NHL 10 to focus on the physical side of the game/add first person fighting

by: Chuck -
Over the last few years we've seen EA's NHL franchise focus on the skill side of hockey (NHL 08's skill stick) and last year the focus was on defense.  EA is going to play to the other side of the best sport on Earth by covering the physical side of the game in NHL 10.

This isn't just about the fighting side of the game (although the game is getting a new first person fighting view which should make that part of the game that more entertaining) but the physical side of the game.  The thumping of players in the corners, cutting players off from the puck and the monster checks that are the marquee attraction of the sport.  It also sounds like the passing portion of the game has been touched up as well as you'll be able to bank passes off the boards and pass the puck into space for a teammate rocketing up the boards to chase down.

I'm interested to see how the game plays with the new elements as too much physical hockey can slow a game down to a crawl.  Hopefully the checks and balances of physical hockey make it into the game (miss that big hit and the guy you're checking has a straight path to the goalie).  I'm also interested to see how the new fighting engine works as the fighting (at least for me) has been the weakest part of the game the last few years.  Here are the first few screenshots to chew on.
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – May 14, 2009 – Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) today announced that EA SPORTS™ has innovated a new, physical brand of hockey that includes first-person fighting in NHL® 10 to match the toughness and emotional intensity real-world NHL players endure in pursuit of a Stanley Cup™ Championship.
The franchise that has won 19 sports game of the year awards over the past two years begins a new era with gameplay innovations that deliver a new standard of toughness, the emotion of playoff hockey on the ice and in the arena, and over 200 gameplay refinements that replicate the skill and finesse that every fan sees throughout the NHL playoffs.

A new first-person fighting engine enables players to trade punches with an NHL tough guy. Feel what it’s like to be on the ice in the skates of an NHL player to throw and dodge punches. Grab and tug an opponent’s jersey to land a punch that ignites the fans and sparks your team to victory. Challenge a skill player and an opposing team tough guy will step in to settle the score.

On ice toughness and intimidation is taken to a new level in NHL 10 where winning one-on-one battles for possession of the puck along the boards becomes a test of will and skill. Utilizing an all-new board physics engine, players can use their body to shield the puck on the boards and then kick-pass it to teammates. Bigger, stronger players pin opponents to the boards while fanatical fans bang on the glass, just like real life. Fore-check defenders, pressure the puck and finish checks to intimidate your opponent into mistakes. Players fatigue, bobble passes, and avoid collisions under threat of constant physical pressure. Inspire teammates, ignite the fans and change the momentum of a game by instigating scrums, drawing penalties, and mixing it up — all after the referee blows the whistle!

“This is the most authentic simulation of hockey we have ever created,” said Producer David Littman, a former NHL and minor league goaltender now in his eighth year working on the NHL franchise. “The Stanley Cup is the most difficult trophy in all of sports to win and NHL 10 replicates the emotion, intensity and toughness players require to win the Cup.”

NHL 10 features more than 200 gameplay refinements that replicate the skill and finesse of hockey and deliver the most responsive and authentic action ever for the series. Players can one-time loose pucks, score from their knees, knock pucks out of the air and lift a leg to fake a shot on goal. A new 360° precision passing mechanic delivers control over the speed and direction of passes so players can bank passes off the boards or play the puck into space for teammates to skate on to it. Plus, all-new interactive crowds bring the emotion of playoff hockey to life with towel-waving fans, glass bangers and crowds that react to the action on the ice.

Prove you are tough enough to quiet the crowd, silence the opposition and survive a playoff run to lift the Stanley Cup in NHL 10.

NHL 10 will be available in stores this September for the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system with an MSRP of $59.99. It is developed under the EA SPORTS brand by EA Canada in Burnaby, B.C. The game has not been rated.

EA SPORTS™ is the leading interactive sports software brand in the world, with top-selling titles and franchises including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA LIVE basketball, NCAA® Football, and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR®
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