- Excellent visuals
- Open Ice Function
- Online play
- Two button shooting
- World Cup of Hockey
- ESPN NHL 2K5 is a better game in
- Commentating seems recycled and uninteresting
- Default settings will need to be tweaked the first time you
- Plays extremely similar to last yearís game
- Free 4 All mode canít compete with the Party mode in ESPN NHL
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Score: 6.7 / 10
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
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
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.
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.
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.