PC | 3DS, DS, PSP | Wii | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360 | Retired: GBA | GameCube |PlayStation 2| Xbox |

News | Reviews | Previews | Features | Classics | Goodies | Anime | YouTube

only search AE












Black Box



E (Everyone)



Q3 2003



- Hockey the way it should be: tons of hits, fights, and action
- Crowds are greatly detailed
- New season and franchise mode



- Only partial rosters available
- Mini-games and fantasy rinks aren’t really necessary
- Won’t appease the true hockey simulation crowd



Review: NHL 2003 (XB)

Review: ESPN NHL Hockey (XB)

Review: ESPN NHL Hockey (PS2)



Be notified of site updates. Sign-up for the Newsletter sent out twice weekly.

Enter E-Mail Address Below:

Subscribe | Unsubscribe

NHL Hitz 2003

Score: 9.0 / 10


nhl hitz 2003 xbox review  nhl hitz 2003 xbox review  nhl hitz 2003 xbox review


There is an old joke about the game of hockey: “I went to a fight last night and a hockey game broke out.” This perfectly describes NHL Hitz 2003 on the Xbox, the latest rendition of Midway’s hockey title in its arcade-style sports lineup. Being a Philadelphia Flyers fan, I can’t help thinking old school to the days of the Stanley Cup winning Broad Street Bullies when playing Hitz 2003. The Hanson Brothers from the movie “Slapshot” would feel right at home on someone’s Hitz 2003 roster.

Hitz 2003 brings to its unique three-on-three hockey game all the hard-hitting, arena glass smashing, and flying-fists fighting that makes hockey exciting and did away with the one distraction that can make hockey low-scoring and boring: the rulebook. Basically the game does away with all hockey-playing rules like icing, interference, roughing, or two-line passes. Hitz 2003 is anarchy on ice. Despite throwing the rulebook out the window and only being a three-on-three showdown




- Xbox Game Reviews

- Sports Game Reviews

- Games Published by Midway

(with the goalie as the fourth ice tenant) Hitz 2003 is a solid hockey videogame.

The ONLY two penalties that are called is fighting (the game’s dynamics really change when it becomes two-on-two hockey) and running into the goalie. Oddly enough, you can clobber the hell out of the goalie if he’s just a step out of the net, but in the crease he’s off limits. If you’re daring,


the goalie can skate the puck up. But if the puck gets stolen from him, it’s an easy goal for the other team. (I have scored by skating the goalie up the ice and firing one on goal. But I would strongly suggest having your team “on fire” before attempting changing the goalie into a forward. )

Immediately noticeable are the improvements to the amount of modes available. There’s now a season mode, where you go through an entire 82-game schedule in a quest for the Cup. Even more impressive is the franchise mode, which allows you to build from the ground up a new hockey franchise. There’s also a hockey school, where the legendary coach Scotty Bowman himself is the professor, and a mini-game mode. This mini-game mode, along with the fantasy rinks such as the wild west, seem to have been thrown in just for the sake of Midway claiming they’re in the game. They just are diversionary at best and easily ignored at worse.

It isn’t just a back and forth break-away-thon with tons of goals in Hitz 2003. To be successful in this game against either the CPU or human competition, you’ll actually need to play defense. If you don’t show some interest in defensive play, expect many a goal to be scored against you. Of course, defense in Hitz 2003 terms involves a lot of heavy hitting.

Checking in Hitz 2003 is the best part of the game. There’s nothing like laying out your opponent or even better, give him a glass-shard shower by sending him hurtling through the arena’s glass partitions. Hit a player too many times, though, and its time for a little fisticuffs.

One great aspect of fighting is that there actually is (besides your pride) a reason to care if you score a knockout. The player that is the loser in the fight isn’t available to use for the rest of the game. So if you are playing as the Dallas Stars and Mike Modano happens to get into a brawl, if he loses you just lost your best scorer for the rest of the game. I also got a kick out of the fact that even the goalies will throw down their gloves and go at it.

But you can get some high-scoring contests, especially if you have a tough-checking team. Players are rated not only their speed and shooting ability, but also their checking and toughness. While you might think that building a team full of high-speed scoring machines with little toughness in their game like the Mighty Ducks’ Paul Kariya or the Rangers’ Pavel Bure is the best way to go, having lesser scorers who possess some grit to their game such as the Blackhawks’ Theo Fleury or the Flyers’ Jeremy Roenick is the best way to really build a winner. So with a roster of tough guys who have some scoring touch, you should have a good team to compete.


nhl hitz 2003 xbox review        nhl hitz 2003 xbox review

There’s more than one way to get the puck from your opponent and into their net. Body-checking, poke-checking, defending the puck when skating, and even blocking are control commands available in addition to shooting and passing. By using either of the two Xbox controller triggers, you can also blast the turbo speed and dump the puck (which comes in real handy when killing penalties).

One other controller function that you’ll use is the patented “on fire” button, which sets either your whole team or only one skater “on fire”, giving them or him super-human mad hockey skills for about 30 seconds or so. You do actually get engulfed in flames on-screen, which make Hitz the only place where fire and ice do mix. The more checks you rack up, the more your “on fire” meter fuels up. Get one bar filled, and one player on the ice will go “on fire.” Fill up both and the whole team is blazing.

Hitz 2003’s aesthetics are generally excellent. Visually, the game is rendered nicely. The facial detail of the players is incredible. There’s no denying who the player is when you get a close-up glimpse of the facial features. The ice and lighting effect reflecting off the player’s helmets are life-like too. Another great touch is the detailed crowd that fills the arena’s seats. No pixilated and flat cardboard cutouts sitting in Hitz 2003’ seats. These are some of the best crowd graphics that have shown up in a sports game, period.

The sounds of the game are well done too, particularly when you send someone on a one-way trip through the rink glass. Trash-talk between players is also humorously included. Music is a mix of hard-rocking tuneage that complements the flavor of Hitz 2003 nicely. The only complaint about the music is that it isn’t always easy to hear during the game. The announcers do a generally good job of calling the game, but one little strange quirk I found was with the Flyers’ Mark Recchi. One announcer was correctly calling him “Recchi” but the other referred to him as “Reechi”.

As far as the game’s artificial intelligence challenge level, Hitz 2003 is an uneven offering. On rookie level, you won’t get much of a challenge from the game’s AI. (I can routinely rack up 15 goals a game.) That also happens against human competition when the settings are on rookie. But bump up the AI to pro or higher and it isn’t easy to score goals without getting a good feel for the game’s controls and using a lot of effective passing.

My only minor complaint with the game is having only partial rosters of each NHL team. Most of the team’s top players are there, but then again, some good players aren’t. The Flyers roster doesn’t include young Justin Williams, who is developing into a good NHLer. If you don’t like the make-up of your roster, you can trade players. But the CPU will only allow fair trades based on the ratings of the players being offered in trade.

So if an individual player you want is rated 80, the CPU won’t let you acquire him for a player with a 60 rating. I did seem to find a way around this though. Offer two players you don’t want with each having a similar rating, say 75. Attempt to trade him for a player with a 90 and another with a low rating such as 60. The CPU will see this as balanced and approve the trade. I was able to stock my Flyers’ roster with players like Eric Lindros, Patrick Roy, and Pavol Demitra for what amounted to chump change.

Hockey videogame fans that want a good hard-hitting, action filled arcade-style game that isn’t a simulation of the actual NHL brand of hockey (you know, with rules) can’t go wrong with NHL Hitz 2003. It looks great, plays great, and with the addition of a franchise and season mode, gives you plenty of incentive to keep playing. Hitz 2003’s style of hockey is how I sometimes wish the NHL really played its game.

- Lee Cieniawa

(November 3, 2002)


Digg this Article!  | del.icio.us 

Advertise | Site Map | Staff | RSS Feed           Web Hosting Provided By: Hosting 4 Less


 - CivFanatics-   - Coffee, Bacon, Flapjacks! -    - Creative Uncut -      - DarkZero -     - Dreamstation.cc -   

 - gamrReview-     - Gaming Target-    - I Heart Dragon Quest -    - New Game Network -

- The Propoganda Machine -    - PS3 : Playstation Universe -     - Zelda Dungeon - 

All articles ©2000 - 2014 The Armchair Empire.

All game and anime imagery is the property of their respective owners.

Privacy Statement - Disclaimer