Review by golonghorns

Reviewed: 07/15/02 | Updated: 07/15/02

Best. Hockey. Game. Ever.

When I picked up NHL 2002, I wasn't expecting too much. I was always playing NHL 2K for Dreamcast, and never gave thought to another hockey game. Better than NHL 2K? ''Nah!'' was the first thought to enter my mind... Little did I know that I was about to be blown away by the perfection and godliness that is NHL 2002. From the silky smooth animations down to the funny and entertaining announcers, I was shocked. This game had it all...and more. Whether you are an avid hockey fan, a sports fan in general, or just a casual gamer, this game will suit your bone-crushing needs.

Graphics 10/10- Poetry in motion. From the smooth, graceful motions of a forward gliding effortlessly over the ice to a defenseman crushing the center into the boards so hard it hurts you, the graphics are outstanding. The facial mapping is extremely well done, as are the coaches, who are very lifelike. The uniforms are a study in attention to detail, and there are even some modeled fans in the stand. Most games just have cardboard cutouts for fans, but not NHL 2002. If their team does well, the fans will do a little dance with the teams uniform on and a little puck for a hat. If you do poorly, then they boo. Simple enough. If you hit a player or the goalie makes a great save, you get an instant replay feature showing the play several times from several angles, which is fine by me. An astonishing package when you put it all together, it really adds to the atmosphere.

Sound 10/10- This is often the worst part of many games. Dull announcers talking about something that happened twenty seconds ago. I never imagined having a sports game where it actually was a good thing to keep the volume up. The announcers did a fabulous job captivating me and keeping me interested, and is one of the rarest things to accomplish. This game made me laugh out more than any other sport-related game. Some of the quotes are pure gems, and I can't imagine Electronic Arts doing a better job. The music is lacking a bit in variety, but it makes it up by quality. A few very recognizable names are on here, and did a great job. The in-game sounds only build up the atmosphere. From a slap shot to an excruciatingly painful hit, the hecklers booing a bad play, and the arena announcer calling the intermissions, it is all here.

Gameplay 10/10- One of the coolest modes here has to be Tournament mode. Pick a country, and play against other countries, just like the Olympics. It is surprisingly realistic, with the timer going up, accurate rosters and jerseys, and the larger rinks. This is just the icing on the cake. Season mode is the meat of the game, and you will spend many sleepless hours devoting your soul, mind and body to perfection. Playoffs are the same thing, only with higher stakes and a better field to compete with. Create-a-player is executed almost flawlessly, as the announcers even pronounce the name, instead of saying player numbers. The only thing wrong with this is that they sometimes mess up and get the name wrong, but that is O.K. Franchise mode is a welcome bonus, and they have a shoot-out mode. Nothing is more fun than an intense shoot-out with a friend. As you can see, there is quite a bit to do here, so it is highly unlikely one could possibly be bored.

Control 10/10- Easy enough to learn. The basics are enough to carry you through a season, and the more advanced options make you near invincible. Checking, passing, shooting, anyone can do it, but not anyone can be a master. The player’s move smoothly down the rink and you can change direction on a dime, useful for avoiding any lurking defensemen. You can choose different strategies, and if a goalie is doing poorly, you can always sub him, and he will solemnly skate away from the goal, head hang low. Even though I never really tried using the goalie much, there wasn't much to do other than move him left and right. Plenty of different shots, and deke's remain supreme. Awesome stuff here.

Replay Value- 10/10- Most sports games wouldn't get a 10/10 here, but this one does. Why? The deep, immersive season will leave you possessed for the thirst for more. Done with that? Off to the Tournament. Maybe you want to win it all with Team U.S.A., or you have an insane thirst for defending the underdog. Then try out Italy, or Japan, Just pick a team, and play. It is that simple, this game will always leave you with a craving for more.

Difficulty- Varies with the setting. Rookie mode is ridiculously easy, and it is fairly easy to dominate on pro. The all-star will change that, though. It is always hard to win on all-star, never mind the rally every CPU led team puts on in the third period.

Buy/Rent- If you are a hockey fan, go ahead and buy three of these. One to play, one to back up the first one, and the third one to put in a trophy case. If you are remotely interested, buy two. If you aren't interested, go ahead and plunk down the cash for one. If you hate video games and all sports, especially hockey, rent it. Trust me, you will end up buying it anyway.

Overall 10/10- I will describe this game to you in one word that will completely sum it up: Perfection. Now go out and buy it. Hurry, stores aren't open all day, you know.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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