NHL 2K (Dreamcast) review
"And finally, even on All-Star mode, it's too damn easy to score goals, and it's too damn hard for the other team to score. This basically leaves you to either an undefeated season, or a 150-point journey..."
As the linesmen drops the puck, your center hits it first, and it rolls back to your defenseman. He fakes a shot and passes to the the winger. The opposing defensemen charges in, but your righty slips the puck around the the center, who passes to the left wing, who one-times it into the net, making a mockery of the goaltender. This is hockey. Unfortunately, as realistic as the videogame is, this scenario is pretty much an impossibility to pull off in Blackbox's NHL 2K.
I am proud to call myself a hockey fan, and, some may say, a hockey fanatic! So, naturally, I made NHL 2K one of my early Dreamcast purchases, and couldn't be happier with it. Well, actually, I could be much happier with it!
The graphics in NHL 2K are amazing (considering it's a first-gen DC title), and never failed to impress me. The fans are fully animated; though they repeat the same movements over and over again, they aren't an inanimate 2D sprite crowd such as in NFL 2K. The ice is probably the best argument on how great the graphics are. In the beginning of each period, being just recently zambonied by the most-loved man in any arena, the ice looks like a newly-polished mirror, and, besides seeing the players reflected almost perfectly, you can even see the retired uniforms reflecting on the ice! For those of you not in the know, the retired uniforms are held high above the ice, in the rafters. That's quite a visual accomplishment! As for the players themselves, the game boasts, ''Over 1,000 motion-captured moves and over 100 goalie animations.'' However, most of those moves are things you don't even notice, such as lining up for a faceoff or changing lines. But, the players skate like their real-life counterparts, and their uniforms look real. The goalies, on the other hand, all look exactly alike, with the only difference being the colors. I can understand this, but it wouldn't have hurt to put helmet-cage combinations on such guys as Dominik Hasek or Chris Osgood, nor would it have hurt if they gave guys like Patrick Roy plastic neck protectors. However, that's just my usual bitching about something that doesn't even matter to the actual game. Still, fans like me notice those kinds of things, folks. NHL 2K is superior, graphically, to even EA Sports' NHL 2000, and believe me folks, that's quite a feat!
The bang of a board-check, the ping of a puck hitting the goalpost, the slap of a 100-mile-an-hour slapshot. The sound effects in NHL 2K are good, and, once again, rarely failed to impress me. When the crowd cheers, you feel accomplished (if you're hosting the opposition, that is). When the siren sounds, you feel even more accomplished! Wait--that's not exactly right. For some freakin' reason that will never be known to anyone in the world, Blackbox didn't put a goal siren into the game! This is one of the major drawbacks, and is easily noticeable to even casual hockey fans. Hall of Famer Bob Cole is the play-by-play announcer, and does quite a good job, but sometimes needs to catch up with the players. Also, he seems to yell, ''Wrist shot!'' even when you are behind your own blue line, short-handed, dumping the puck out of your zone. However, this only happens when you press the shoot button, so it's understandable, and isn't really eligible as an argument. His partner, the color commentator, Harry Neale, does a great job, also, but, after playing halfway through the season with your team, you get sick of the same redundant comments. They had to program lines in for every team, though, so this is understandable, also. Like I said before, except for a major drawback (the siren), the sound is great, and really adds to the enjoyment of the game.
Probably the biggest disappointment in the game is the lack of options. There is no shootout mode or a practice mode, which is crucial to the the development of your team. There are more missing options, but I don't feel like complaining about them. No, wait--the biggest drawback of the game is the way that you actually play the game. First, you can't successfully set up a Triangle play, with your computer-controlled teammates doing their own thing on the ice. Second, the goalies can pass and cover the puck, but they can't dump it! Which, as I see it, had no reason to be left out! And finally, even on All-Star mode, it's too damn easy to score goals, and it's too damn hard for the other team to score. This basically leaves you to either an undefeated season, or a 150-point journey instead. Sigh, well, maybe in the next installment, NHL 2K2, we'll get a siren, more options, and better gameplay factors. And, since Sega handed it over to Visual Concepts, who made the NFL and NBA installments in the Sega Sports series, we should get these features we so desperately need.
One thing I would like to mention, that has kind of been bothering me. On a faceoff, the referee is the one dropping the puck, not the linesman. Though it doesn't affect the gameplay, it may bother fellow hockey fans.
Overall, I highly recommend NHL 2K. Although, if you aren't a hockey fan, you won't find any joy in this game at all. But, you can buy it for a relatively cheap price (I got mine partially used for $15), so, even if you don't like it, you haven't wasted $60 on a video game. However, one of EA's hockey games may be a better buy.
Staff review by Zack M (Date unavailable)
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