SYSTEM
PS2

PRICE
$49.99

DEVELOPER
EA Sports

PUBLISHER
Electronic Arts

RELEASE DATE
10/00

NHL 2001 Review

By: John Doe


Me Canadian. Me like hockey lots. Actually, me lie. Me HATE hockey. Don't ask me why. I even played it as a kid. I spent most of my time beating the crap out of a teammate. That's right. Not an opponent. A teammate. I'm not even a violent person, but once I hit the ice, it was like, "I'll kill you all!" I had a certain distaste for this fellow on my team, and it was obviously mutual. Did I mention I was 6 years old? I think I actually originated fighting in hockey. Other people saw me, this wild 6-year-old mental patient who would even attack his own players, and they were like, "Hey, maybe this could work in the real sport." I played Right Wing and to this day, I still don't know what a real Right Wing guy is supposed to do. Can he cross the line? What is that called again. The blue line. Yeah that's it. Do you get the impression, I'm not really qualified to review sports games? Yeah, me too. But I'm all you got punk. At least on this website, and considering all of the other video game websites all went out of business last night, I guess you and I better try and get along. But of course, I tease. I may know dick about real hockey, but virtual hockey is my bag. Yes sir. And this one is a fine one. Although, just like the rest of these so-called "hockey" games, you cannot attack your own players. That's ludicrous! That's not like real hockey to me at all. Wake up EA. You are missing a great opportunity here. You can't tell me all of these Neanderthals (and I say that with the utmost respect...No I don't) love each other because they are on the same team. Get outta town!


Highs:
Lows:

The graphics in NHL 2001 look absolutely fantastic. They are extremely crisp, and the detail is amazing. For once in a hockey game, the player's faces actually look life-like, instead of a generic, blank-faced character. Every player, no matter how obscure, has his face accurately portrayed. And the crowd is just as well done as the players, with a bunch of well-defined people, instead of just a blob of bodies. The arenas also look great, and the camera angles are superb, following the action as closely as possible. The animation is extremely fluid and realistic, with a speedy and very consistent frame rate. There's very little to complain about in the graphics department. Except, and here's the big BUT, the game has quite a bit of slowdown which really detracts from the experience of playing this great series on the PS2. I didn't see slowdown in NHL 98 or NHL 2000 on the PSX, so why am I seeing it here?

On the plus side, the control is trademark EA, really tight and responsive. This game feels like real hockey. All of the moves have been retained from previous versions, like Deke, and all of the necessary power shots, one-timers etc. You can still play NHL 2001 with the rules all turned off, if you enjoy more of the arcade style of play, but learning how to manage your lines is part of the appeal of these games. You can be coach, center, goalie and even Right Wing guy if you can figure out what he is supposed to do. Drop me a line if you do. Solve the mystery for me and end those horrible nightmares, which always end with me screaming, "Why can't I go across the blue line?"

The biggest downfall, and this may be only apparent to those of us who have been playing NHL for years and years, is that the AI has been really dumbed down. The Beginner and Rookie modes won't provide much challenge for seasoned players and you'll be hard pressed to even get a work out on the Pro & All-Star settings. The play really comes down to getting a multi-tap and playing against your friend's artificial intelligence. If you can find a good player - and I mean, come on, who hasn't mastered this game yet - you'll wring your enjoyment out of that experience.

The sound is superb and well crafted. The game's sounds are so real, you'll swear you actually walked into an arena. The sound of the crowd is realistic and very well done, as opposed to many other sports games that use very boring, generic samples of crowds. The music is very cool, and the sound of slapshots, hits, skates on the ice, and the referee's whistle are all amazingly realistic. And the announcing is great. Instead of just saying a bunch of corny lines that barely even relate what's going on in the game, the broadcaster and color commentator actually say things that describe what's going on in the game, and provide very interesting information as well.

Overall, NHL 2001 may not be the greatest in the series, although it looks the best, but that will probably matter little to those who bought a PS2 to play EA's excellent sports titles in the first place. Just heed my warning that this game is infinitely better when playing against human opponents, which makes the demand for Internet play on the PS2 all that much more anticipated. This one is good, but not great. Yet.

OVERALL
7.5

GRAPHICS
7.5

CONTROL
8.5

MUSIC/FX
8.0

FRUSTRATION
2.0

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