NHL 13 PS3 Review

NHL 13 Cover
NHL 13 Cover. Image © EA Sports

As if you weren’t addicted enough to NCAA Football 13 or too deep into your Connected Career on Madden NFL 13, EA Sports is already set to give you another sports game addiction in the remarkable NHL 13, one of the most impressive sports simulations ever made. There may be no actual hockey for some time (as the players are still being locked out as of this review) but you can still have your own season with your favorite team. The on-ice physics here, promoted as “True Performance Skating” by the developers, are stunning with a new level of detail in the way momentum can take you toward the goal, along the boards, or into the back of your opponent. The authenticity of the experience heightens the gameplay to the point that NHL 13 becomes as riveting as watching actual hockey. The refined mechanics combined with the typical-for-EA depth of gameplay modes and fan-centric presentation combine to make arguably the best hockey game of all time.


  • Publisher: EA Sports
  • Developer: EA Sports
  • ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
  • Genre: Sports
  • Pros: Improved On-Ice Physics, Enhanced Presentation, Remarkable Depth of Gameplay
  • Cons: Arguable Overkill For Those Looking For Quick Play

It’s all about hockey. As with most EA Sports games, NHL 13 offers fans a wide variety of ways to play their favorite game. The first option in any sports game will be “Play Now,” allowing players to grab a stick and hit the ice against the CPU, online, or against an actual friend with another controller in the same room. But a quick game between your favorite teams is merely the beginning. “GM Connected” offers depth from an administrative level and can be customized down to salary cap and every imaginable rule of the game. You can really create your own league online or offline. “Playoff Mode,” “Tournament Mode,” “Be a Pro,” “NHL Moments Live” – there’s more than one way to experience hockey and NHL 13 presents them all.

Game Details

The menus of NHL 13 have been altered to allow “Team-First Presentation.” What that means is that you pick your favorite team and they’ll be the one to come up first in whatever mode you choose and even be your background on menu screens. From that set-up, the player can choose from dozens of teams (not just the NHL but everyone who picks up a hockey stick around the world, including international organizations) to take in any number of gameplay modes, most of which have been tweaked with notable improvements and enhancements since NHL 12.

The majority of said enhancements center around something EA calls “EA Sports Hockey I.Q.” It’s a new A.I. system that allows for much more realistic on-ice gameplay from all players. In other words, it’s no longer just about who you’re controlling at any given moment. Your teammates will run offensive and defensive strategies that you can program or pick on the fly and respond more believably than they ever have before in a hockey game. The improved A.I. on both sides of the rink makes for a more intense and enjoyable experience.

Once again, the level of customization in NHL 13 is stunning. Not only can you adjust every element of gameplay through numerous menu screens but you can watch replays from numerous angles, input your own coaching strategies into your franchise, or just build your own All-Star through the “Be a Pro” system. There’s not a single area of NHL 13 in which I felt like, “Oh, I wish I could do X or Y.” It was more that I couldn’t believe the number of options I was given than I was ever seeking one that wasn’t presented.

But it’s all about how it plays on the ice. There’s fluidity to the movement here that’s never been present in a hockey game before. The way a player crashes into the boards or tries to make a quick turn to the net instead of going around it – you’ve never seen hockey realism like this before in a video game. I played for hours looking for glitches in the gameplay – movements that felt wrong or animations that seemed repetitive or awkward – and I just became more and more impressed with the way NHL 13 plays from minute to exciting minute.

Graphics & Sound

I recently complained about antiquated levels of detail in some sports games but there are no complaints here. Whether it’s from overhead in which the animations look more fluid and accomplished than ever before or the insane variety of personalities behind the glass, NHL 13 looks incredible. And the sound is just as accomplished with a rocking soundtrack on the menus and the sound of bones crunching on the ice.


It’s been the best year in video game history for fans of sports simulations. MLB 12 The Show is the best baseball game of all time. NCAA Football 13 and Madden NFL 13 rocked the Summer and continue to serve as daily addictions for many players. And we still have FIFA Soccer 13 and NBA 2K13 to really push this year over the top. With all of these option combined with the lockout of actual NHL players and delay of the hockey season, I could see NHL 13 getting lost in the mix. I truly hope that doesn’t happen since this might actually be the best sports game of them all.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.