Thursday, July 16, 2009

NHL 10 Wish List: Fantasy Draft

As the anticipation for NHL 10 mounts, we will put up a weekly post related to the buzz. Perhaps one week we'll take a look at what the 2K series could do to gain some ground against EA, but for the most part we'll list an item on our "Wish List." This could either be an additional feature or a glitch we hope is burned in the flames of polygonal hell. Feel free to share your personal Wish Lists, too.

To start things off, we'd happily like to share the fact that NHL '10 will feature something we've been clamoring for since the series moved to next-gen consoles: a "Fantasy Draft." (H/T to Fear the Fin for RT-ing that.)

For those of you unaware of what a Fantasy Draft is, we'll first say that it is as nerdy as it sounds. It's also kind of cool, if you're dorky enough to imagine it happening in the actual NHL.

Basically, though, the Fantasy Draft allows users to put EVERY NHL player in one big draft. The fun comes in many forms: who do you pick first? Do you go with Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin? Perhaps you appeal to your inner Lemaire and draft a defenseman. Then again, sometimes a great goalie can really tip the digi-scales.

If the NHL decided to re-draft its league, would one of these guys be your #1 pick?

Either way, these are pretty fun little activities to do with friends. No longer can your buddy complain that his team sucks since, after all, he's the one who picked the players. There's also a "lottery" aspect to it: if I choose player A will player B still be around later?

Anyway, it's pretty fun and could be excessive/a real blast if they are available in online leagues. Could you imagine screaming at people to hurry up and make their 15th-round pick already? Gold!

Since this first addition of the Wish List feature lacks suspense, check out Gross Misconduct for a fun little post where he took screen shots of newly minted free agents playing on their new teams. (It's kind of weird seeing Gionta in Montreal)

Not to "bury the lead" here, but if you were starting a team and the league did a real-life Fantasy Draft, who would you pick? Ah, the potential Crosby bashing that will ensue ...


Joe said...

They'd better have multiplayer franchises this year. Franchise mode should not be limited to one player. Here's a post that made its way from HFBoards to a piracy forum I frequent. No clue about the accuracy of the info, but if its all true, its pretty sweet.

I'm pretty sure it's all real, because the thread he posted it in on HFBoards got deleted. He def. violated all those contract obligations people sign when they attend those previews or whatever. Anyways, get a whiff of this.

"Well guys, as I said in the earlier thread, I got another chance to give NHL10 a hands on test drive, and this time, I was able to spend much, much more time with the game (and it appeared to be a slightly more advanced build.)

David Littman said the build that was showcased yesterday was 95 percent done (and the actual gameplay end of things was about 99 percent done.)

I was able to play four full games, and poked around and looked at a lot of the menus, new features, etc. so I have a lot more information and should be able to answer a lot more questions.

Let me just tell you a bunch of random stuff, and if anyone has any questions, I can try to answer.

- They have added a "season" mode, and it allows you to manage up to 30 teams. So if you want to try and mimic the NHL season exactly by making all the roster moves, you can now do that.

- The Fantasy Draft is in.

- Dynasty hasn't just been added to, it's been scrapped and replaced by a MUCH more detailed version called "Be A GM." This mode, quite simply, is awesome. It is a much more detailed, feature rich version of the old Dynasty Mode with a real focus on how you run your club and if you're able to keep your owner happy. Among the cool things here is the fact that EA has fixed a lot of the annoying loop holes that previously existed. In previous versions, you could sign five free agents then trade them off for draft picks or bundle them up for one big star player. You can still do that, but now it will really cost you. As a GM, you have a "reputation." If you do something shady like sign a free agent then quickly trade him, your reputation around the league - and most importantly with players and agents - takes a big hit. You will find that guys - including your own - don't want to sign with you or other GMs have no interest in trading with you. This also solves another little work-around. Previously you could trade a 79 overall guy for an 81 overall guy then swap him for an 83 then an 85, etc until you got a great player. Now trading for a guy then dumping him the same day will hurt your reputation. Also, if you try to "rip off" other GMs by offering stupid lop-sided trades, you will piss off the GMs and hurt your reputation.

Another way you are punished for being a shady GM is by literally losing "phone lines." All of your interactions with other teams are via Blackberry (and they actually have the rights to Blackberry, so a real blackberry pops up on your screen.) If you're a good GM with a good reputation, you can have as many as 5 different Blackberry's. This is useful around the draft or trade deadline day because you have five lines and can receive a ton of different offers. However, if you've got a lousy reputation, you will lose phone lines and, as a result, opportunites to improve and build your team.

Joe said...

You can start the Be A GM mode pre-draft, and a cool little feature thats included is the prospects game. You can actually play this game to get a look at the best draft eligible players in a game situation, or you can simply scout it. At the draft, much like the real one, there's a lot of wheeling and dealing. You can set your trade block, your wants and needs, and see if other teams come biting. You get "calls" on your Blackberry "It's St. Louis, they have the 11th pick. Answer or Ignore?" A lot of trades went down at the draft involving players and picks. The trade AI has been totally revamped. ****** teams like the Leafs and Islanders won't trade their young stars, period. They are rebuilding and will tell you so. Good luck trading for Luke Schenn. Another cool detail that adds realism is players worth actually fluctuates. At the beginning of the season, the trade value for an older veteran isn't too high. However, at the deadline, when his cap hit is small and there's teams looking for veteran leadership, his value goes up. Its worth hanging on to these guys an auctioning them at a higher price.

This mode also has accomplishments can be met that are worth points you can use to improve your staff so you get better medical, better scouting reports, better more accurate trade rumors from around the league, etc. Very, very cool.

- For the Be A Pro fans, there's now a proshop where you can buy new equipment for your player that will give him attribute boosts, much like Tiger Woods.

- Much much more of the games features can be toggled on/off in order to crank up the realism for better players. You can now pick the "style" and if you choose hardcore, its a much tougher game and all sorts of things are now in your control. You can turn off "auto skate back" you can turn off "penalties after the whistle" you can even turn off the clock slown down that happens during powerplays.

- The Swiss National League has been added.

- The New Road to the Cup mode has a lot more then just towels for the fans, as I reported earlier. You can now set up ANY length series for the Cup. It's a good party mode, and it has really cool story telling in it. The announcers - and fans - have a memory of the series. If Justin Williams highsticked Saku Koivu and he's out for the rest of the series, Williams will get booed by the fans in the next game(s.) The announcers will also be aware of the incident and talk about it. When you start the next game, the "story" will be about Williams taking out Koivu. The question is... will you retaliate? Very cool.

- Speaking of injuries ... If a guy gets punched out or a puck in the face, he can return with a black eye. If a guy gets his jaw broken, he can return with a jaw protector on his helmet. Injuries that happen in game now give you an on-screen update about the injured player (during the game) and you can decide if he should hit the showers, stay on the bench, or play hurt. Cool stuff.

Joe said...

- The level of detail in the goaltenders is remarkable. I already talked about the slew of new animations before, but I've noticed some other cool stuff. If you play with a goalie that handles the puck well (Brodeur, Turco) he will be very active with playing the puck. Always jumping out to corral dump ins, skating out to play a puck that drifts into the zone. If the goalie doesnt have those skills, he doesn't. If you play with Tim Thomas, expect to see an unorthodox style. He could be on the ice, on his *** in the splits, while Brodeur will stand up a lot more. The animations are specific to the actual style the real-life goalie plays. Very detailed and the animations are great.

- If you get hooked or knocked down and your a skilled player, its possible to retain possession while on your knees and even shoot (I hit the crossbar wtih Lecavalier from my knees, drew a penalty shot then hit the damn cross bar again.)

- This one almost seems too good to be true, but I played a few full games and watched several more and I'm here to tell you the money-shot one-timer goal..... is dead. Obviously you can still score with one timers but not nearly with the frequency you could before. And you can one time loose pucks which is awesome. I scored three goals with Matt D'Agostini in three different games all loose puck one timers that he wired. Sweeet.

- It's gonna take a lot of people some time to realize that the game is different and they will likely take A LOT of penalties at first. (obviously penalty frequency can be toggled) but there's a lot of scrums now that can easily lead to fights or penalties. I face-washed a guy and got a Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty, so its quite detailed. A cool little animation exists where if you have the option to drop your gloves (it asks you, and tells you who the combatants are) and you don't drop them your guy will be wiggling his gloves as if to say "you wanna go? You wanna go?" There's a another cool animation if you drop a guy in a fight where your guy tumbles down on top of him the winner of the fight pulls a punch as if he's gonna drill the guy while he's turtled. He never does fire the punch though!

- The highest compliment I can give the new board play feature is that it feels totally organic to the game and not like something that was "added in." In fact, it feels like it was always there, but it really adds a wrinkle of realism. If you get tied up, you can try to kick the puck to your teammate, but, because its kicking, its not moving fast and be intercepted. Your fourth line slugs that never played in any other version of NHL, are really quite useful now because they can go out there and grind out a shift where there hits and pinning of guys actually intimidates and wears down your opponent. Ditto for big defenseman. I watched Hal Gill totally dominate Brian Gionta along the boards in one shift. (The rosters were pre-free agency.) It was really cool to see, Gill just neutralized and Gionta couldn't overpower Gill. But be aware of the puck, if the player kicks it away and you still hit him or pin him, it can be an interference penalty.

- The demo, which has no release date, will be different in terms of what you get to do then previous versions. Littman said it's a "very cool demo." Not a lot of info there!

- None of the new features for the EAHL or Be A Pro were revealed, they will be announced in 2 or 3 weeks.

jamestobrien said...

Awesome stuff, Joe. Sounds exciting. My question: are the other obnoxious "money goals" gone too?

Joe said...

On topic:

Who would I pick first? I would like to say a defenseman that is young and will be an absolute pillar for your team. If I could get Chris Pronger or Nick Lidstrom 10 years ago, I'd take that. Unfortunately, those guys are old. Maybe Jay Bouwmeester? I dunno, I don't know that he's worth a #1 pick. How old is Shea Weber? He'd be considered for my #1 D slot too.

I'd like to pick a goalie, and I think I would take Lundquist over Lou because of age here. However, I'm not entirely sure that Lundquist deserves to go #1 overall either.

So I think I'm stuck taking forward, and if I'm taking a forward, I want someone young. I love Z and Datsyuk, but they're too old to go #1 here. I gotta go with Malkin, but I'm moving him to the wing and putting a kick me sign on his back until he learns to win a damn faceoff. Yanic Perrault can be his center for all the hell I care.

Having the #1 pick here would really suck. I wouldn't want to build a team in the mold of a high scoring machine, I'd really rather build a team more like the Ducks of the last couple years. Hard to get the right kind of pick for with the #1 pick here, because it becomes a question of value. I'll trade down to #10 and be a happy camper if I can, failing that, I guess Malkin because he's big and I like him better than Crosby. Also, he gets with some pretty bangin Russian women, maybe he can hook me up.

If you're gonna pose the question James, you gotta give an answer yourself! Actually, something like this might be an interesting series to do with some sort of roundtable or guest posting.

jamestobrien said...

Twist my arm, Joe. Twist my arm. I think I might post my thoughts on that either Friday or Saturday.