Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Not that there are a ton of hockey releases every year, but without this one, the hockey-playing world would be in a bad, bad place. The improvement between this year's installment and 2011's might, in fact, be the largest on this list.
This isn't just the first hockey game with female players, but it's also the first with a truly competent opponent A.I. system in place. The physics engine got a huge revamp, the presentation is incredible, and the control scheme was made for entry-level players to build on (finally). The only gripe here is sound design: The announces wear on you, quickly. But it doesn't detract much from the rest of the game's sharp, sharp edges: Don't wait for '14. This is the one to buy, and it's well-timed, considering it's also the most new NHL action hockey fans might actually see this season.