Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Doug Miller on 07/30/11 at 08:45 PM ET
Late Friday night, as I awoke from my flu-induced coma, I quickly jumped online to check out what I (and many others) expected to be a major update from EA Sports regarding the new “Anticipation A.I.” in NHL 12. They had previously released a nice video-comparison showing the differences between the “old A.I.” of NHL 11 and the “new Anticipation A.I.” to be featured in NHL 12. So naturally, everyone had assumed that Friday’s update would be a new developer/producer blog that would further go into detail about this new feature, as had been the previous status quo set by EA. Further intimated by EA’s NHL 12 “features whiteboard” which under the “Anticipation A.I.” section stated: “More information coming July 29th!”
However, there was no new blog, new video, or really much of any new information at all. There was simply just an updated link on the whiteboard, which lead to a new page about the “Anticipation A.I.” - very similar to what had occurred earlier in the week on Wednesday regarding the new “Full Balance Control” system. Which came as a major disappointment to NHL-series fans, as well as myself, as it gave me very little to write about. For now though, let’s take a look at the “new” info regarding the Anticipation A.I. -
As per EA’s ‘updated’ hockey whiteboard on the Anticipation A.I.:
Offensive A.I.: NHL 12 takes a huge leap forward with the inclusion of Anticipation A.I. This year, players with offensive tendencies will read the play before their teammates even have possession of the puck and break for an offensive opportunity!
Defensive A.I.: Anticipation A.I will again change the way you play NHL 12 with the defensive A.I. Strong defensive plays will fill passing lanes and recognize when the opposition is going to gain possession. This means that a defenseman may decide to be conservative and back off in advance of the opposition getting the puck, or he might step up for a crushing hit!
Offside A.I.: In NHL 12 every inch is important and can make the difference between a win or a loss. That’s why computer controlled players will now fight to stay onside by dragging a leg, hugging the blue line while maintaining speed, or sprint to tag up.
Puck Support Analysis: Analysis Being able to quickly attack the opposition through the neutral zone is crucial in hockey, so in NHL 12 players will be able to recognize gaps in the defense to get to open ice and be ready for a pass. Computer controlled players will also support the puck carrier to make sure that they have a passing option.
Much More: Including New Offensive Zone Analysis, New Shot Analysis, and New Player Tendencies!
Nothing really noteworthy here, as all of this “new info” had previously been discussed in videos released by EA. However, it’s occurred to me in my time here at KK doing these “updates” on NHL 12, that not all of the readers have been following the NHL 12 news as closely as I have, and as such, it’s my duty to treat this stuff as new to you. So, I present you with the “new” (although it was previously released before) video for the Anticipation A.I. :
As I eagerly looked for more news to write about, I did manage to find two new “quick clips” (short game-play clips EA has been posting once a week) that I had yet to see, and so I bring those to you now as well, starting with one from last week that really shows off the new “stay onside logic” of the new A.I., as well as the new “skate-drag” animation available to both the A.I. as well as human controlled players:
Next up, is the quick clip released yesterday, showing off some of the new puck physics, or more specifically, how the puck is now “loose” on slap shots, which is something EA has talked about, but had yet to show us. Enjoy:
Now for the really fun stuff… the rumor mill, which was given a rather interesting jolt late Thursday night, after EA had invited members of the public into their Vancouver studio for a playtest, presumably the final one, as they are likely nearing their deadline of having the game go “gold” which is video game industry speak for finalized code before they start mass producing copies for release.
It seems the cat might have been let out of the bag regarding the mysterious and much speculated about “big announcement”. Although to be fair, the majority of the community had pretty much figured it out after NHL 12’s Line Producer, Sean Ramjagsingh, gave a live online Q&A during this year’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in late June. When asked about this “big announcement” he made several cryptic remarks, most notable were “It’s going to be something that both hockey fans, and non-hockey fans will enjoy” and “In all my years spent working on the NHL-series, this has been the most enjoyable and exciting thing I’ve gotten to work on”.
The conclusion that was drawn from this was that there would somehow be the inclusion of “Legends” into the game. Further reinforced by the tagline given to NHL 12, which is “Be the next great Legend”. This rumor remained just that, a rumor, until after that playtest, in which a user on the HFboards.com message boards made a post with his impressions of the playtest, which included a partial roster list of a “Legendary” team. The post was soon removed by one of the boards moderators stating that “No information from the playtest may be posted on HF. EA doesn’t want it posted here, apparently.”
However, the contents of this now deleted post managed to find their way over to EA’s NHL 12 Forum and as of the time of me writing this, has yet to have been deleted (although I suspect it will be in time). Although, the community over there is for the most part taking it as “complete BS”. Granted they have valid reasons for thinking this, but I’d also like to point out that the people over there are perhaps the most cynical and negative fan-base I’ve ever seen (yes, even more so than Detroit Lions fans).
I’ve been a little reluctant to post said information, as I’m still waiting to hear back from EA regarding my email on getting a review copy of NHL 12, but to be fair, they were supposed to contact me within 24 hours, and it’s been well over 72 hours at this point. However, I’m more than confident, knowing some of the people that I know, that I’ll be able to get my hands on the game early anyway, and in the process, not be subject to any of EA’s NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) which would prevent me from talking about anything they have yet to announce. So, without further delay, I shall throw caution to the wind and reveal the supposed partial roster list for the “Legendary” team to be included in NHL 12.
Legendary team includes:
Yzerman, Gretzky, Sedins, Malkin, St. Louis, Chara, Lemuiex, Chelios, Keith, Seabrook, Howe, Roy, Luongo, Bourque, Crosby, Richards (Don’t know if it Brad or Mike)... can’t remember the rest. But there’s only one Legendary team.
As you can see, it’s rather clear why many people on EA’s Forum called “BS” - due to the inclusion of several current players, many of whom by no means should be included on a team of “Legends”. The only current players I could see possibly being included on this list of “Legends” would be Lidstrom and Brodeur, as they are clearly no-brainer Hall of Famers (and I’m sure you could make arguments for a few other current players, i.e. Jagr). However, it is likely that it won’t be a be-all-end-all “Legends” list, as EA might not be able to get the rights to use certain players, like Terry Sawchuk for example.
However, for the sake of my own amusement, and a list that will likely prompt much discussion from you readers, here would be my “Legendary” team (line combinations in no particular order, just going off the top of my head):
Lemieux - Gretzky - Howe
Beliveau - Yzerman - Sakic
Bossy - Messier - Hull (Bobby - duh)
Clarke - M. Richard - Esposito
Orr - Lidstrom
Bourque - Coffey
Chelios - Stevens
Roy - Sawchuk
Every position on that list could easily include 5-6 more names that would be just as deserving (especially goaltenders), but as I said, that’s just going off the top of my head. I find it likely (as sad as it might be) that EA will probably disgrace that list with some current players (Lidstrom being one of the few acceptable exceptions)... but for the love of Orr, they better not include Seabrook… even diehard Hawks fans will agree he belongs nowhere near such an epic list.
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