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Q4 2004



- Some nifty new animations

- Is the only hockey fix this year for GameCube owners

- Makes me nostalgic for 1993



- Not much of an upgrade over last year’s game

- Takes a lot of tweaking to get the preferences to your liking



Review: NHL Hitz 2003 (GC)

Review: NHL 2004 (GC)

Review: NHL Rivals 2004  (XB)



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NHL 2005

Score: 6.0 / 10


I have yet to hear any hopeful news that the 2004/2005 NHL season will be saved.  From my own vantage point, it seems like a pissing match between greedy hockey players and greedy owners – each trying to be greedier than the other.  Sure, it may be more complicated than that but this season is dead.  The year, GameCube owners have only one respite from the current pro-hockey drought: NHL 2005.


nhl 2005 review          nhl 2005 review


If you liked the original Genesis NHL Hockey games you’ll find much to like about NHL 2005, and as with almost every year, it’s simulation enough for the hardcore crowd and too simulation for the arcade fans.  There are a mess of sliders that can be adjust to suit your play preference, but with the default settings it rides the middle ground between Sega’s NHL 2K series and Midway’s retired Hitz series.  There are moves out the wazoo for all sorts of subtle usages to deke defenders or tie-up attackers (with the C-stick) but mostly it’s about the hitting.  Line ‘em up and knock ‘em down – just like in the 16-bit days.  Almost every hit results in a tumbling crush of bodies, which shows off some cool animations but really stops any flow that might build up.  A good hit at a pivotal moment in one thing, a cranium-jarring clang to the ice every hit is another, especially when you’re trying for subtle offensive strategy instead of crashing the net.


On the presentation side, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between this iteration or NHL 2004 or even NHL 2003.  There are new animations and the commentary is even with last year (though still less fun without Don Taylor).





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There are many teams to play around with including teams from the Elite Leagues and the World Cup.  The typical game modes are included, complete with a Free4All mode, which boils down to a mini-game.  The in-depth Dynasty Mode returns but as I shy away from anything that might make me think, I gave the mode short shrift – I’d rather be playing hockey than organizing it!


With friends over, NHL 2005 is a decent title, but if you already own NHL 


2004 you’re probably wasting your time and money for updated player stats, a token number of additions, and some new animations.  That’s not to say NHL 2005 isn’t slickly produced and professionally executed, I’d just like to see EA branch out in terms of hockey to give us something completely new.  I’d love to see a return of Mutant League Hockey or something along the lines of Activision’s Street Hoops.  It might allow the developers to deliver some truly innovative hockey.  Imagine reliving the days of our youth playing street hockey with no pads (or jockstraps) without fear of the neighborhood dog or being hit by a car.  There could be a plethora of unlockable characters, like Wayne and Garth or the Hanson Brothers.  The creative possibilities are endless – not just the mid-riff revealing cutie that comes out with a shovel to patch up the ice we get here.


nhl 2005 review          nhl 2005 review


Sports games are a tough racket.  The developers must surely suffer nightmares trying to reinvent a sport each and every year.  Although it’s a passable addition to the franchise, don’t even consider a purchase if you already own NHL 2004.  It might be the only hockey game going for GameCube this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy it.


Now if you’ll excuse me, NHL Hitz 2003 awaits.


- Omni

(November 1, 2004)

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