A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Like previous games in this series, NHL 19 aims to replicate the National Hockey League (NHL) experience. Players can hit the ice as their favorite team. It showcases team sports, competition, perseverance, but hockey is a contact sport that allows for fistfights during games.
Positive Role Models
Players look like their real-life counterparts, so if they're a positive role model in real life, it can be argued the same goes for the game -- but the opposite is true, too. You can play as Wayne Gretzky (aka "The Great One"), who's a fantastic role model for kids (along with other legends of the game).
Ease of Play
Very easy to pick up and play, thanks to a tutorial/training mode, multiple game modes, and improvements on controls for both platforms. One analog stick controls the hockey player's body while the other lets you shoot and pass in a given direction (with vibration feedback for shooting and passing).
Violence & Scariness
Like previous games, players can slam into opposing characters, sandwich them against the boards, even engage in a fistfight. When this happens, the camera focuses on the two players and it becomes a brawling mini-game of sorts. No blood's shown.
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Products & Purchases
Branding shows up in game just as in real hockey arenas. It can be on the edges of the rink, on the ice, in the stands, on the jumbotron, or worn on players themselves. Examples include Best Buy, CCM, Reebok, EA Sports, Honda, Adidas. Supports optional pay elements for some online play modes.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that NHL 19 is the latest installment in the hockey simulation franchise for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Gameplay can be mildly violent at times, with hockey players body-checking opponents, crushing them against the boards, or engaging in a fistfight on the ice, although no blood is shown. While there's no other inappropriate content to be found in the game, there's a ton of advertising in stadiums, on players, on the ice, and during the game presentation. Players can also spend real money to unlock additional content for some game modes.
Is It Any Good?
While there are a few slips here and there on the ice, this is easily worth the price of admission for hockey fanatics. The first thing fans of NHL 19 will notice are the sheer number of game modes you can choose from. This isn't a game you can bore of easily, because of the numerous ways to play -- whether you want a quick pickup game by yourself, with a friend beside you, or online. Playing outside on frozen ponds and other rinks looks and feels great, and kicks it up a notch when you start spending virtual currency on unlocking new street apparel for your players. Along with the deep Be a Pro career mode, the engaging Franchise mode is a blast for those looking for more content. It adds in GM considerations, including new scouting options, trades, salary cap considerations, and many more decisions you need to make on and off the ice. If you want more of an arcade experience, Threes is super fun as a fast-paced 3-versus-3 game.
A special treat for serious hockey fans, inclusion of the hockey legends in the game will be enough to justify the new disc or download, since there are so many you can play as or against in the new Pro-Am mode, which features a series of challenges. Of course, all the existing teams are here too (even the Las Vegas Golden Knights), along with the option to play as other leagues, such as the AHL (American Hockey League), national teams, and several international leagues from Europe and elsewhere. The presentation quality is top-notch, with broadcast-like graphics and bone-crushing sound effects. More importantly, the controls are fast and responsive. One minor disappointment is with the new CHEL hub tied to the fun, over-the-top Ones mode, played on ponds. What's the issue? This 1v1v1 game is online-only -- so you can't play with someone beside you. Apart from this, and the lack of a Switch version, NHL 19 is great, delivering many different modes, players, and locations and improved controls and production values. Hockey lovers will no doubt want to lace up and play this one for many months to come.
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.