Hockey at its best
That's the best way to describe NHL '98, the latest hockey offering from EA. Another year of the most exciting sport has come around, and this game re-creates it in 3DFX splendor.
What everyone is complaining about right now is lack of gameplay in video games, right? Well, in NHL '98 you definitely will not be disappointed. I'll go as far to say this is the most fun hockey game ever created. The attention to detail is amazing. You'll surely be screaming at your goalie at some point for not stopping the puck, but instead of wondering how the puck got into the net you can zoom in extremely close to the goal and replay to see that the puck actually missed him by inches.
For those coming from the experience of NHL '97, I'm sure you'll want to know what's new. Well for starters, you can change coaching strategies on the fly. What does this mean for the average gamer? If you're a hockey expert, this will give you an edge on the computer if used properly. The play-by-play has been updated, there are an incredible amount of different comments the two announcers say, and they even note on the players performance in the '96-'97 season. There is also a new tournament mode, which adds another way to play your friends. Of all these new additions my personal favorite are the glass-breaking checks, finally you can get revenge on Gretzky and push his ass into the crowd!
Unlike previous EA hockey games, there is a wider array of buttons to press. Before, there were always two buttons, pass and shoot. Now, there are four. With the "special move" button, you'll be able to perform such feats as shooting between your legs. Smash the button on defense and you'll drop to the ice sliding trying to block the puck. With all the different possible actions that you can do you won't be bored with a single game of NHL '98.
Besides all of the new and more realistic hockey action, the graphics have undergone a massive update. The addition for support of Voodoo and Voodoo Rush is absolutely gorgeous. A sports game has never looked so realistic. From the player's name on the back of their jersey to realistic faces, the graphics are just the icing on the cake. The animation is extraordinarily smooth, with a remarkable array of different moves for each player. A goalie can stop a goal in an innumerable amount of ways, creating a sense of being in a unique situation every time you rush the crease. Unfortunately though, for you non-3DFX'ers, the rendering system looked worse than last year (eek!). It still looks okay, it just wasn't as sharp as NHL '97. Still, the gameplay rocks and I'll forgive EA for that little misdemeanor.
Like TV, NHL '98 captures the sounds and music of hockey in crisp brilliance. There is a huge amount of face-off tunes, and EA has even licensed "Get Ready For This," a favorite tune of the NHL of late. You'll hear distinctive sounds of skates, sticks, pucks, players, goalies, and just about everything else.
As for multi-player - it's all here. You can play over a modem or serial cable with 2 players, but for the ultimate experience you can play with 7 friends over a LAN. This has got to be the most fun in hockey history.
NHL '98 is, simply put, a must for any self-respecting PC hockey buff.