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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Canada

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Decent hockey title

 

 

- The sport hasn't changed, ditto for the videogame

 

 

Review: NHL Faceoff 2003 (Playstation 2)

Review: NHL 2003 (XBox)

 

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NHL 2003

Score: 7.0 / 10

In my NBA Live 2003 review I lamented the staleness of digitized basketball, arguing that the mechanics of the sport made a poor videogame. What resulted was a game that appealed to neither the physical exhilaration of basketball or the tactile delight of its medium. In short, a game that only a sports fan, as opposed to a gamer, could relate to.  

 

nhl-2003-pc-1.jpg (25289 bytes)         nhl-2003-pc-2.jpg (18416 bytes)

I referenced Ice Hockey as one to make a better fist of the transition, based largely on my experiences years ago with NHL Live 2001. I knew little of Ice Hockey then (Salt Lake City: Canada vs USA was a year away), but I could relate to NHL 2001 because it succeeded as a game. It was simple, fast and fluid and wasn't afraid to compromise realism for more dynamic play.

So it's with irony that I play this year's NHL Live 2003, which tweaks the aforementioned format for a more true-to-life representation. The turbo button is toned down and big checks aren't nearly as effective. Goalies are more accurate. 

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It's more the about the simulation this time, although the game still maintains much of its brisk pace.

 

You get four play modes: Franchise, Playoffs, International and Online with all 30 NHL Teams and 20 International Teams available. There's options galore, letting you customise difficulty, starting roster, season name/length, playoff format, referee type (NHL/International) and what teams you play. You even customise the friction/elasticity of the puck and create/edit your own player from scratch.

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Similar to NBA Live's Freestyle mode is the Dynamic Deke system which allows you to manipulate the puck manually using the directional pad. Deke like a pro and you can fill up the Game Breaker meter, which causes everything, save the active player, to move in slow motion.  

 

nhl-2003-pc-3.jpg (17576 bytes)         nhl-2003-pc-4.jpg (33123 bytes)

 

Like its basketball cousin, NHL Live bestows certain strengths upon renowned players. These include Big Hitter, Big Shooter, Sniper or Hero. Amusingly, there's a Fighting feature where you can enact brawls on the ice using Overhands, Jabs and Uppercuts.

Presentation is all that's left to discuss and it's of the usual high standards. Player models animate well and are nicely detailed; of particular note is the reflection of the rink lights on helmets and faceplates. Sound effects and commentary are also top quality. Overall, NHL 2003 is a technical update with numerous gameplay tweaks and a move towards realism. Fans will love it, but there's no harm with sticking with previous games in the NHL series.

 

- Justin Liew

(February 1, 2003)

 

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