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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

989 Sports/SCEA

 

Developer

989 Sports/SCEA

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2004

 

- Inclusion of every different Gretzky era (Oilers, Kings, Blues, Rangers)

- Excellent “tipped” puck physics

- Give-and-Go is a welcome addition

 

 

- Defensive AI?

- Slow control response

- Half of the Gretzky Challenges would require 100+ hours to do

- 3 Megs for a save file? Are you kidding?

 

 

Review: NHL FaceOff 2003 (PS2)

Review: NHL 2005 (GC)

Review: NHL Hitz Pro (PS2)

 

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Gretzky NHL 2005

Score: 6.0 / 10

 

There’s just something strange about reviewing a hockey game during a lockout. I can’t quite put my finger on it – it just seems blasphemous somehow to be playing a NHLPA licensed game when there’s no hockey to be seen. Anyways, 989 Sports return to the hockey market is with “The Great One” himself, Wayne Gretzky.

 

gretzky nhl 2005          gretzky nhl 2005

 

As of the game’s release, all NHL rosters were frozen so there have been no trades or free agent signings which is a really nasty way to make your franchise a powerhouse by signing a ton of free agents then trading them for the best players in the league (which I didn’t abuse at all… no siree bob... ok, just a little…). Even more enticing than the opportunity to turn your team into a dynasty is how you can unlock 4 different Waynes: from his first NHL season with the Oilers, his first year with the Kings, his half-season with the Blues, and his final seasons with New York.

           

Gretzky NHL 2005 has a few modes of play: Practice (which you even do without opponents), Exhibition (quick game), Franchise (can just play out seasons, or can get into the whole trade and free agent signing quagmire that accountants and sadists find so amusing), Tournament Mode (can play an International tournament or the Playoffs), and Rivalry Mode (a chance to play against the same friend repeatedly and have statistics kept of the games – I don’t know why they created a mode to do this). The Franchise mode does have a few quirks though, for some reason, no other team besides the one you control seems particularly interested in free agents and some really good ones will remain unsigned for long stretches of time. The drafts turn out a dirge of really good players, I don’t recall that many freshly-drafted rookies getting to play on the main team – better use of having players skills improve if they remain in the farm system would probably have been better.

 

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In-game action is acceptable, the game camera does give some really good camera angles – especially the TV angles which work really good until you get closer to the boards. Game play isn’t as fast as we’ve seen with some of the EA Sports titles, nor are the controls as responsive. I found myself being screwed out of some easy plays by a really delayed response to a pass which leaves the stick five seconds after the intended target has moved (and I ended up dumping the puck into my own zone during a 

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power-play). The response isn’t just limited to passing – I’ve been stripped of the puck more than a few times as the game didn’t recognize that I had released the shoot button and was still holding onto the puck for some reason.

 

The defensive AI just doesn’t work on any level – if they aren’t riding too deep in the offensive zone, they are doing their impersonation of a traffic cone (doing nothing and in the way) and don’t wait for them to chase down loose pucks.

 

To the positives!

 

The “give-and-go” is just sick, hit the pass button and hold on. When you let go of the button, you’ll get the puck right back, which is nice for some barn burning. The floating puck physics are perfect for once, a puck in the air in front of player isn’t under his control (nor the goalie’s) it is floating and skating into it will cause it to move with the motion as it is tipped.

 

The game has some really neat unlockable bonus items (besides the Great One) – some old school jerseys, some of Gretzky’s old teams, and a few “cheats”. To unlock these features, you have to complete Gretzky Challenges during the course of playing the game – some are basic like win five face-offs, or score a hat-trick, but some are just insane like win the Art Ross Trophy 8 times (yeah, I’ll get right on that) in Franchise mode. Those shut-ins or people with a raging case of obsessive-compulsive disorder will be the only ones to accomplish all the tasks. The only thing more distressing than the amount of time required, is the amount of memory card space that will be required to do so – 3 MB! Insane!

 

gretzky nhl 2005          gretzky nhl 2005

 

The game’s visuals are nice, all the players and coaches represent well and they even do the little things like raise their arms into hits and flip the puck.

 

It’s the sound that is the most annoying – the menu and in-game music is just brutal (so much so that I’d mute the TV while I traversed the menus), the sound effects don’t sound like anything that you would ever hear at a hockey game, and the announcing is just plain wrong. The announcers Mike Emrick and Darren Pang come across well, but their advice and analysis is repeated so often and can sometimes be just plain wrong (Mike would insist that every hit was a cross check for some reason). A little more dialogue and a better recognition system would have improved this feature greatly.

 

All in all, Gretzky NHL 2005 does have a few new twists that add into the game’s enjoyment, but it really can’t compete with the titles that do it better.

 

- Tazman

(December 13, 2004)

 

“A city weeps, as a hockey area becomes the scene of violence for the first time ever.”

- Kent Brockman (Simpsons)

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