Deja-vu.....Have I seen this before?
I have seen this before. With the exception of a few very minor details this game looks like, plays like and basically is NHL 96 by EA Sports. This however is not necessarily bad. The EA Sports series of Hockey games have dominated over other hockey games. With all of the hard hitting action of the real thing, this game will keep you in your seat.
Powerplay '96 definitely does improve upon NHL 96 in certain areas. It not only includes all NHL teams and players, but also international teams and players. NHL 96 however has better sound, player animations, and playability. The EA Sports version also has one key feature which, as a Hockey player myself, I know to be very important: fights. Fighting is an integral part of hockey not only because we hockey players like to beat each other in the head and break our knuckles at the same time, but it also is a strategic element used to inspire a team. Without fights this game might as well be called Pee-Wee Hockey. What good is having a Marty McSorley or a Jeff Odgers or any other player whose sole purpose on the team is to break the nose of the opposing team's star player? You should be able to make the little pussy who's only a scorer and can't take a hit, sit on the bench for the rest of the game while you go out and play with three broken ribs, a busted nose and lip, three teeth scattered somewhere on the ice and of course bruised and bloody knuckles from throwing down the gloves and dukin' it out like no boxer would even dare do. This game lacks that aspect.
[Editor's note: Frederick is a violent person and some of us think that fighting in hockey is 'kindergartners on ice']
Other than that, I enjoyed this game. It has good graphics, sound, playability and realism, but none of them really match up to NHL 96. The only reason that I might choose to play it over NHL 96 is that it takes up less memory and has international teams, which at least at the time of this review is fitting, because the World Cup of hockey is going on right now. If given the choice, I would definitely buy NHL 96 over NHL Powerplay '96.
Another advantage of this game is that there are no set plays in which you are guaranteed a goal (one of the problems of NHL 96). In Powerplay it is a little more random and the computer AI works a little better. This keeps the game's difficulty up even after you get really good. You can score with a slap shot from the blue line or get stuffed by the goalie's stick while trying to 'diek' him on a break away.
This game does have it's physical aspects. The checking animations are excellent and you can knock somebody out for a period during the game. I can sympathize with this, I know what it feels like to be rammed head first into the wall and get a concussion. I, however, am proud to say that no concussion ever kept me on the bench. It is also fun to hip check someone into the boards and make him land on his head and get knocked out, all of which is possible in this game.
It is possible to play both seasons and tournaments in Powerplay '96, but that is expected in any sports game. Even with a computer far exceeding the minimum requirements, there were still a few glitches in the game, which makes it frustrating at times . Another unfortunate problem was the lack of a player editor, so you are unable to create new players.
Powerplay '96 is a solid game, with only a few minor problems, but it just doesn't quite measure up to its heavy competition.