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NHL '09 is basically crack cocaine in HD-DVD form. I haven't had a game like this give me such a head-lightening erection since... well, any game that has, I wouldn't remember it, but this game is absolutely incredible to the point where I considered calling out of work today so I could stay home and play it. And maybe saying "I has an erection!" about an NHL hockey game with only male players is gay, but if liking NHL '09 makes me gay, well, bring on the Wham! albums (which I can use as arena music!), get me a Rainbow Nation shirt, and invest in Astroglide.

All of the time I've spent playing has been spent in Be A Pro mode. This is similar to the same mode that's in FIFA, in which I take on the role of an NHL player, but in honesty, it's implemented VERY well! You are asked when you first boot up to create a persona, which is just like regular CAP mode, except you don't effect statistics. Therefore, I created myself, but thankfully, you can edit Goaltender, as well as Player statistics. One awesome thing I've noticed: there is vintage equipment in the game now, especially for the goalies. That's one thing, but they finally - FINALLY - have the type of helmet I would still wear if anyone would let me: the Jofa 235 that used to be work by everyone in the 80s, that people mostly associate with Gretzky. Seriously, take a look at this thing, and imagine me, with my eight concussions, wearing it. Most leagues ban them now, unfortunately - they're not HECC certified - but I can wear it in the game! 8D Sorry, that's a big deal to me. XD

Now, I started two separate BAP careers; one a couple nights ago, the other this morning.

Chris Bowen, D, Vancouver Canucks

I started as a defenceman in the Canucks system. Here's one indication that I'm old: I considered myself too old to be starting out as a rookie, so I knocked my age down a few years. I'm now officially younger than Aileen (May 23, 1988). I decided that I was a defencive defenceman, who fought a lot. Basically, the same thing I am in real life~

After starting the mode, I reported to the Manitoba Moose, where I learned... that playing as one player, and ONLY one player, was a bit different than I was used to. I am used to essentially backing myself up in games like this; I can play aggressively, because I know how to get my other four players to patch up any over-aggressive mistakes that I make. But you can't do that in this game; if I make a mistake, my teammates aren't going to be there to pick me up, because they're handling their own end of things, and not what I think they should be handling. Furthermore, you're graded, and if you do something bad, it will hurt you, or even if you don't do anything bad, sometimes, your score can plummet. Lugged the puck up to centre ice? Didn't block a shot? Took a shot that went wide? Watch your "Team Play" score plummet! Shit, just by default, the "stats" category starts at C. Furthermore, when I change, I come off the ice for real; unless I specifically set this to "don't change" or "same position", I come off, and watch the time I'm not on from the bench. When you start out on your team's third pairing, that's a bit of a bother, simply because you have to force your team to change if you want any kind of decent ice time. That's not something you want to do much on the third pairing, because when you do that, you're stuck with a third pairing player as your partner, and he's usually poor.

I do have to say, there's a different type of exhilaration playing as only one player than playing as all five of them. Mistakes tend to get amplified, but so do successes. When your team scores - which is crucial, plus-minus is the most important stat as a defenceman - it feels great, especially if you got an assist, and when you score, it's absolutely priceless; I whooped and hollared when I scored my first Moose goal, and saved my first Canucks goal for posterity, better because it was a power play goal (what was I doing on the fucking power play?) that won the game.

It's funny listening to the announcers when I shoot the puck, whether it goes in or not. Here's some of the things they say when I get stopped:

"The goaltender gets credit for a save, but I think they should only give him half of one. An enforcer trying to put one in... that's not gonna work."

"There's a mismatch, an enforcer against a goaltender, the goalie makes the easy save."

"We can call those hands 'suspect'. An enforcer shooting the puck, and it goes well wide."

It's even funnier when I score:

"Bill, that was... a pretty goal!" "Yeah, they say an enforcer can't do things like score? He's branching out!"

"Look at this, the enforcer getting on the scoresheet!" "He usually uses those hands for other reasons, but it's great to see him softening them up a bit!"

(on a RARE RARE RARE deke)"Bill, that defenceman scored in what is, for him, uncharted territory!" "Exactly! What in the world is he doing up there!?"

Long story short, eventually, I moved up all the way to the Moose's first pairing, and soon got my shot with the Canucks, playing my first game in LA (to a hip-hop remix of "I Love LA", at that! I wish other arenas had something similar...). I got my first point in that game, too. But eventually... I moved up to the second pairing, making me go "Okay...", considering I was statistically a third pairing player... and I must have done well, because I moved up to the first pairing after that. This was a bit ridiculous to me; this put me second on the depth chart, behind Ohlund, and AHEAD of Willie Mitchell, who is statistically our best defenceman. By all rights, I shouldn't be higher than fourth on the depth chart because of my ratings (which raise slowly). Furthermore, playing with Ohlund is a bitch; he likes to move up and roam a lot, and he's too random about switching sides (making me veer left, or worse, getting us tied up together); he leaves me hanging a lot, which is... strikingly similar to what he's like in real life, actually. I wish I was a left defenceman, because I'd probably play better next to Mitchell. Hell, I had a better time playing alongside Nolan Baumgartner in Manitoba, not to mention Sami Salo (who likes to stay at the blueline and bomb shots, or as I like to call him, an assist vending machine. Put in a puck, get a point).

As of right now, I think we're about 30 or so games into the season, and leading Nashville for the top spot in the conference; essentially, Nashville's a point behind, and just behind them are, I think, the Blackhawks (!!!). I've got 15 NHL games to my credit, and shockingly, 3 goals and 11 assists; I have no right averaging nearly a point a game, and didn't come close to that in the AHL. I also have 32 PIMs, which leads my team, but is much, much less than the 50 in 10 games I had in Manitoba (that's right, I averaged a fight a game. Not all intentional; note to self, ask EA to move the "hook" button and the "initiate fight" buttons to different areas). I'm also plus 15 on the season, which is good for someone that needs to be +14. Unlike "regular" NHL seasons, I'm very much looking forward to the playoffs; it's one thing to win as a team, but to win as a gear in a large machine... I can't wait for the chance.

Of course, being a goaltender in real life, I had to try that out as well. So I randomized my choice; I didn't want to play in Vancouver (and do what, rot behind Luongo?), nor New York (hello, Henrik!). So I decided to randomize my choice, deciding that as long as it wasn't New York or Vancouver I'd stick with it.

... The results couldn't have turned out much worse. Not only am I stuck behind a top-shelf goaltender, but... ugh...

Chris Bowen, G, ... Quad City Flames

I'm in the FLAMES organization? What, was Edmonton too bustling? Why must fate taunt me so? Not only am I stuck behind Kipper... I'm in the FLAMES ORGANIZATION!?

Also, goaltending in BAP mode, while not as hard as it was in '08, is still a bitch. While it's not a problem to stop long shots - hell, it even gives you an arrow to keep your angles (though it's misleading on angled shots; too many times, I'd see my pads outside the posts, which wastes space) - when things get going in front of the net, it's very hard to keep position, to the point where I've taken to just getting far back in the net, and praying, because if I play any angle aggressively, there's too much of a lag between my button press and my goaltender getting any kind of required lateral movement to catch up, and I get beat. Being far back in the net seems to be a good strategy for the most part, which is bad when you're 5'9" and play a standup style by default; I'm good for top corner shots, but I get killed - KILLED - on rebounds. Just like real life!

Remember the emotional feelings I described being a defenceman for the Canucks? They're there as a goaltender, only ten times worse. I think I woke my mother up the other night screaming "FUCK!" after a late, game-tying goal, where I couldn't do much because my teammate couldn't clear a long rebound. The same euphoria of a rare shutout (rare, my team is not good), and of course, the same stress, the same need for zen-like concentration, and the same feeling of dread as a lead against us opens, not to mention the same feeling of "I have to keep this" as we get a lead. It's generally a stressful experience with a load of pressure, especially considering the fact that the video game coaches don't care if I gave up a goal because my D coughed it up in front of me; they care that the puck went in the net, no further questions.

This is not exactly what I play video games for.

It doesn't help that I haven't QUITE gotten it yet; I guess too much, which is a good way to have something happen and the puck go in the net. Furthermore, it's virtually impossible to read video game players; when I played, I was an intelligent player who, in high level hockey, got by reading the play, reading the shooters, and learning little tricks; how the stick curves to go where, what's going on when the puck is tight, how to read around screens, etc. There's none of that in this game, so basically, the best I can hope for is to play my angles, and hope the puck hits me, which it does about 88% of the time. I haven't been promoted, though I'm getting the lion's share of the starts with Quad City (which is, apparently, in Michigan. Could have fooled me, though I find that kinda silly; last I checked, Alberta was quite far from wherever the fuck in Illinois the Flames play out of, though that's not quite as bad as the Los Angeles Kings having their AHL affiliate in Manchester, NH. :')

Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, I'll get good at goaltending in this game. If I do, my value in online games goes up exponentially, as there seem to be no good goaltenders online. And then I'll REALLY start to have fun. After all, the game's no fun as a goaltender if the puck's behind you. :')

Later, I think I'm going to play with something that is totally sweet: the custom soundtrack option for introductions! I can see it now... Calgary going out to the Bret Hart theme... the Hurricanes - with their Greensboro connection - going out to the Four Horseman theme from the old WCW days... and because I'm petty, the Flyers and Oilers going out to "It's Rainin' Men". >:D


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)

You in QC. >:D This game sounds fucking entertaining if I have the time. XD
Sep. 17th, 2008 07:22 am (UTC)
Hey Bus, Good news! I managed to track down a copy of NHL08. Does it have a good career mode or is that new in 09?
Sep. 17th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
That's '09; '08 has standard stuff like Franchise mode, but feature wise, no it's not as good as '09.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Mr. Met
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