion.

Mascots have been a part of the game for a few years now, both in real life and in the NHL game series which is fine for authenticity but the addition of the inexplicably popular Gritty, whenever that may be, may change the game forever.

Review: NHL 19 (PS4) Review: NHL 19 (PS4)

Audio:
I’ve grown tired of the repetitive commentary over the past few years, which is a shame because Mike Emrick is one of the best in the business. Commentary is hard in sports games and it needs to be updated yearly but it feels really stagnant over the past few years.

The upside is that turning the commentary off entirely allows you to hear the action on the ice as if you’re really right there in the middle of it. Skates cutting in as a player puts on a burst of speed or skids to a stop, the sound of the puck coming off a stick, hits along the boards or in open ice, it’s certainly an underrated highlight of the game since it’s usually drowned out by the commentary.

Online/Multiplayer:
With online co-op, NHL Ones, NHL Threes, the EASHL, and more, it’s critical that connectivity and matchmaking goes off without a hitch and thankfully that’s the case here.

It’s easy to drop into a game in pretty much any mode at any time. I’ve had individual players drop every now and then, usually because they’re poor sports, but I haven’t run into any connectivity issues or longer than average wait times at all.

Review: NHL 19 (PS4) Review: NHL 19 (PS4)

Conclusion:
The addition of Real Player Motion technology to NHL 19 is nothing short of revolutionary. The speed of the game, the movement of sticks and pucks, collisions and deflections, everything takes a huge leap forward in terms of realism and excitement. And the new game modes and deep roster of historical players makes a great game even better.

If you’re one of those players that skips every other year and this is the year you weren’t going to buy it, you’re going to be missing out on the best hockey game EA Sports has ever released.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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