More of the same… in a good way!
NHL ’99 can be considered another notch on the measuring stick of good games EA Sports has released. Their NHL line in particular has always been good, and is now reaching a point where not much gets added yearly, but there is also not much to complain about either. The game is still great, certainly as good as last year’s product, but you may want to consider the improvements made to the game and if they warrant a purchase.
The only thing that has really changed for the worse is the intro sequence. Did EA really need to include the song Heroes by The Wall Flowers? I think not. They should have stuck with last year’s exciting and appropriate speed metal. It captures the hectic sport much better than a slow pop song. Would you rather see Federov crushing an opponent to the music of Bob Dylan’s son, or some hard rocking guitars? Anyways, I digress. Besides this small point there is little wrong with NHL ’99.
Graphics are much like last year. Small tweaks and improvements add to the overall presentation, but there isn’t that significant of a difference. This year the players cast reflections and there are many more face bitmaps that somewhat resemble players, as well as TV-like cuts and splices. Although these new additions make the game more professional and polished looking, they really add nothing spectacular and certainly don’t push the game to new levels of gameplay.
Gameplay can be either arcade oriented or more strategic, using real plays
and coaching strategies. One of the main additions is the ability to practice
coaching strategies and plays outside of games, a good addition to the roster
of features. The strategies are those of Marc Crawford, coach of the Red Wings.
Also added are “create a player” and the ability to recruit free agents. These
options of course add to the realism of the simulation of a season of NHL play,
but EA is beginning to reach a point where no more options can be added. The game
is coming as close as computers are able to simulate the sport today – which is
commendable – but maybe the franchise doesn’t need to be updated every year. If
only EA offered updated statistics and teams for download at the end of each year…
LAN and modem play are of course in and both work fairly well. The game is
especially fun when competing in a four on four game over a LAN. You’d be surprised
how hard it is to get your friends to work with you in trying to score; it is
truly a different experience than only being able to control one player at a time.
If there is any way you have the chance to check a large multiplayer game out,
I highly recommend it. It is the best form of NHL ’99 play.
Sure good ol’ Gretzky’s face looks more like him in rendered form. Yeah, the
replays are better and the game as a whole looks a lot more professional. But
do you really need another version of NHL ‘9X? No, especially if you already
’98. NHL ’99 is still a great game, and if you don’t own any in the
series you ought to buy it. But for previous years’ owners, it isn’t recommended.