SONY PSP PREVIEW: GRETZKY NHL 2006

Oh scratch my back with a hacksaw! Hockey is back baby, but at what price? As we bask in the fallout of an NHL season lost, hockey fans from all over have been trying to fill the icy void. The average fan has moved on to other sports, while hardcore puck fans have stayed true and tried to find their own personal hockey glory.

The most cost efficient road to revisiting hockey is to play video game hockey. In 2005, Gretzky Hockey stepped back into the gaming limelight after a 7 year hiatus. Fortunately the PlayStation 2 rendition was a thousand times better than either title found on the Nintendo 64. Now it's time for the Great One to blast his way back to the PSP.

Attack of the Clones
Gretzky NHL 2006 wavers a bit between true hockey simulation and arcade style hockey. To try and make the game more interesting, developers Page 44 Studios included a brand spanking new mode called "Wayne vs. Wayne."

In this mode your team is rewarded upon performance. Move the puck up along the ice with breakout plays and score goals for your team and you will be awarded "99 Time Points." Once your point total reaches, you guessed it, 99 the Great One himself will hop on the ice on behalf of your team. This is beneficial because you'll have a 6 on 5 player advantage, but freakin Wayne Gretzky will play on your team! You'll be able to use him and his amazing talents to score goals and ultimately rock the casbah.

Biscuit Regurgitation?
With no 2004 - 2005 season there isn't much to base a 2006 title on, especially stat wise. As a gamer and avid hockey fan, myself and many others don't want to play the same game as we did last year. To avoid the repetition, Gretzky 2006 has been stuffed full of new modes.

The same game modes that we've come to know and love are back. Season mode, Exhibition and Online mode have laced up the skates once again. Gretzky's new title does offer up some tasty little vittles in the way of game modes.

Page 44 will be using the PSP's Wi-Fi capabilities in the Infrastructure Mode. What's cool about this mode is that you'll be able to connect and play with other Gretzky 2006 players nationwide.

The Gretzky Challenge will challenge you to be as good as the Great One himself. During gameplay (we're not sure if this means Season mode or Exhibition as well), you can earn special points by breaking Wayne Gretzky's actual NHL records. These points can then be used to unlock more jerseys and also playable versions of Gretzky himself.

We've Hit The Hockey Stride
Unfortunately it seems that most hockey games have hit their stride. There really isn't much of a way to elaborate on gameplay, like EA has done in their Madden football series. The result is the skeletal structure of a hockey game with pretty lights and ornaments that we call innovative game modes. Maybe someday we'll see the ultimate hockey game, but until then we'll just have to play with the PSP's Wi-Fi and players across the country. Awesome.

Features:

  • All-New Wayne vs. Wayne Mode - Prepare for fast-paced, arcade-style action where gamers can activate Wayne Gretzky and play with or face him over the course of a heated game. Achieve "99 Time" and Gretzky will become a temporary playable teammate.
  • Players can add him for a six-on-five offensive attack or attempt to defend against him in the same formation. For the ultimate line-up, gamers who activate Gretzky five times in one game are able to have five playable versions of Gretzky on the ice at the same time.
  • Quick Game - Artificial Intelligence (AI) picks evenly matched teams at random for a quick game on the go.
  • Exhibition - Gamers can select their favorite team and face off in a variety of epic rivalries. Choose from any NHL team to participate in a classic match-up.
  • Season Mode - Assume the role of GM and the responsibility of franchise ownership including the ability to draft, sign, and trade players from NHL teams and play the regular 82 game season.
  • Online Mode - Gamers can compete against friends or other hockey fans in head-to-head play via wireless multiplayer connectivity.
  • Ad Hoc Mode - Two or more PSP systems can communicate directly via Wi-Fi connectivity for regional/local multiplayer gameplay.
  • Infrastructure Mode - Gamers can link to a network through a wireless local area network (WLAN) access point for multiplayer gameplay nationwide.
  • Gretzky Challenge - Through successful gameplay, players can earn points by breaking Gretzky's actual NHL records and utilize those points to unlock hidden items including jerseys, teams, and playable versions of Gretzky from his days as a member of the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, and New York Rangers.
  • All-New Audio Commentary - In-depth action and intensity is highlighted through game commentary delivered by the great Mike Emrick and Darren Pang.
  • Innovative NHL Gameplay - Utilize the shot aiming option to guide the puck past the tenacious goaltender. Set up a perfect one-timer with the give and go and load up the slap shot meter to beat the goalie with ultimate shot.
  • NHL & NHLPA Licensed - Play as or against all NHL teams with access to every player and arena.
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System: PSP
Dev: Page 44 Studios
Pub: Sony
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 4
PReview by Devin
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
NA
GRAPHICS
NA
CONTROL
NA
MUSIC/FX
NA
VALUE
NA