Review by IceDragon2K

"What's this? A hockey simulator better than the NHL series?"

For many years, I thought the NHL series by EA Sports was one of the best sports series ever. Well now there is something better. It is both a good hockey simulator and an arcade type game. Any hockey fan should at least give the game a try. It is now on my wishlist for Christmas...and I better get it.

Gameplay: The gameplay is great, but at the same time can be annoying. The game plays smoothly, but I noticed that after 5 minutes of playing, I turned it onto Pro and only then the computer matched up to me evenly. Goaltending in the game is insane. The goalies can do some really great saves. Different goalies also have different strong points and weak points. When playing Dallas, I noticed (thanks to the shot chart) that all my shots that went in on Turco were between the face off circles and close to the net. After they switched to Tugnutt, I got most goals from slap shots a little in from the blue line. Games can be evenly matched most of the time (which is a lot more fun than being beaten 6-0 or winning 6-0 every game like in EA's NHL series). Passing can get difficult when you're in the other team's zone. Although why wouldn't it be? Of course, it is possible to make some great passes. For instance, I was behind the net, passed it to my defense man at the blue line, who passed it in front of the net and my left wing got a goal. Power plays can be a little difficult, as the minute the other team touches the puck, you know it's going to your end.

Graphics: Graphics are good. Not as good as the NHL series, but a lot of things are detailed. You can see the way the jerseys are stitched, the 'Easton' name on the sticks. The team logo on the puck and the detail of the stadium. The crowd of course does not look good. The ice always looks really good when you start for the next period. You can always see the reflection from the boards on the ice as with the score board. Frame rate is very good, and hardly ever slows down. Even if for a second or two. Overall, the graphics are good, but not as good as other Sega Sports games.

Controls: You have a few options for controls, and each one is explained in the instructions. Basic controls with the puck is that X is to pass, Circle is to Speed Burst, Triangle is to flip the puck up, Square is to shoot. You can switched to advanced where for example, Triangle and L1 is to deke. Controls don't take long to get used to, maybe 2 minutes. Advanced controls may take a little longer.

Sound: Sound isn't anything spectacular. The skating and the shots off the post sound accurate, but the commentary drags this down. It is just very much the same after 2 games, you will notice. So I just switch the commentary sound level lower and turn everything up a little bit higher. So the commentary can still be heard but it tends to be less annoying.

Modes of Play/Options: There are several modes of play. Exhibition, Season, Playoffs, Franchise and Tournament. Exhibition is just a quick game between two games. Season is a full season with a team. Playoffs is the playoffs with a team. Franchise is managing a team. Tournament is a tournament. Other options are to change lines, sign free agents, do trades and other things. In options you can also change the way the game is going to go, by offensive strength, defensive strength, goalie strength, etc. You can also change the puck friction and a variety of other things. Not quite the number of options for EA's NHL series, but there is still quite a bit. Using some of these options can change a game quite a bit.

Again I will say, any hockey fan should at least give this game a chance then from then choose whether or not to buy it. I fell in love with it after my first game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/24/02, Updated 11/24/02

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