Let’s take a pop quiz — all gamers, not just sports fans. I’m going to show you this video on the “Enforcer Engine”, which is the remade way to fight in NHL 14. Don’t take any physical notes. Then I want you to wait 30 seconds before reading and answering the following questions. Ready?
1) How do you start a clinch?
2) What does holding the R2 button do when you are clinched?
3) How do you throw an overhand punch?
4) How do you block an incoming punch while in free skate?
5) What control pushes or pulls your opponent?
Sure, yes, you got 100 per cent because you’re better than me at NHL (everyone is) and you can kick my arse in real life too. Right, I know, yeah. When I first watched this, my RAM was completely filled up by the time the guy was talking about the essential act of fighting — punching. Of course, they’re talking about punching when you’re locked up in the clinch. They don’t say how to punch in free skate, which I will assume is how I’ve always done it in NHL 13 — spam the hell out of the right stick.
Last year’s controls were two sticks: left one controls dodging and tugging/pushing, right one is is for punching. And while the new commands appear to correspond through the three phases of free skate, clinch, and the hold-down, the complexity added to fighting this year makes me feel like I went to NHL and EA Sports UFC broke out.
This is a hockey simulation, and there is fighting in hockey, and so there should be fighting in this video game. I get that, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t work on this the way they do any other phase of the game. But I sure hope NHL 14 features a tutorial in which you can do nothing but fight, just to imprint the commands on muscle memory. Otherwise, I’ll continue to fight in NHL the way I do in real life — by not getting into one in the first place.