Xbox on ice. Review

NHL 2002 Info

genre

  • Sports

players

  • 1 - 4

Publisher

  • EA
  • EA Sports

Developer

  • EA Sports

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC
  • PS2
  • Xbox

rating

Xbox on ice.

Being a video game reviewer is a tougher job than most people think. You spend

long, sleepless nights with your eyes plastered to the idiot box with barely enough

sanity left over from the

last 3DO game
you had to review. Then your eyes bug out, the blisters in your

thumbs explode, and you still have to deal with all the mail that tells you ‘you

don’t know what you’re talking about’ even though you’ve probably spent more time

with the game than the testers have.

But every once in a while, something great happens. Something so amazing,

that you’d swear this job was worth more than the scads of Haw

Flakes
and pidan

you get paid in.

Last year, EA threw together a so-so NHL game for the Playstation 2 that got

a so-so

review
. Apparently, the EA Sports team read my review and fixed almost

every single complaint
I had about last season’s game. You want gameplay?

You want new features? You want a hockey game that r0xx0rs your b0xx0rs? NHL

2002
does the trick perfectly. It is one of the best hockey games I’ve played,

and it’s all thanks to me. In turn, I’d like to take this time to thank EA Sports

for listening, the Foster

Imposters
for becoming an excellent lunch, and you, dear reader, for indulging

me in this little fantasy.

Now, NHL 2002 is available for the Xbox in a picture perfect port of

the Playstation 2 version. The graphics are just a smidgen better than the original

and, thanks to the Xbox hardware, four-player multiplayer games are now supported.

Other than that, it’s the exact same game.

Just like its PS2 brother, the Xbox version of NHL 2002 shows off some

great overall gameplay. The framerate is blazing, the checking is plenty powerful,

and new touches like manual dekes and saucer passes are thrown in for good measure.

All this, along with an easy to handle control scheme, makes playing the game

a breeze. The game flows much more smoothly in all respects, from the start

of the opening ceremonies to the final buzzer. It’s fast, it’s furious, and

it’s as close as you’ll ever get to controlling an NHL game on TV.

The usual game modes are here, from the typical quick pre-season outing to

the monstrous ten season Career mode. If you’ve ever played the EA’s NHL series,

you know exactly what kind of modes to expect. And if you ever want to get through

them all, it will take a long time.

NHL 2002 also treats players to new NHL cards for added replay value.

These cards are just like Madden

cards
and will add new abilities or unlock Easter eggs to enhance your game.

One of the modes I unlocked was Shrink ‘n Grow, where players would shrink when

they got leveled and grow when they scored. By the third period, I had a Godzilla-sized

Teemu Selanne and a bite-sized Owen Nolan. Very fun and very funny.

The

Create-A-Player has also been enhanced with a new face builder feature. Now

you can put your face in the game! Well, sort of. A bunch of the game’s player

faces don’t really look like their real life counterparts, but it’s still not

too bad.

The graphics are as good as ever, but the whole jiggly midsection that was

found in 2001 still pops up every now and then. These jigglies are still

found in the Xbox version, but if you put both versions side by side, you’ll

notice slightly smoother player models on the Xbox.

The sound is actually good. You get plenty of great, authentic sound effects

as well as a few inoffensive tunes from the Barenaked Ladies and Sum 41. But

the ace in the hole is the announcing. Yep, for once in well, ever, I actually

enjoy the announcing. It doesn’t repeat itself as much as most sports games

do and you’ll actually laugh now and then. I’m so stupefied, I’ll just move

on.

For an added dramatic flair, EA has introduced a few new camera effects. Make

an amazing save and you’ll see it up close. Drop a big hit and you’ll revisit

the brutality in a fancy replay. Occasionally, these two insta-zooms can be

distracting, but they really do increase the dramatics of the game. Another

new feature is the breakaway cam. Speed down the ice faster than the rest and

the camera will pull in close behind your man, setting up the one-on-one battle

perfectly. It’s also good for gloating in the face of the opposing goalie.

The worst and pretty much only snafu with NHL 2002 is the lame fighting.

I didn’t think that last year’s rock ’em, sock ’em fighting could get any worse,

but it feels like it has. Maybe that’s because the rest of the game is so good,

it makes you wonder how something this lame managed to find it’s way into the

final product. If hockey is life, then fighting is like breathing. Is it too

much to ask for a block and grab button? Take a cue from NHL Hitz, guys.

Oh well, at least this leaves room for improvement next year.

So there you have it. EA has taken their little heart-shaped gaming ice sculpture

and passed it on to the Xbox. Feel the love. Check out NHL 2002.





REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4.5
Rating
Much improved gameplay
NHL Cards adds replay
4 player for Xbox
Wow, just about everything is better
But the fighting still sucks bad