SYSTEM
PSX

PRICE
$44.99

DEVELOPER
EA Sports

PUBLISHER
Electronic Arts

RELEASE
10/99

NHL 2000 Review

By: John Doe


Electronic Arts out does themselves with this latest installment of their incomparable hockey franchise. This game is so good that non-hockey fans (and I'm the biggest non-hockey fan alive!) should buy this game. Aside from some graphical upgrades in the future due to new gaming platforms, you have to wonder just how much better this series could get? Hands down one of the best hockey games ever made.


Highs:
Lows:

I love a sports game that lets me play it the way I want to play it. NHL 2000 is that kind of game. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a true simulation of hockey with 20 minute periods, penalties and offsides, and other times I want to play my version of NHL Blitz, with all the rules turned off for that quick and satisfying arcade style gameplay. Either way you play NHL 2000, you are going to come away feeling that this game has reached a certain stage in it's development where the only improvements from here on in will be cosmetic. Of course, we know that's not really true; EA will never stop tinkering until they get the artificial intelligence just right when playing against the CPU. Mind you it could be said that the humans I play against also sport a somewhat intermediate level of artificial intelligence. I've never seen the CPU shove a controller into it's mouth and bite on it, like some of the geniuses I've played with.

The game shows significant improvement over last year's effort with a faster framerate, faster gameplay and two great new moves; the deke and the big hit. For those of us (myself included) who tried to fake out the goalie in previous games but could never get the hang of it, the deke button is a welcome friend. And for Tie Domi fans that would like nothing more than to slam someone around, the big hit button is for you. No wonder fights break out after being pummeled like that.

Graphically NHL 2000, looks slightly inferior than '99, but that has to do with the increased framerate more than anything. It may not look as awe-inspiringly beautiful as the PC version, but it is smooth nonetheless. The animations of the players while skating or shooting have been improved, making this years game the most realistic yet. Controlling your players in an NHL game from EA has never been a problem and this game is no different; passing, slapshots, deking, skating and hitting are all spot on. The only fly in the ointment is the weak fighting mode, which has been relegated to rapid button mashing. But what do you want? This is a hockey game not Tekken 4.

As mentioned earlier, NHL 2000 lets you play the game the way you want to so it provides various gameplay modes that allow you to do just that. NHL veterans and hockey buffs can take their team through a season, trading players and signing free agents. Newbies and casual players will be able to hit the ice with minimal knowledge of hockey or video games for that matter and have a blast right away with the Exhibition mode. Pick two teams, decide on your various options (penalties off, offsides off, icing off etc.) and go!

The commentary by NHL mainstay Jim Hughson and newcomer (to the NHL series) Bill Clement is fantastic. This feature just keeps getting better and will astound and amaze those players not able to grasp the notion that video games can actually do this. The commentary is so realistic that there are even mentions of raffle tickets and whatnot between periods. The various announcements such as goals, injuries and penalties even have ambient reverb as though it were actually being announced over the public address system in an arena. The sound effects are excellent as well. Everything from the metallic clank of the puck against the goalpost to the thud of the body checks to the smack of the slap shot are the supporting stars of the show. The music and crowd noise are equally important and the utmost attention has been paid by EA to make NHL 2000 sound as realistic as it plays.

What more can I say? If you love hockey games you already have NHL 2000 or you are seriously punishing yourself. Even if you aren't a hockey fan and I can't stress this enough, you need this game in your collection. Seriously. When a game is produced with this much attention to detail it needs to be experienced. As many of you know, I am not a sports fan at all. Not in the slightest. I wouldn't watch a sports event by accident. But EA Sports makes me want to play their games because they do them so incredibly well. Let me tell you that there is no higher praise than that. Highly recommended.

OVERALL
9.5

GRAPHICS
8.0

CONTROL
9.5

MUSIC/FX
9.5

FRUSTRATION
2.0

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