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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Canada

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2004

 

 

- Excellent visuals
- Open Ice Function
- Online play
- Two button shooting
- World Cup of Hockey

 

 

- ESPN NHL 2K5 is a better game in almost everyway
- Commentating seems recycled and uninteresting
- Default settings will need to be tweaked the first time you play
- Plays extremely similar to last yearís game
- Free 4 All mode canít compete with the Party mode in ESPN NHL 2K5

 

 

Review: NHL 2004 (XB)

Review: NHL 2003 (XB)

Review: ESPN NHL Hockey (XB)

Review: ESPN NHL Hockey (PS2)

 

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NHL 2005

Score: 6.7 / 10

 

nhl 2005         nhl 2005

 

This year hockey fans seem to be short-changed with a lockout in place. There seems like there wonít be any season at all this year. Thankfully there is no absence of hockey titles.

EA Sports hockey series has always seemed to suffer from the ďodd year jinxĒ. As far back as NHL 99, the series has struggled to make drastic improvements in the 1999, 2001, and 2003 versions. This season is no different as NHL 2005 doesnít feature nearly as many improvements as Segaís hockey title.

The game still plays like an arcade version of hockey, at least when compared to ESPN NHL 2k5. The first thing youíll notice about this yearís game is that the default settings need to be tweaked. There are almost no penalties called at the default settings, so you can basically get away with everything.

The gameplay and most game modes from the last year are relatively the same with a few minor tweaks here and there. One of my biggest gripes with last yearís game was the lack of open ice play. Every two seconds youíd find your player lying

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on the ice from hit after hit. It got to the point where youíd feel like your playing NHL Hitz. This year one of the biggest additions to the on ice play is the new open ice function. The open ice function allows you to take control of a player without the puck when your team is on offense. You can then position your player however youíd like. The open ice function works pretty good, but take time to master properly.

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Also when you switch players when youíre on offense that camera still remains focused on the player with the puck so at times you wonít be able to see exactly where your player is.

Another welcome change to the on-ice gameplay is the switch to a two shoot button feature. There are two separate shoot buttons: one for slap shots and one for wrist shots. The game has also placed a heavier emphasis on face-off strategies. Before each face-off you can position your players in a certain fashion. Taking a page out of NHL Hitz Pro from last year, EA has included a new wrap around button. When you go behind the opposing teamís net and press the B button your player will attempt to do a quick wrap around. The wrap around button increases the goal variety in the game, so itís a nice addition.

Last yearís widely popular Dynasty Mode is back and it features some nifty new upgrades as well. One of the coolest new additions has to do with editing your lines. There is a new team chemistry feature. In previous editions of the game, you could usually just stack your lines with the top goal scorers and have success. Well now, different players will display chemistry with one another. Rather than stacking your lines with goal scorers you could have a goal scorer, play maker and a heavy hitter on a line and still have great team chemistry. Like last yearís game there is also a large financial aspect to managing your team. Youíll also be fairly in touch with your teamís management as there is a new email system that allows you to see news from around the league and emails from your teamís owner.

 

nhl 2005         nhl 2005


At the beginning of the dynasty mode youíre given a series of goals that your team must accomplish, such as making the playoffs or winning the Stanley Cup. If you donít successfully accomplish your goals then your Dynasty mode is over. However, there is no option to turn these goals on or off. So if you donít enjoy this aspect of the Dynasty Mode, then youíre better off playing the Season Mode.

If youíve played ESPN NHL 2K5, then youíll know that there is a game mode called Party Mode. The Party Mode consisted of sixteen mini-games testing your passing, hitting, shooting and skating skills. EAís answer to this is the new Free-4-All mode. The Free-4-All mode can be played with up to four players. The game is one on one and the winner is determined by who scores the most goals. There is also some nice customization to this mode, such the inclusion of AI controlled defensemen to make things more interesting. Unfortunately, the Free-4-All mode comes nowhere near the fun and innovative experience as ESPNís Party Mode. Last summer, the only hockey available involving real NHL players was the World Cup of Hockey. This yearís game features the World Cup of Hockey. Youíll get to play as all the teams that played in last summerís tournament.

For the second year in a row Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson provide the play-by-play and for the second year in a row it proves to be a disappointment. ESPN NHL 2K5 has set the bar for what a sports gameís play by play should sound like. Lots of Jim Hughsonís lines sound recycled from the previous years, while Craig Simpson just doesnít have a whole lot to say.

This yearís hockey title from EA Sports hasnít changed much from last season. If you own NHL 2004, then youíre not going to find many new features in this yearís game. Youíre better off picking up ESPN NHL 2K5 because for the third year in a row Segaís hockey series takes the Cup as itís made the furthest leap forward in improvements.

- Siddharth Masand
(November 11, 2004)

 

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