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Hockey at its best
NHL 2001 (PS2)
NHL 2001 (PS2)
Date: 16/07/01, updated on 23/09/02 (28 review reads)
Advantages: gameplay, graphics , sound
HOCKEY AT ITS BEST
The NHL series by EA Sports has long been my favorite sports title. I, like many others, have been a fan since the Sega Genesis days. This game is notoriously famous, getting screen time in movies such as Swingers and Mall Rats, where the inside nature of the humor has delighted gamers across the country. Perhaps no other game in the history of mankind has caused more cursing, more broken controllers, or spawned more dorm room arguments. Avid players of this game are passionate about head to head matchups with their friends and enemies, as they try to prove their dominance.
I buy this game faithfully, year in and year out with feelings of both excitement and trepidation. I am excited to see what is new and improved, but always a little worried that a feature I really liked might be eliminated with the new edition for the Year. Some years the game is a disappointment, others it is pure gaming bliss. Naturally, I was chomping at the bit to see what EA Sports had done with NHL 2001 for my brand new PS2.
As I inserted the disk into my PS2 I could feel my pulse quicken, my hands shaking slightly with nervous anticipation. "Please, oh please let it be good," I thought to myself. The opening movie began, and I was under EA Sports spell. The rock music was blaring out of my speakers as my jaw dropped at the sight of the opening movie. Unlike many sports titles that show live action footage of real players during the opening, NHL 2001 shows you nothing but the games graphics.
And they are amazing. "Surely the game can't look this good," I thought.
With sweat beading on my forehead I quickly chose two of the 50 available teams, ignoring options settings and all other bells and whistles. I had to get into a game; I had to see what EA Sports had for me. I chose the Minnesota Wild as the home team and the Dallas stars as the visiting team, chose the Wild as my team but pic
ked their Road Jerseys.
The game started loading, displaying a picture of the Wild's new arena - The Xcel Energy Center. And the game kept loading….I began to get nervous- could this be the first of many issues. Then the load screen switched to a display of a controller and what all the buttons did. This was a much-appreciated bonus, providing new players with all they needed to know to play the game - no need to pull out the instructions.
Finally, it was loaded - and what's this - could my eyes be deceiving me? The game opened to a shot of all my players, standing in the stadium tunnel and the camera swung around behind them as they walked out onto the ice.
Spotlights were sweeping across the ice as the crowd roared for the home team. I was in shock. This opening sequence was amazing!!! Well worth the load time wait. The players' faces were completely animated, making all sorts of expressions, engaging in conversations, even yawning.
Finally, the opening face off. The camera view in NHL has never changed, it is tried and true and it is no different on the PS2. The puck dropped and I began to play. Gameplay was all I could hope for and more. This has always been the fastest paced sports title money can buy and this year is no exception. I was breathless as my players raced up and down the ice shooting and checking in a frenzy of activity.
The framerate and player animations do suffer a bit during gameplay, due to the detail of the characters and the speed at which they move. But overall, the graphics are excellent and the gameplay has retained all the best parts of traditional NHL games, with a few improvements thrown in. The spin move works beautifully! When setting period lengths, the game clock speed is adjusted, instead of the period time - meaning your penalty time for that 5:00 major for fighting won't eat up an entire period. The five minutes is in "
;game time," so if you want to play five minute periods, the penalty only lasts 1:15 in real time. Very nice.
And there is fighting - EA Sports learned their lesson long ago; we want the fighting. Fighting in NHL 2001 makes me laugh every time I do it. There is no more skating away from the other player, no more blocking. EA realized that they don't have a fighting game, they have a hockey game, so fighting is simple, fun, and hilarious. Both players grab each other - no getting away. And you just start hitting the punch button as fast as you can. Every shot is to the opponent's face. Wham, Wham, Wham, and one of you is gonna drop.
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