EA's UI design sucks: won't let you play hockey

July 9, 2007

Even the sprites are lazy.I was playing NHL 07 for the PS2 recently, and have been struck by just how awful the menu UI is. Here’s the procedure to start playing your in-progress season:

  • Press Start on title screen (what’s the point of this tradition again?)

  • Press a button to cancel a video commercial of some NHL player

  • Choose “Game Modes” (the second option) and press X.

  • Choose “Season” (the fourth option) and press X.

  • Choose “NHL” (or your respective league) and press X.

  • Choose “Load” and press X.

  • Choose your save file and press X.

  • Press X to confirm that you really want to load your game.

  • Press X to confirm that the game really was loaded.

So it takes thirteen button presses to load my season, and then a few more presses to actually play a game in that season. Just let me play hockey damn it!

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas nailed this one. When you turn it on, it loads the last saved game. Now, that’s probably not appropriate for NHL 07 - really, it should be one of the options on the main menu, since you might want multiplayer right now. But seriously - 13 actions? If I have a half hour and I want to sit down and play a game in my season, it’ll take the whole half hour to start the damn game.

EA’s NHL is one of the biggest game franchises out there, and they haven’t gotten the menus down. Time To Start isn’t the only transgression. For example, when a game is over it presents you with a menu. You have to move down to Exit, choose it, then confirm you really do want to exit. “Oh wait, do I really want to exit this finished game?” “No, I’d way rather see a replay of the game I just played, that’s way more fun than playing another game.”

Rummaging around stupid menus is even more annoying than loading time. It’s like loading time, except it’s obviously avoidable, and you can’t eat or drink during it.

Here’s a final peeve. When you choose that you want to save your season, you’re presented with a list of files (not save slots, and definitely not indicating which is your slot). You choose one, then choose save. It considers this, then asks if you’re sure. If you are, it saves for a while, then you have to confirm the success of the save. Then you need to exit the save screen - you know, in case you wanted to save twice. Six actions required, instead of a single “Save Your Season” option on the season’s main menu. All this is even more annoying since the menus on the PS2 version of NHL 2007 are very sluggish.

The other recent EA Sports title I’ve played is Madden 07 for the Wii, which benefits from Wiimote navigation, but compensates with bizarre menu bugs that take away from the experience. Come on EA, I know you have a lot of smart folks working there. I even know some of them. Make your menus not suck!

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.