We have been asked to write up a quick review of NHL Gamecenter Live, a service we HW writers receive for free to aid us in our game recaps and whatnot. Dan and I have been summoned to accomplish this task, since we are the ones who use it the most on HW, being foreigners and all. Here we go!
In terms of sound quality and video quality, I'd have to think NHL Gamecenter is the reigning king of the streaming world, especially if you have a high-powered machine on which to watch the games.
If you're like me and you have a computer that would lose a footrace against a rock (yes, it's that slow sometimes), then the fact that you have many video resolution settings is a absolute boon. When I watch games on a quasi-illegal streaming site, not only is the video quality sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-inferior, but it skips a few frames and I end up a full 5 to 10 minutes in the past, with Twitter and the comments section at HW warning me way too far in advance when a goal has occurred. Very rarely does this sort of thing happen with GCL.
It's also nice to be able to watch basically any game you want without pop-ups and weird European commercials. I say ''basically'' any game because local games are blacked-out. This peeves me, since I never take cable at home because I don't really watch TV, unless it's hockey, and I'm not gonna pay 60$ a month for the odd Wild game on CBC. However, I do understand that the NHL and its teams have TV deals, so for the NHL to hog ratings when someone could simply watch the games on TV would defeat the purpose.
A feature I have never used but am aware of is the ability to watch games after they have happened. This is pretty cool, but I've never felt the need to watch a game once it has passed, even if I've missed it, but that's just me.
GCL is absolutely the best for people who root for non-local teams. Maybe you're from Minnesota, but you also like the Blackhawks. Boom! No need to wait for them to play Minnesota. If you only root for Minnesota and don't watch any other team, then you either need to start watching other teams or forget about GCL.
Would I pay to have GCL if I had to? I definitely would if I had the money, but alas, I am but a poor student right now. The way I see it, it's pretty much the same as if you were to buy a specific channel from your cable provider, except a lot of the time, you have to buy it in a bundle. I find that it is worth the trouble it saves, because you never know when illegal streams will either be taken down or just won't show certain games. I've spent many nights having to listen to the game on the radio because none of the sites carried the Wild game for some strange reason.
If you move around as much as I do, trying to watch your favourite sports team is a chore. I have moved from Hong Kong to Singapore to Rhode Island and now Vancouver (ugh...). Other times, you just have stuff to do. Doesn't it suck when life gets in the way of watching the Wild play?
In my case, I have to travel two hours to hockey rinks, scout three hour games for Future Considerations, then travel two hours to get back home.
And if I do manage to get to watch the Wild play, it often looks like it's being filmed with a potato.
NHL GameCenter is extreme blessing for me. Yes, this may sound like an infomercial, but before you spend your hard-earned money, it is probably good to hear some opinions from people that actually use it that aren't from the TV screen.
Look, the video and audio quality can't get any better. It is crystal clear and with a solid internet connection, runs smoothly and without any lag or jerkiness. But that isn't why I would spend money on GameCenter.
You can find video feeds online if you really know how to look. Not as high quality, but still a reasonable watch.
What makes it worth it is the ability to watch the game whenever I want. Sometimes you have things to do. Maybe in your case, you have to take care of the kids, go out and meet friends, watch another hockey game etc. There are tons of reasons that just finding out the score isn't enough.
Would you rather read on NHL.com that the Wild won 3-2 against the Oilers, or would you rather watch them score every goal?
Hockey games are about the build-up. It is like a friend telling you the ending to a movie you wanted to see. You probably would want to punch him//her in the face.
So after you do what you need to do, you can come back home, turn on your computer and load GameCenter. You can watch the high quality game with a beer in your left hand, the computer mouse in your right, and a bag of chips on your lap.
Nothing beats the good ole couch potato experience. I love it, you love it. And with the clock winding down to bedtime, nothing beats just being an extremely lazy ass watching the Wild beat the crap out of the Oilers.
That's money well spent.
Sadly, Dan and I have never tried the PS3 of GCL and Dan has only very briefly tried the mobile version, so we can't comment on either of them. Having never paid for it (maybe Dan has, but I haven't), we can't really comment on the price-to-quality ratio, but we know we would be willing to pay for the service if we had to.
So yeah, two glowing reviews for GCL. It saves a whole lot of trouble if you can afford it, so go get it!