Review by TheProdigy
"H, E, Double Hockey Sticks (in a good way)"
Introduction to: NHL 2001
NHL 2001 is a hockey game for the PS2. It was released by EA Sports in late 2000 and supports up a to a whopping 8 players.
The graphics in this game are very good. The player animations are quite realistic, and the arenas look great. The crowd is just a big flat blob, but hey, it's the crowd, who cares about them? The point is, standing still, everything looks great. But in the mini cut-scenes after goals/periods are a little sloppy. Although the players look pretty good still, their movements are jagged and unrealistic. This is the only flaw, otherwise, the graphics are very good for this game.
You start a new game, the camera follows the teams out of the locker rooms out onto the ice to start the game. Soon enough, the two teams line up, and the national anthem is sung. After a few panning shots of different skaters, refs, coaches, etc., we move in for the drop of the puck.
The gameplay is pretty good for this game, with only a few erroneous moments. First of all, the handling is pretty good, although the players tend to skate a little slower than would be desired. Holding down the speed boost button handles that though, but that button is also the check hard button. Holding is while checking people might get you a roughing penalty, so be careful. Passing works well, you aim your passes using the D-pad or control stick. Every now and then there is a problem with passing to a wall, etc., but that doesn't happen too often. Shooting could have been a little more exciting. You have little control over the accuracy of your shot, but charging it longer will increase the power. If you shoot hard enough, sometimes the goalie falls over leaving the net empty.
Usually, I play with automatic line changes, but you can turn it to manual as well, and you must watch your team's stamina to know when to switch out. There is also an excitement gauge, which makes your team faster and hit harder. This gauge goes up when you score goals, make strong hits, and keep it in the opponent's end. This can be very helpful so try to keep the gauge on your side at all times.
There's also different modes in the game. There's quick-play which is good for just jumping in to play with a friend or whatever, there's different season modes and stuff, which are pretty well done. There's also shoot-out mode. The problem with shoot-out is that getting a goal without anyone to pass to is tricky because you have little control over where you aim the shot. This can get frustrating.
I've never tried with 8 players, but I play two player all the time and it works pretty well. I imagine 8 players would be crazy fun. Anyway, it's a good game for playing with friends or family since you can pick teams, some can be on one team, others another team, etc. It's all well done.
There's only a few problems here and there. For example, sometimes the goalie (when on automatic) does stupid things, like leaving the net for no reason and letting them score. Also, the animations of the different goalie moves making the saves look pretty stupid sometimes. Also, sometimes when you pass to a team-mate for a one-timer, they just skate past it without shooting. Sometimes when you shoot the puck at their net, you are facing the wrong way (i.e. you're facing towards a wall and shoot as though you were shooting at the wall but the shot goes towards the net). None of these errors greatly hurt the game though, and for the most part they can just be harmlessly ignored.
The sounds of the arena, like the skates and the crowd and body checks all sound great. The sound effects for the menus are cool too. The music is okay for the menu. The only sound that I have a minor complaint about is the announcers. As is most sports games, the announcers are a little annoying and repetitive. Plus, sometimes they even say false information, like describing a goal by saying that there was a pass in the play when the goal was unassisted. But, I found the announcers for this game less annoying than some other sports games. Overall, the sound for this game is clean, and rather impressive.
The replay value for this game is very high. With the many different modes to try out and the endless possibilities of multiplayer, you could play for a long time and still not get bored.
Buy or Avoid?
I'd definitely advise you to buy this game, especially if you're a hockey fan. This game is easy to learn and fun for all ages. Different difficulty settings makes it easy for any age group to enjoy. Overall, just a very well-made game that is worth any gamer's time.
Final Score: 9
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/25/06
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