Review by Diamond Tiazel

"The best hockey game I have ever played, easily."

Hockey isn't exactly the sport that gets all the attention from those companies who create sports atmospheres in the gaming world. Great basketball and football games aren't hard to find at all, but hockey (much like soccer or ''real football'' or whatever) isn't a sport with many quality gems-- most gave me the feeling that the creators had no knowledge of the sport to begin with. However, NHL 2002 changed that in a glimpse, and after playing many, many hockey games, I can safely say that NHL 2002 is clearly a must-have for fans of the sport looking for that perfect game.

Gameplay - 9/10

EA's NHL series for the past several installments have had a pretty consistent and satisfying experience. NHL 2002 continues the tradition-- the controls are very easy to get used to, and you'll be a part of the action in no time. The modes have also stayed with tradition. You'll find any basic mode you'll need, really. Though it would have been nice to have a franchise mode, you can still hold entire player-pool drafts (through the options) if it's to your liking. And who could forget NHL fights? However, they feel pretty bland overall (you have about two or three different ways to attack your opponent in a brawl). Other than these two small flaws, the gameplay is practically perfect.

Graphics - 8/10

Electronic Arts isn't really the best when it comes to graphics-- that trophy clearly goes to Sega's sports series. The players look real enough, though, and a reasonably large portion of them have face models very close to their real-life counterparts. Some of their motions could probably be worked on too, but most motions aren't noticeable. The NHL arenas also look very nice and polished.

Sound/Music - 10/10

The actual sounds of the game are pretty realistic, but this is not where the audio shines. No, that would be the commentators. You heard me, the commentators. NHL 2002 has the most satisfying commentator team that has ever graced my ears. Most of their cracks are very entertaining, even if you've heard them a couple thousand times.

The game's soundtrack features a good bit of songs from some popular artists, such as Treble Charger and the Barenaked Ladies, among others.

Great Features to Note

One of the neat features of the game is the way you collect points by reaching certain accomplishments throughout the game-- for example, completing the hat trick or winning the Stanley Cup in Season mode. These points are used to purchase trading cards; most of them show off all the NHL's greatest stars, but some of them are useful in that they unlock ''easter eggs'' such as new taunts. Some cards can also be used to power up your team during the game or change the game's conditions. One card can make it where, when a player is checked, they stay lying on the ice until the play ends by anything like a scored goal or a penalty. Another card can make the game sudden death, where the next goal scored determines the winner of the game. These specific cards are activated through pausing during play and activating them through the options.

What saves this feature from possible failure is that you can sell your cards back for points. That way, once you've accomplished all the goals required for points, you can still get more points by selling extras you may have acquired in trading card packs.

Overall Score: 10/10

This game is simply hockey perfection. Any flaws it has are almost made invisible by the sheer amount of fun it provides. The only quarrel I see anyone having with this game is the fact that it takes about 1/4 of a memory card to save. That's tough. :)

Gameplay: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound/Music: 10/10
Overall Score: 10/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/21/02, Updated 11/21/02

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