NHL 18 gets slick with young guns

Waterloo Region Record - - SPORTS - Neil David­son

TORONTO — A new gen­er­a­tion of tal­ent led by Con­nor McDavid, Aus­ton Matthews and Pa­trik Laine has not only en­er­gized the NHL, it has forced video game de­vel­op­ers to up their game.

“NHL 18,” the made-in-Vancouver hockey ti­tle out Fri­day, fea­tures an ar­ray of slick moves in­clud­ing one-handed dekes, puck flips and be­tween-the-leg shots and passes.

“Our goal this year is re­ally to cap­ture the speed, the skill and the cre­ativ­ity that you’re see­ing in the new NHL with all those young player com­ing in,” game pro­ducer Sean Ram­jags­ingh said in an in­ter­view.

It’s not just a trib­ute to the young guns. Ram­jags­ingh reels off a list of moves in­clud­ing the (Peter) Fors­berg tuck and the (Pavel) Dat­syuk flip.

In the past, Ram­jags­ingh had been re­luc­tant to in­clude such glitz be­cause he felt hard-core fans would think they were too rare or ar­cade-like. The new gen­er­a­tion of player has changed that.

“But now you’re see­ing those kids pulling those moves off at high speeds strate­gi­cally to cre­ate new pass­ing lanes or to get shots off in traf­fic. So they’re part of the sport, you see them ev­ery night as part of the high­light pack­age.

“So for us, we saw that and used it as an in­spi­ra­tion for ‘NHL 18,’ bring­ing those moves into the game.”

Ram­jags­ingh says the spe­cial moves are “easy to learn how to pull off, but dif­fi­cult to mas­ter in the right sit­u­a­tion at game-speed.”

You can also change the con­trol sys­tem if you want an eas­ier way to do some of the fancier moves.

To bal­ance out the of­fence, the game also fea­tures a new de­fen­sive skill stick, which al­lows de­fend­ers to use their sticks to bet­ter com­bat at­tacks.

The new ver­sion of the game boasts im­proved ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence for your vir­tual team­mates and a three-on-three “ar­cade-in­spired, hard-hit­ting, high goal-scor­ing” mode.

Ram­jags­ingh says the new mode is a good way to get into the game.

“Just pick it up with your buddy on the couch and start just hav­ing some fun,” he said.

“NHL 18” fea­tures the fledg­ling Las Ve­gas Golden Knights. You can play as the real team or build it from scratch your­self. You can also cre­ate a 32nd team in an­other city — your own ex­pan­sion fran­chise, com­plete with logo, name and ev­ery­thing else associated with a new fran­chise.

The ar­rival of the Knights forced de­vel­op­ers to re­vamp some of the game frame­work.

“The way our game was de­vel­oped, the code it­self wasn’t meant to han­dle more than 30 teams,” said Ram­jags­ingh, who has been with EA Sports since 2000 and was first in­volved with the fran­chise with ‘NHL 09.’

De­vel­op­ers headed down to Las Ve­gas to take pic­tures of T-Mo­bile Arena from just about ev­ery an­gle to be able to recre­ate the Knights’ new home. Edmonton’s Rogers Place had pre­vi­ously got the same treat­ment.

“For us build­ing an arena in the game is al­most like build­ing an arena in real life, in terms of the way that we build it — look­ing at the schemat­ics of it, build­ing the ge­om­e­try out and then putting the tex­tures in to make it look (like) the right colour, the right fab­rics in­side the arena.”

NHL gam­ing new­bies can also get help via the new Train­ing Camp mode. It teaches you ev­ery­thing from a sim­ple pass to be­tween-the-legs deke via videos.

When you’re play­ing a game, video sug­ges­tions will ap­pear if you’re hav­ing trou­ble mas­ter­ing a skill.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

A new gen­er­a­tion of tal­ent in­clud­ing Con­nor McDavid, Aus­ton Matthews and Pa­trik Laine has not only en­er­gized the NHL, it has forced video game de­vel­op­ers to up their game.

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