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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Midway Sports

 

Developer

Next Level Games

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2003

 

 

- You can finally hit those uppity goalies

- A great pick-up-and-play sports game

- Want to hit every player on the ice – YOU CAN! Want to hit someone through the glass? YOU CAN!

 

 

- Graphics just aren’t as good as the competition

- Don’t expect many close games, think football scores

- Fighting system is real sad

 

 

Review: NHL Hitz 2003 (PS2)

Review: NHL Hockey 2004 (XB)

Review: ESPN NHL 2004 (PS2)

 

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NHL Hitz Pro

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

With having been around the Armchair Empire as long as I have (and having been a hardcore gamer and general technophile for decades) you generate a tendency to look at a new game cover and can usually decide if you’re going to want the game or not pretty quickly; it’s not intentional, but it does happen.

 

nhl hitz pro          nhl hitz pro

 

NHL Hitz Pro (NHP) had the whole “cheap knock off vibe” just from the cover, and I wasn’t really itching to play the game but I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised in a way that I haven’t been in a while. This is the first sports game in a while that incorporated the “pick up and play” feel. Most sports games have become so involved that you can’t just play without being in the right mindset, but this is the first sports game in a while where I can put the game in and have a quick blitz of fun and be ready for the world again. Non-time consuming games – Lord, how I’ve missed you.

 

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- Playstation 2 Game Reviews

- Sports Game Reviews

- Reviews of Games Published by Midway

This game is obviously from Midway, although it feels like an updated version of the greatest hockey game ever – NHLPA ’92 from EA Sports. You know the one – no official license so they couldn’t use team names, but they did have a really good fighting engine and the action was end to end. NHP feels exactly the same, you can move the puck freely and when you turn the penalties off the game becomes more like carnage than hockey and is an absolute blast to play. (NHP also features online availability – but I don’t have a network connection or adapter for my PS2 so I won’t talk about that feature.)

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The game has five modes of play: Exhibition, Franchise, Season/Playoffs, Pick-up Hockey, and Hockey School. Exhibition and Season/Playoffs are pretty much what you’d expect – choose a team and have at it. The Season mode incorporates trades so you can try to wheel and deal your way towards the Stanley Cup. The Franchise mode does include an interesting twist – you control an up and coming team that is trying to earn its way into the NHL; you can get there by winning… which is only going to happen if you bring your players along correctly and make the right trades to improve your team. The pick-up games are exactly like they sound, it’s the opportunity to play on a frozen pond, a park rink, or in an in-line game with pre-set teams (all local teams, not pro teams or players) – kind of different, it’s neat the first few times but loses its appeal. Hockey school just gives you the opportunity to learn the controls as well as learn the basics of game.

 

The action itself is fluid – the games progress quickly and without many stoppages. The character interaction is awesome! Whenever a player hits or is hit, the action and reaction are authentic; if you hit someone from behind, the attacking player will “low-bridge” his opponent and the hit player will collapse over the leg. I was absolutely stunned with the detail of this system – it’s well designed and implemented. Also the game sports one of the best individual player AIs that I’ve seen in a while; players will try to get open, rebounds will be put back on net automatically (so you don’t have to do it yourself), and players will try to deflect point shots without your direct control.

 

nhl hitz pro          nhl hitz pro

 

Graphics are pretty good, but it just isn’t as graphically impressive as the competition – the players textures aren’t as smooth and the fans just repeat the same few actions. Although I will give ‘props to the designers for having visiting fans in the crowds (although I seriously doubt that 50-60 Red Wing fans would survive in the Bell Center for a game…). The music is good, it’s pretty much the standard fare for sporting events and the sound effects are authentic. So visually and aurally, a decent job.

 

To the detractions: the game doesn’t have very good opponent AI. Even at the higher difficulty levels, you should be able to rout the competition after a few games. The fighting system is a little annoying – the computer randomly selects one of the buttons for you to press repeatedly before your opponent can; if you win three races your opponent is knocked down. Kinda lame, but you can turn the fights off if you don’t like them.

 

All in all, NHL Hitz Pro is an awesome game that reminds me more of an updated version of a classic than something new, but that’s exactly what I was waiting for.

 

- Tazman

(January 21, 2004)

 

“Girls fall for that sensitive crap, so whatever you do, don't be yourself. Oops, gotta go pick up my bitch.”

            - Rocko (Undergrads)

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