Originally posted on Philly Sports Live  |  Last updated 9/12/12

Yes, this is a review of NHL 13.  Why?  Because Flyers All-Star and fan favorite Claude Giroux is the cover boy this year.  Also, with the lockout looming, NHL 13 might be the only hockey Flyers fans will get to experience this season.

GAMEPLAY: NHL 13 plays a lot differently then the last couple of installments of the popular hockey franchise.  This comes as a pleasant surprise, as there was not much separating NHL 11 and 12 as far as new features were concerned.  With the new True Performance Skating feature, players are more in control of their team  and skaters then ever.  Don’t let that fool you though.  More control means more realism and difficulty.  This means no stopping and starting in a blink of an eye.  If you stop skating, it takes time to accelerate your player.  So if you miss a tackle and the opposing player has the puck, you won’t necessarily be able to catch up with him in time to stop him taking a shot at net.  Lucky for you, Bryz is pretty solid in this years installment.

True Performance Skating also allows for your skater to skate backwards, adding more eb and flow to an already pristine skating system.  This can help both defensively and offensively during the run of play.  TPS also adds more realism to hits.  Depending on how fast or slow you’re going will determine how hard the hit on the opposing player is.  At one point, I hit a player so hard against the boards, the glass broke.  Other times, you might actually get knocked down trying to hit a bigger player.

GRAPHICS: The graphics in NHL 13 are exceptional, holding to the standard the series has put forward throughout the past few years.  The player faces really stick out this year and are more realistic then ever.  When you score a goal with Danny Briere, you almost feel like you are Danny Briere.  The goal celebrations, the black eyes; it all adds to the realism of the graphics.  The new goalie camera is a nice new touch this year that is used during replays.  When you score a goal, the replay will sometimes go to this cam, with it being purposefully more pixelated then other camera views.

SOUND: The ice getting torn up by skates, the horn blowing after scoring a goal; these sounds bring NHL 13 alive more then ever.  The sounds of a hockey game help build a fans experience when they step foot in the arena, and in NHL 13, there is more of an emphasis on brining those sounds to life.  Being able to add your own custom audio is one of the ways to bring your home arena to life (I quickly put DOOP as the Flyers goal celebration music), letting you fully customize your team’s themes so that they are as accurate as possible.  The commentating from Clemente and Thorne is solid, but a bit repetitive, but still serves as one of the better commentating teams in sports video games.

OVERALL: NHL 13 definitely raises the bar this year, earning a PSL 9.0.  The gameplay is as solid as ever, thinning the line between realism and simulation.  The features are rich, the sounds are superb and Claude Giroux is on the cover.  The only blemish is the game’s menu system.  The menu’s can sometimes be hard to navigate and are slow to your touch.  Loading times could also be better, but aside from that, NHL 13 is amazing.  With the strong possibility of no actual hockey this year, NHL 13 may be your only outlet.

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