The cover of NHL 12, featuring Steven Stamkos
|Genre(s)||Sports (ice hockey)|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, Multiplayer, Online multiplayer|
NHL 12 is an ice hockey video game developed by EA Canada and published by EA Sports. The game was released between September 8–13, 2011, in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and North America. The game was featured in the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Steven Stamkos was announced as the game's cover athlete on June 22, 2011, at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The game notably includes more interactive goalies (i.e. players can have real contact with the goalies and vice versa, and the goalies and skaters may fight each other), better physics engine, improved Be a Pro mode, and the ability to play the 2011 NHL Winter Classic.
Along with several other new EA Sports titles, NHL 12 was made available three days prior the official release dates to purchasers of the EA Sports Season Ticket, a new digital program allowing users with a PlayStation 3 and/or an Xbox 360 to download and test the full version of new EA Sports titles for a three-day trial period by paying an annual fee of $24.99 or 2,000 Microsoft points. Users who pre-ordered the retail version of the game may have received a code for a goalie boost pack, which improves certain parts of the player's goalie in the Be a Pro mode.
- Stanley Cup Finals patches appear on the jerseys of the two teams when playing for the Stanley Cup.
- Players have the ability to hit the goalies and vice versa.
- Goalies are, for the first time with the current game engine that was introduced in NHL 07, able to fight players and each other.
- The Be a Pro mode is more authentic. New additions include the ability to start in the CHL and play there for up to four seasons, play through 18 career levels, be drafted in the NHL Entry Draft, get tasks from the coach, simulate games to the player's next shift, and break historic records. 
- Improved physics allow for more realistic hits with helmets coming off, players being hit into the bench, knucklepuck shots, shattered glass, and improved puck movements.
- Players don't as easily lose total balance if they're hit as with the previous games. For example, a player might use their hands or stumble to his knees to regain balance if hit.
- In the Be a GM mode, players are able to use retired jerseys. For this reason, certain jersey numbers may be excluded to the players. The Be a GM mode is more authentic with things like salaries designed for rookie players, and more accurate injuries.
- Players are able to play the 2011 NHL Winter Classic at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field with fans donning Winter Classic gear.
- Players are able to create female hockey players in the game.
- An all-new feature, the Action Tracker, tracks games' every occurrence and allows players to intervene in simulated games when needed.
- Simulated statistics and results are completely dependent on the players' playing style and ratings.
- Improved trading logic makes it much more difficult to trade for elite players in the Be a GM mode.
- For the first time ever, NHL legends are included in the game and are fully functional in any modes. The legends are Ray Bourque, Chris Chelios, Steve Yzerman, Patrick Roy, Jeremy Roenick, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, Börje Salming and Wayne Gretzky. A "Legends" team is included in the game as part of the legends feature. However, in order to be used in the Be a Pro mode, they have to be unlocked by breaking the milestones that they set during their careers.
- The presentation has been revamped, as explained in interviews of players' improved appearance, improving the player's personality on the ice. Over 100 new faces have been put in place into the create player feature, including 2 female faces. A new graphical user interface (GUI) is included.
Leagues and teams
NHL 12 includes seven professional leagues: the National Hockey League (NHL), American Hockey League (AHL), Czech Extraliga, SM-liiga, Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), Elitserien (SEL), and National League A (NLA). The game also includes the Canadian Hockey League, which is composed of three Junior leagues: the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and Western Hockey League (WHL). Although the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) is ranked as the top professional European league, it has never been included in the NHL series (though the former Russian Superleague was included in NHL 09), nor is it included in NHL 12. In the CHL, the game also includes the teams in the 2008 CHL Top Prospects Game, "Team White" and "Team Red". As part of the new legends feature, there is a "Legends" team that statistically has 100% in both offense, defence, as well as goaltending. The game also includes national teams, but because of lacking rights to the IIHF license, official jerseys for the national teams are not used. This also means that no international tournaments are included in the game.
The Växjö Lakers Hockey team replaces Södertälje SK in the Elitserien league, as the Växjö Lakers Hockey team managed to qualify for the 2011–12 Elitserien season at the expense of Södertälje SK. EHC München, promoted to the DEL in 2010, replaces the Kassel Huskies. The Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL have been relocated to Victoria, British Columbia for the start of the 2011–12 WHL season and are therefore replaced by the Victoria Royals, the name of the relocated franchise. The Montreal Junior Hockey Club in the QMJHL has been relocated to Blainville-Boisbriand to become the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, which therefore replaces the Montreal Junior Hockey Club. In the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets replace the Atlanta Thrashers, following the team's sale and relocation to Winnipeg.
The demo of NHL 12 was released on August 23, 2011, at the Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Store (PSN Store). In Europe the demo at the PSN Store was released the following day. The demo includes three modes: the Play Now and Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT) modes are included from the NHL 11 demo, but the new addition in the NHL 12 demo is the Be a Pro mode, which includes the new Action Tracker. The Play Now mode allows players to simulate a 2011 Stanley Cup Finals game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins to the third period and play from there. By trying the HUT mode, players may win two packs of cards, but another pack may be earned if the player invites a friend to play the NHL 12 demo.
|NHL 12 Soundtrack|
|Against Me!||"Occult Enemies"|
|Beady Eye||"Standing on the Edge of the Noise"|
|Billy Idol||"Mony Mony"|
|Black Tide||"That Fire"|
|Bush||"The Sound of Winter"|
|Death Letters||"I Wish I Could Steal a Sunset"|
|Dropkick Murphys||"Hang 'Em High"|
|Electric Light Orchestra||"Don't Bring Me Down"|
|Judas Priest||"You've Got Another Thing Comin'"|
|Manchester Orchestra||"April Fool"|
|Middle Class Rut||"Busy Bein' Born"|
|Murderdolls||"Whatever You Got, I'm Against It"|
Like most recent games in the series, NHL 12 received very positive reviews. As of May 2012, Metacritic has an aggregated review score of 87/100, while GameRankings' aggregated score for the game is 89/100. GameTrailers gave the game a 9.2/10, stating that the gameplay "just feels more alive," but were somewhat frustrated that they "did manage to find a technique to score a little too often," and also noted that the game "looks almost identical to last year's effort." They praised the EA Sports developers however, describing them as a team unwilling to believe that an "amazing" product is enough. The "Be A Legend" mode, however, did not get much of the same praise; Gametrailers said that the mode "feels like a missed opportunity."
PlayStation Universe (PSU) gave the game a 9.0/10, while their average user score is 8.0/10. Their reviewer, Adam Dolge, described it as "yet another terrific hockey game, and well worth the attention of any puck fan." They mainly praised the gameplay improvements, noting the A.I. and the physics engine, which has been enhanced as well. They also praised the revamped presentation of the game. However, PSU agreed with Gametrailers that the new "Be a Legend" mode is not well thought-out, and also criticized the Be a Pro camera angle. They also believe that the Be a GM mode needs to be revamped.
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