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Parents' Guide to

NHL 21

By Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Gratifying hockey sim for fans of the sport.

Game Xbox One , PlayStation 4 2020
NHL 21 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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Is It Any Good?

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This year's hockey game is well worth the wait -- and the money. NHL 21 is an incredibly detailed, deep and gratifying hockey game for fans of the sport. It's easy to pick up, difficult to put down, and the developers have improved almost every aspect over previous games -- from mode selection and artificial intelligence to presentation and control. Longtime NHL players will no doubt appreciate the improved and expanded Be A Pro mode, which has a more polished and cinematic approach. You'll create a player from scratch and work your way up to become a pro athlete, but must make several decisions to keep your career going (with repercussions for many of the choices you make), based on making a "Star" or "Team" response, and you'll have to see how it works for fans, your career, and so on. Often there's no easy choice: for example, do you do more for charity that looks good to the media and your fan base, but means less money for you and your future? What you do on the ice also matters here, with a coaching system that gives you real-time feedback on your performance and how to improve (including stats to analyze your skill). NHL 21 offers some noticeable improvements to its skill moves, responsive player and puck handling, and more capable A.I. teammates, especially in the defense department, including better goaltending, too (though there are still a few eye-rolling cheap goals, as in past games). The new HUT RUSH is also a welcome addition to the Hockey Ultimate Team mode, as it introduces a faster and more arcade-like option for when you're not in the mood for a serious simulation. You complete and chain skill moves together for multiplier points, but doing the same moves reduces your score, which is added to a leaderboard for extra incentive.

The sleek graphics, animation and smooth frame rates all add to the overall visual package -- even with the promise of what's possible with next-generation consoles. NHL 21 players on PS4 and Xbox One won't be disappointed. On the audio front, the music, sound effects and of course competent commentary are all top-notch, too. With all these new additions, it's hard to complain about the Franchise mode, which is almost unchanged from NHL 20, with the exception of a couple of small trade-related updates. Overall, the ambitious NHL 21 shoots and scores. Hockey fans shouldn't wait to pick up this stellar sim.

Game Details

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