A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This game aims to replicate the National Hockey League (NHL) experience so players can hit the ice as their favorite team. It showcases team sports, and pro hockey fans can play as their idols, but hockey is definitely a contact sport that allows fistfights during games.
Positive Role Models
You don't play as a particular character unless you want to create an NHL star from scratch, so there isn't one protagonist to serve as a role model. That said, the characters look like their real-life counterparts. If they're positive role models in real life, it can be argued the same goes for the game -- but the opposite is true, too.
Ease of Play
Playing NHL 15 is quite easy thanks to intuitive console controls. One analog stick controls the hockey player's body, while the other lets you shoot and pass in a given direction. You also can use the controller face buttons to pass and shoot.
Violence & Scariness
Hockey is a fast and physical sport. Although the players wear protective gear, gamers can slam into opposing characters, sandwich them against the boards, and even engage in a fistfight. When this happens, the camera focuses on the two players, and it becomes a brawling mini-game of sorts.
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Products & Purchases
The game has ads, just like real hockey arenas. They can be found on the edges of the rink, on the ice, in the stands, on the Jumbotron, or worn on the players. Brands include Honda, Tim Hortons, LG, Bauer, CCM, Reebok, EA Sports, NBC Sports, and many others. The game also will offer downloadable content, including a free update that adds missing features to the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that NHL 15 is a professional hockey simulation that can be mildly violent at times, such as when you bodycheck someone, crush other players against the boards, or get in a fistfight on the ice. But if you're OK with your kids watching NHL games on television or in person, then you'll likely be fine with them playing this. Just as in real-life games, be ready for lots of ads! Players also can engage in online play, which could subject them to inappropriate comments.
Is It Any Good?
On one hand, the game looks exceptional -- especially the PlayStation 4 version -- from the player models and movement to the realistic crowds (supporting up to 9,000 individual spectator models) and broadcast-style replays. It also feels pretty good with the new control scheme, smarter AI players, and puck physics. But, although the next-generation versions benefit from added realism and presentation, the PS4 and Xbox One versions lack many of the modes found in the PS3 and Xbox 360 games, features that have been standard in previous versions.
In a blog post just before the game's release, EA Sports said that, in addition to the roster and ratings updates, free content will be added, including a Playoff Mode (allowing players to create a custom offline tournament bracket with up to 16 teams), Be A Pro - Coach Feedback (get the coach’s feedback while you're on the bench), 3 Stars of the Game (applied to every game mode), Online Team Play, GM Draft mode, and more. Hopefully bugs will be fixed, too, such as commentators saying the wrong thing and AI glitches. But, even with these shortcomings, NHL 15 surely will satiate hockey fans -- especially after the free updates are available this fall (UPDATE: EA Sports has since released two updates to address issues and add new features; details can be found here and here). It's just too bad EA Sports didn't have them ready when the game skated onto store shelves.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.