"Not a great hockey game, but still good."

EA Sports' NHL 2001 for the PlayStation 2 is the latest hockey title next to 989 Sports' dreaded NHL Face Off 2001. Now that I've mentioned that the particular title was bad, you're wondering if NHL 2001 is better. The answer is yes, but it isn't the best hockey game ever. If you're wondering if I am a fan of ice hockey, the answer is indeed yes otherwise I wouldn't be playing this game.

Graphics - 09/10: Very good graphics for a PS2 title, and for a hockey title it's also very good. My only problem was that the framerate slowed down frequently every few seconds to minutes, and cost me sometimes. That didn't totally ruin my game, but there were times where I couldn't take it anymore. However, the players all look very good and the animations are smooth at times, but that doesn't excuse the framerate situation.

Sound Effects/Music - 10/10: Some of the finest sounds and music you'll hear in a hockey game. The fans are roaring, the players are yelling (when sent to the penalty box), and the sounds of the sticks clashing, pucks banging against the walls, the goal sirens, etc. are all excellent in their ways.

Gameplay - 7.5/10: Good, but far from great gameplay. The controls aren't difficult to master on both offense and defense. There are many options such as line changes, creating players, fantasy drafts, trading players etc. There's also the exhibition mode, season mode, the shoot-out practice mode for those penalty shots. You can also go straight to the play-offs which are great. The actual game is very fun because it moves fast like most hockey games do. There are the infamous penalties, and yes you can fight but they're nothing special. The last time I remember a good fight was NHL 96 on the Super NES. There isn't much variety, but I didn't expect to see something from Soul Calibur. I did want to grab and pull my opponent's jersey over his head! Anyway, the create-a-player mode is nothing revolutionary (Just the name, number, position, weight, etc.), but it still doesn't hurt to see you playing for your favorite team. Difficulty modes are just silly. The higher the difficulty, the worse your goalie is. The AI, I might add, isn't as brilliant as some of the NHL titles of earlier years. I do come across an unreasonable challenge, though.

Replay Value - 08/10: Creating players, fantasy drafts, starting teams from scratch, play-offs and more, NHL 2001 will have you playing for hours to days. This title is recommended for the true hockey fans and I would recommend renting this title before purchase. This wasn't a bad title, but it obviously could have been a lot better. I hope we can count on EA Sports' NHL 2002, or even Sega Sports' NHL2K2. Still better than 989 Sports' trifle of a hockey title.

Overall Factor - 08/10: Like the said head title, it isn't a great hockey game, but it is still solid in a few ways. The gameplay is pretty good, and this game excels in sound and music, tries to excel in graphics but was just so close. I'm hoping for some more efficient AI next time.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/28/01, Updated 03/28/01

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