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The Pucking best EA sports game ever?
NHL 2001 (PS2)
Member Name: Cuchulain
NHL 2001 (PS2)
Date: 14/02/01, updated on 14/02/01 (88 review reads)
Advantages: Better than any EA sports game before it.
Disadvantages: No through ball. Eh, I mean puck. No through puck.
This game seem to have everything that FIFA has, and everything it doesn't (except for a through-ball, through-puck thing). We all know that FIFA is nowhere near as good as ISS, but when you play this game you must think that this was made by the ladies and gentlemen at good old Konami.
The graphics are better than anything you could ever see on a footie game (due to the fact that there is less players) and the animations are immaculate, with the puck normally always looking like it has been totally guided by the end of that big stick thang. When it does happen that the player moves the puck using the Force, then it is only in replay mode that you really notice it, due to the sheer pace of the game.
In FIFA people marvel that the player's shirts and hair move as they are playing. Even now their heads move as they look for someone to cross the ball to. But NHL takes it a stage further and every single piece of thier bodies seem to move as they go in for the kill. Not only do heads turn, but eyes move as well, just like in the video footage at the start of the game. Granted, you have to zoom right in during the replays to notice small details like this, but they are there.
The action replays are good in a Matrix sty-lee sort of way, but it is a little difficult to pull off if you want to see something from a different angle. The combination of stick movements to zoom in and pan about is a little silly to say the least and maybe they didn't put much thought into which stick to allocate the 'lift/drop view' action to. But is in the replays that you notice short cuts, such as the crowd. Yes they are animated, but as flat two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs. Think 15,000 of those John Smiths's Ad Man filling the Manchester Evening News Arena and you get the idea.
Excellent. If only FIFA was like this.
Defenders are smart and come back giving genuine cover to your goal, an
d your attackers work together, joined psychically to one another, giving you the best movement possible. If you choose a good team, that is. Choose a poor team and the players seem to be strangers and don't work so well together. A nice touch. Sometimes the keepers are a bit dodgy, as are all keepers in EA games, like when they move well off to the left or right to pick up the free-puck when your defender is bearing down on it, leaving the goal open should one of their attackers steal it away from you.
I've been playing the game for a few weeks now, and evey goal I have scored is different. I haven't noticed any glaring hot-spots that if you come into the area running in that direction and shoot from here you always score. Set pieces are totally random as well depending on the momentum meter. If it is full ald flashing madly then chances are you're gonna score from a set-piece. The momentum metere makes all the difference. When it is full you can spin round all of their players and shoot from the half-way line and be in with a reasonable chance of at least hitting the target. If your momentum is dying away your players will slow down slightly and make mistakes. Genius.
The game is missing the 'through-ball' that has only just been introduced in the FIFA games, so you can only pass straight to a player, making them slow down if they are racing up to meet you. It also means that the opposition are more likely to steal the puck away before you can pick it up. Stupid error, leaving this out.
How many times has Stuart Pearce taken you down as you sprinted and weaved past the rest of the defence only to to get nothing more than a ref shouting at you to play on? Wouldn't it be better if you could get up, give him a shove and start trying punch his skinny head off? Well there is no Stuart Pearce unless you change the players names, but you can take your anger out on those who annoy you on the field. Get knocked over? U
se another player to start a fight with your assailant and get a close up as the two warriors punch it out in a free for all. Then laugh as you nearly always get knocked to the ground.
Where are the Bracknell Bees? Has anyone seen Manchester Storm? Nope - fraid not. The only teams you're gonna get with this game are the US and Canadian teams. Shame, seeing as all the players in Brit teams are all canadian anyways...
The crunching tackles, the scream of the crowd, the commentator getting excited, the smack of wood against... what are those pucks made off?
The sound in this game is also of the highest standard I have ever heard. The commentators speak as play is happening, not a split second after, and their tone seems to change with the speed of the game. Go hurtling up the ice with the puck spinning round all the defenders and the commentator will be screaming your praises down his silly square microphone. Go dawdling back to play the puck between the defense and he will slow down and complain about the lack of action. Cool. They also don't sound clipped like they were taking elocution lessons from Cpt. Jame T. Kirk, which is a problem on some games.
The crunching as players collide sounds as though the sound guys padded themselves up and ran into each other at different speeds all day. The crowds sound a little distant at times, with a little too much echo added for effect. Maybe the games I played just didn't draw big crowds...
Obviously I think this is a good game, but should be played with someone else - its a two player game really, with a couple of one player options thrown in for free. Get this game, and an extra controller if you don't alrady have one. Oh, and a friend to play it with.