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Published by:
Electronic Arts

Game Genre:
Sports Simulation

Game Cheats:
Are Available

Requirements:
Pentium 166, 16 Megs RAM, 4X CD-ROM
16-bit Sound Board, Mouse, & DirectX 6

Retail Price:
$39.95
Our Ratings:
Features

Graphics

Sound FX

Gameplay

Overall

Screenshots:
NHL 2000


Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
So the time has come for yet another NHL game from EA-Sports and as the excitement in all the fans build up, to get their hands on this year's edition of the NHL series. But now it was time to take on this year's NHL game and what it had to offer.

Features:
The game finally started and of course as every year a new design of the menu presented itself. This year the dark blue like menu was replaced with a more bright and colorful console like looking menu, a new cool design. It's nice that the former separate rules and options buttons were melted into one button where all you have to do is to switch between the different settings tabs to change things.

The configure control section has also improved where the unnecessary advanced configure menu is removed. In this menu you'll also find the player and goalie boost slider which is a good feature when you meet a less skilled player and you want to give him/her some advantage. It makes the players and goalies behave above their stats which makes the game play very fast. This option can be turned off in the rules options menu when you are playing a match, which is called speed burst.

When the speed burst is on the player and goalie boost is active. When it's off, you don't have a turbo button any more and the gameplay becomes more slow and more realistic. Conclusively the menus of this year's game seem to be easy to use as usual, but perhaps even a little bit easier.

One other feature that cannot go unsaid is "Put your Face in on a Player" This feature blew my mind. After realizing what this meant, I went to buy a digital camera. With an internal program, you can take a jpeg of your mug, and mask it to your created player. Cool, huh? Add that to a free multiplayer service.

Gameplay:
Since I'm a seasoned veteran I started my game at Pro level and this way I could see the AI's near full potential. At first impression I noticed that the game was significantly faster than last year and that the puck physics were enhanced to the better. No more one lap around the rink puck when you hit a hard slap shot and it went rocket speed round the boards, the puck also bounces better from the plexiglass as well as if you hit the post or bar or if you just dump the puck downfield.

The faster gameplay feels good if you want a more arcade like gameplay but if you want a more realistic gameplay then you should turn off the speed burst option as mentioned above. Although when playing fast, it still takes some time before you skate from your defensive blue to the opponents.

One thing that could be the problem is -- as usual the shots on goal stats. Since the demo game had five minute periods, the shot stats were realistic. But having 20 minute periods the game speed could again lead to unrealistic shots on goal stats. Even when you don't have speed burst on, it seems like to many shots on goal can be made but we'll have to wait and see how this will be when the full version arrives next week. Speaking of period times a nice improvement is that no matter how many real-time minutes you want a period to be it still is 20 game minutes which is great considering that so far when you played 5 minute periods and someone got a 2 or 4 minute penalty it lead to that that player was out for almost the rest of a period which was very frustrating so now your player is on your roster again after 2 game minutes.

As for the AI I must say that I'm amazed of what I've experienced so far. The goalies are not super human anymore and if you pass from one side to another and then shoot the goalie doesn't have a chance they are also more active now on the field and the are not glued to their crease anymore, instead the go out a bit on the field to cover up the angles and the follow the game well behind the goal.

The goalies still make some amazing super saves but otherwise the game would turn into an unrealistic goal fest. The computer is good in defense and it closes up fast in front of you almost forcing you to pass unless you want your player flat on his back after a tackle. Also if you got a player in front of the cpu teams goal the cpu will make that players life a living hell by pushing and hooking him. Plus they cover that player so it will be harder for you to pass in front of the goal.

When the cpu is in power play it plays good and makes intelligent passes and it waits you out until you eventually lose cover on one of their players also when the cpu is shorthanded it gives you rough time by covering up well. You can now score in more ways as promised and I even scored from the blue line but already I think I'm on to a way to score a lot. I have not been in a fight yet so I can't review that part I'm afraid. I like what I've seen AI wise in this game so far, it really has improved and this year it might even be a challenge at Pro level.

Graphics:
I was now set to play my first game the resolution was set to 1024x768 and I would play with the other details while I was playing. The match presentation showed both teams logos and names in big letters as usual also EA-Sports has replaced the dark 3D video sequences of the arenas and replaced it with real pictures instead which is in my opinion much nicer.

Then the game started and I can only say one thing about the graphics in this game...MIND NUMBING!!! It was incredible the lights at the stadium were out and the only light was the spotlight around the players as the national anthem played. The camera then zoomed in on the players and you could see the light reflect of their helmets and the stadium roof was filled with speakers and jerseys and all this happened in the first 20 seconds of game and I was already blown away.

The more I played the more neat things I saw, like how the players argued with the referee and you could see their mouths moving. If you are good lip reader then you will notice that they don't just flap their mouths but that the players say real words like "come on ref", which you can hear them say.

The faces are a great improvement compared to the last game, now you can see the actual wrinkles on the player faces and when the game sometimes shows a players photo and face at the same time you'll notice that the resemblance is marvelously big. The players are even more detailed you can see that on the goalies the mostly when you look at their gloves and pads.

The audience now moves when set to max detail but that slowed down the performance of the game a lot. You can now see the goal judges sitting in a booth behind their respective goals. In the penalty booth you can even see the lock on the boards part that opens. At the bench are a lot more movement from the other players who now react when a team mate gets a penalty or when the team scores which ads even more to the realism, now players celebrate the goals in a better ways as well, they do high fives and the clap the goal scorer's but as well.

The ice sprays are now more frequent then in the last game and it disappears faster. I could mention many more fantastic graphical details but you'll just have to see it for yourselves, but one last detail that I have to mention is my absolute favorite and that's when the camera zooms in on a players face and you could see how the player moves his mouth like he was chewing on a gum...FANTASTIC!!!

EA-Sports have not made any major graphical improvements but it's all those little details that they have added that just makes this game even more fun to play, the players are talking, reacting and chewing gums, little details which makes the game more realistic.

Sound FX:
The NHL series have always had great music in it and no exceptions this time either and the full version probably will offer even more in game and front-end music. As for the commentary it gets a little better each year and it gets closer to the TV feel. The commentary has been slightly improved in the way of one new voice. Again the commentary fails in certain areas, as you will hear repeated statements. And on top of that you may want to turn off Auto-Replay, unless you really like to hear the same things over and over. The audience follows the game with chants and rants. Some of which will make you feel like dog poo when you're getting beat.

Overall:
I must say that I still don't get much sleep cause this game is really good. I enjoy starting my career mode and trade players like crazy and fighting for that Stanley Cup trophy with my favorite team, cause this year NHL2000 is more enjoyable than any other of the NHL games. Of course no game is perfect but this year and judging by my current playing time NHL2000 seems to be closer to perfection than any other of it's predecessors.


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