SYSTEM
PSX

PRICE
$39.99

DEVELOPER
Fox

PUBLISHER
Fox Interactive

RELEASE
09/99

NHL Championship 2000 Review

By: John Doe


When I saw this game in action at my local Microplay store, I actually did a double take. "What hockey game is that? It looks great." Mark, the videogame equivalent to the local bartender, filled me in on the game while listening to my tales of late-trailer payments, divorce, the long hours of haulin' and the finest buzzard breath chili at Ma's Diner on the Interstate, which was weird because I know nothing about any of that. What I do know, is that Fox Interactive pulled a pretty good game out of their hats this year. Now give me another cold one and listen to my tales of realistic gameplay, fine lookin' graphics, tough AI and the best commentary this side of Highway 101.


Highs:
Lows:

I love the look of this game. Yes, even more than NHL 2000. Yup. It's so clean. I found NHL 2000 a tad grainy, but NHL Championship 2000 looks mighty fine, with crisp visuals and a smooth framerate. Now the gameplay on the other hand is a tad slow, which might annoy some of you speed freaks out there. But what Fox is going for is realism. This game plays about as fast as a real hockey game (for better or worse) and the skating physics are bang on. However, due to the realism involved this may cause some problems at first. The players move so realistically that videogame hockey fans may find the control a little tough to get used to. The players are subject to the same laws of inertia as real people, which means that you aren't going to stop on a dime and you aren't going to turn as fast as you do in those "other" games. No doubt this may put off some people at first, but give it time and you will be rewarded with a challenging and fun hockey game.

NHL Championship 2000 offers the usual modes of play (Season, Championship, Playoffs and World Tournament) with the Exhibition Game just a start button away at the main menu. Up to 8 players can play at one time making this another great party game. All of the teams are here, as are the real players and stadiums. You even get 18 International teams to mix it up with. You can set the game to play as realistically or as "arcade" as you like by having control over various gameplay options like have "offsides" turned off etc. I highly suggest turning the "Change Lines" to auto. This speeds up the game and won't stick you with a line-up of players that played like 20 year olds in the first period and the cast of the Golden Girls in the third. These guys really get tuckered out. Whew!

The control in NHLC2000, is very good, once you get used to the physics. It also took me awhile to get the hang of passing. The passing control is decent but again, very realistic. The puck won't be magically attracted to your teammates stick and vice versa. You'll have to aim if you want to get that puck over to your partner. Again, this falls into realistic over imaginary categories. I personally liked the over-all challenge of it all. It made the game much more interesting to know that I could and probably would screw up that important pass. And may I recommend now to turn off the puck trails and the puck cursor right away. Unless you are playing with Mr. Magoo, I doubt you'll need them. Those puck trails reminded me too much of that Wayne Gretzky Hockey on N64. No thanks. The CPU's AI is a little on the easy side at first, without being stupid. It will give you a fair fight while you are learning the ropes. Later difficulties will push you to the limits of gamedom though. I think I scored twice in my last Championship game. Expect some competition. I didn't have a chance to try out the 8 player mode, but it sounds like a blast. Maybe one day. It's hard enough feeding Player 2 when he's over. I don't know how I could imagine feeding and cleaning up after Players 2-8. I'd need some of that Voom from the Cat in the Hat (please read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Suess to understand that reference) to take care of that disaster. The drool alone would probably be enough to send Noah to the boat supply store again.

The commentary is out of this world. Nothing touches it. Fox Announcers Kenny Albert and John Davidson must have been in the studio for weeks recording that stuff. Not only does the commentary instantly match what is taking place on the ice, but the color commentary and little personal details about the players are as informative as they are entertaining. Bravo! The sound effects, organ music and crowd noise are done well, but nothing compares to that commentary.

Complaint Dept. Now as I've already said, I enjoyed the challenges that this game presented. I did find myself wishing that these guys wouldn't get so tired. That's when I longed for the faster gameplay of NHL 2000. I would get that breakaway and it would literally seem like my guy was swimming to the net, which made my chest hurt from panic and anxiety. Or maybe it was the bag of Lays and the cokes... You can't beat the overall realism though. By far one of the most realistic playing hockey games ever made.

It all comes down to you. What do you want in a hockey game? If you are looking for something different that plays well, by all means check this game out. Whatever you do, don't count this game out because it isn't NHL 2000 or NHL FaceOff 2000. That would be judging a book by its cover and we all know how wrong that is. Imagine if we judged your intelligence by how far down your pants were or how many rings you had in your face? Oh wait, we do judge you like that. Okay, bad example. Final thought: There is a new game in town and I'd be very surprised if next years installment didn't kick a lot of ass. NHL Championship 2000 is very playable and well on it's way to being great, if something horrible doesn't happen. Keep your eye on this extremely promising series.

OVERALL
8.5

GRAPHICS
9.0

CONTROL
7.5

MUSIC/FX
9.5

FRUSTRATION
7.0

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