There are two sides to EA Sports’ NHL 15. First you’ve got the current-gen release, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Smooth handling, gorgeous graphics, and a top-notch presentation are balanced by a relatively bare selection of game modes to choose from. It plays great, but it’s not exactly overflowing with different ways to play hockey.
Then there’s the last-gen edition, for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is in every way a sequel to NHL 14. The menus, the basic interface, the hockey handling… it’s all close to or identical to what EA delivered in 2013. It isn’t quite as smooth or as pretty as the current-gen release, but it’s packed with all of the modes a fan might want, including stuff like the NHL 94 Anniversary mode that was introduced in 2013.
Two sides of the same coin. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. We’ll get into all of that when we review NHL 15 in the near future. Until then, here’s a look at what sets the two apart visually.
As you can see in the video above, there’s significantly more detail in the current-gen release. Not only do the ice and painted logos look much more realistic, they also show convincing wear as skates chew the surface up over the course of a game. The player animations are also considerably more true to life, from the way each skater shifts his weight to the fluttering of jerseys as they cut across the rink.
The off-ice presentation also gets an upgrade on the current-gen edition. Announcers Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick and Eddie Olczyk shot live-action pre-game commentary in front of a green screen for NHL 15, and it only shows up on PS4/XB1. There’s more pre-game commentary in general on the new consoles, with individual player profiles and goalie breakdowns, as well as live action footage of the game’s arena exterior.
The question we’re left with: Is a fancier presentation enough to make up for the disparity in content that each version of the game offers? We’ll have a decisive answer for you on that soon, once our review publishes.