My PS2 NHL 2003 Review

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by NickC, Oct 6, 2002.

  1. NickC

    NickC Second Unit

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    NHL 2003 has been on store shelves for a few days now, some people may have this game, others may not, and some may be thinking about it. I have been a fan of the NHL Series since the first incarnation in 92. I still love playing those first three(92,93,94) they are often more fun to play then their most recent sequels. This year we see many updates to the game, some you may not notice at first, but they make the game much better, Infact I think this is the best hockey game I have ever played..It is the best hockey game I have ever played.. I love it. I first pick this game up thursday afternoon, played it and wasn't quite sure what to think, it looks like 2002, but plays differently, It was harder, more refined, and more precise, after spending many hour with the game, it grew on me, A Lot.

    My favortie additon is the newly customizable dekes, You can do this with the right analog stick and pressing it to shoot. I have been playing hockey for over 18 years now, and one thing I havent seen In a game is the ability to actually deke the goalie. This feature was first implemented last year by pressing the trianle button and going left or right with the d pad, but you couldnt really deke the goalie, it was more useful in open ice situations. It has now been revamped and works much better then last year, there is still room for improvement however, which I look forward to next year. be warned though, you will not master this in a game or two, you need to pratice, once you do get good at it, you will see there is nothing like pulling the puck across the creese and right in the top shelf as the goalie trys to stop it, very cool.

    Speaking of the goalies, wow, what a change. The react more lifelike then ever before, all new animations, desperation saves, the goalies are just a lot better then they were before and they look better to. The AI is now much more difficult. No more easy goals, no more walking through the whole team, and I am not talking about playing on easy. if you play the game on difficult you may find the game very challenging, at least I know I have. while playing a game with colorado versus the Wings I won 1-0 with a Deke by joe sakic with minutes to go in the third, I replayed the game and lost 2-1 the second game with shanahan dekeing Roy on a breakaway early in the Third. I have found it very hard to get more then 2/3 goals, maybe its how I play, but this year seems so much tighter then last year. You won't go walking around everyone with your dekes either, the computers D will steal and intercept the puck creating rushes the other way, and watching the computer walk in and deke your goalie to a goal just adds insult to injury.

    I love the gameplay in this game, its continues to grow to the hockey game I want to play. The only adjustment needed was the game speed, which I slide up to the second to the highest level.

    The fighting in the game is horrible. Its not the button masher it was last year, it is much slower, it really doesn't add anything and I find myself waiting to get back into the game. Soemthing that is cool now is that the computer won't fight you until you throw th first punch, so don't go lookign for a roughing penalty while the comp gets a fighting, its not going to happen.

    Another new addition is the Gamebreaker feature. Its a nice little addition, if it is to arcadey, turn it off. You gain points by perfroming dekes, and when you finally use it the game speed slows down a little allowing you more time to perform a deke or so on, it adds a little, but more likely then not I found myself not using it, if I did it was once or twice a game. The breakaway cam is in the game again and that can be turned of as well, I think it just gets anoying with some of the camera angles you get stuck with. The camera is another thing, you have action, which is real close, ice and classic, which basically look the same, I wish there was more of a gap between action and classic, the ice view is just to close to the classic view. I play with the action view because I like to be able to see where I am dekeing an so forth.

    The one spot where this game really falls short is in its extras(modes and so forth) The only modes of play are exhibiton, international, franchise, and playoffs. Why can't EA give the NHL series the same kind of attention the Madden series gets when it comes to extras. I know sega will be coming out with NHl 2K3 this year and it will probably have a full franchise mode and all other extras like all their games, I hope this competition motivates EA to add some modes, competition hasn't hurt the madden series. Where is the Shootout and Practice modes, no Mini camp? no preseason? no scouting rookies? 10 year max franchise, Madden has a 30 year max, whats up with that? Where are the classic teams? There are a few classic jerseys, but shouldn't they all be included, the Quebecc Away is in there, but not a sign of a North Stars jersey, I dunno why this is, maybe it has to do with liscensing, but EA needs to step up and give the same detail to the NHL series as its Madden series.

    The play by play is good, the color guy can get anoying, they can both be turned off for on ice sounds. You get mono, stereo, pro logic, or DTS sound, some decent EA tracks songs, Creat a player, Creat a teams, trades, player cards, Goal dances and all that stuff we have seen for years.

    In the end, the gameplay was the major rehaul this year. i love it, Much better then last year, the comp is comptetive at its highest setting and it is a fun game to play. No online is a bummer for those who are all about it, I am not a big fan, more of a head to head/person to person player, i like to look the enemy in the eye, not have him pause the game to try and get me to turn off my system so his ranking can go up....

    scores out of 10

    graphics 9/10
    nice animations, nothing to noticable over last year, still looks good.

    Gameplay 9.5/10
    the best version I have played so far. you need to spend some time with it, once you learn the dekes its a lotta fun even with the low scores..

    Sound 8/10
    Commentary is good, color guy is anoying, in game sounds are good, shots ring off the posts nicely. Nice EA tracks songs.

    Extras 5/10
    Exhibtion/Franchise/Playoff/International modes
    No mini camp, practice, or shootout modes. Some classic team jerseys missing, not getting the attention the madden series gets.

    presentation 7/10
    not as good as madden or NCAA for that matter, but it gets the job done.

    Lasting Appeal 9/10
    If you live and die hockey you may be playing this one until your fingers get blisters.

    Overall 9/10
    Would be a lot lower if I didnt love the gameplay so much for lack of extras and modes.

    let me know what everyone thinks about this game and the reveiw.
     
  2. Pete M

    Pete M Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review Nick - excellent work. I don't have the game yet, but am very excited to play it. Will get it in the next week or so. That is disapointing that the North Star jerseys are not included.
    (Not much time to play in the next few weeks because of the Twins World Series run!! [​IMG] )
     
  3. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    It seems every year, one or two of the old Jerseys disappears (for the teams that have moved that is).
    They finally figured out the roughing fight cheat, huh? [​IMG]
    One thing that NO hockey game has ever gotten right is powerplays. Let's face it, it's just as easy to score when short handed than even strength or even on a powerplay. At least up to and including 2002.
    I'm all over this new version. Thanks for your review. I thought it wasn't out till the end of the month. It's nice to have an anticipated release sneak up on you like that.
     
  4. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    Played 3 or 4 games this afternoon.

    Definitely further down the sim scale than 2002. Things like the speed burst have been toned down to something far more realistic. Also, the body checks are less arcadey.

    You're right about the goalie animations. I stepped over the blue line and let a booming slapshot go, the goalie stopped it, but looked behind him, not sure if the puck had gotten past him. Lots of little things like that.

    Graphically, the game is a little better. I like the way the players "loom," size-wise when they come into the near end of the ice, towards the glass. The net in the near end looks larger too. More photorealistic.

    The puck also "dribbles" more naturally, like when the goalie gets a piece of the save, and it squirts past him.

    My FAVOURITE new feature though is the fact that the last minute of the game is played in REAL time, even on 5 minute period setting. In old versions, by the time you heard the last minute announcement, you could barely skate the length of the ice before time ran out. Nice addition.

    Sadly, the rink announcer still makes stupid "jokes" after play stoppages. I wouldn't miss that if they took it out.

    I wish they would add the ability to break your stick to the game.

    It's gonna take some getting used to (just like 2002 did), but I'm impressed so far.
     
  5. Willy burz

    Willy burz Stunt Coordinator

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    I personally hated it and sold it within 4 days.
    I really loved all the NHL series and couldn't wait to pick up the new one. BUT to my dismay it's too arcadey, nothing but fast breaks, with your own defenders defending nothing leaving open shot after open shot on goal. Basically the only way to play d is check every cpu controlled player to death and that doesn't even work.
    I played with the sliders to no end and the game still plays like a fast break without D and the scores are way, I mean way too high. the fighting sucks and their are like 3 cutscenes and you see them about 300 times over and over, did I say the fighting looks like two robots going at it!? The ONLY sports games EA is keeping me attached to is NCAA 2003 Football and the Madden series... the rest can go to hell!
    I wanted to love this game, I truly did!!!! and it just plain sucks, I will bet my money on NHL 2k3 from Sega. I'm now going to get NBA 2k3 until NHL 2k3 comes out.
    BOTTOME LINE- If you want anything near simulation real life hockey... STAY THE HECK AWAY FROM THIS GAME [​IMG]
     
  6. NickC

    NickC Second Unit

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    Hockey is a transition game, meaning lots of fast breaks and odd man rushes, no doubt segas game will be similar in this respect.. the previous versions were...I am betting that sega will have a much better franchise mode and some more gameply modes... Doesn't look like NHL 2K3 will have dekeing [​IMG]
    No Hartford Whalers jersey either, I think Vancouver has all their jerseys...
     
  7. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    Rule #1 in a sports game
    if you cannot get the cameras right, no reason to go any further
    The 'action' view (default) is way too close in this game so much so it is imposible to set up any plays the proper way.
    The 'ice' view is too far away to take advantage of this game being on a next generation system.
    The other views are and always have been worthless
    Any of the gameplay improvements (and there are some) can not be compensated by the lack of a proper view.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. NickC

    NickC Second Unit

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    I have no problem setting up plays in either mode...
     
  9. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    If you are having no problems setting up plays in the default (action) mode then you are either not passing to anyone more than a couple inches from the puck carrier or you are making blind passes.

    I don't know how this point can be argued
     
  10. Willy burz

    Willy burz Stunt Coordinator

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    What are you talking about Nick?!!?!?!?!

    Yes there is transition in Hockey but not at the stupid pace of NHL 2003, defensemen are not caught up ice 95% of the time in real life, defensemen actually play a man or an area near the opponent, they don't in NHL 2003. It is nowhere near simulation, it is far from it. It's nothing but a scorefest with no defense, and it's a joke.

    I've played some, watched and followed hockey all my life and this game is nowhere near simulation hockey. They should have just called it NHL Hitz and sold it as that!
     
  11. NickC

    NickC Second Unit

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    Are you playing the game on the Difflicult level? the majority of the games I have played on the most difficult level are 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, how is that a "scorefest"? I never said it was simulation either, but it is in no way a complete arcade game, it has a little of both..

    While playing with the ice camera I can easily set up plays, the action camera is a little more difficult, but as long as I know which offence I am in I can pass the puck around. I would think it is obvious if I am on the left or center, someone would be to my right to pass too, kinda common sence positional wise in hockey.

    It's not my fault you guys don't like the game, I love it
     
  12. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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  13. Graeme Clark

    Graeme Clark Cinematographer

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  14. NickC

    NickC Second Unit

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    Both views are very playable on the ps2, I am going to agree with you that there should be another view inbetween ice and action, I said that in my review, but the fact that there isn't doesn't make it any less playable. NHL 2003 does have its problems, but it is in no way a bad game, its fun to play, and thats what is going to keep me coming back for more..

    A player won't get benched for making a blind pass, sometimes you have to make a blind pass in hockey, the game is very fast, its when you make a blind pass and create a bad turnover that you will get benched, especially in your own zone...

    Watching hockey on TV makes the game look so slow because the cameras are to far away, if you sit lower level at games it is much faster..and even faster on the ice..
     
  15. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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  16. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    Graeme,
    I am playing on PS2

    Nick,
    I am not trying to change your mind and there is no doubt I can't anyway. The 'action' cam in NHL2003 is too close and it is not possible to properly see the players you should be able to see down or cross ice. 'Ice' cam is far enough away that it serves me no purpose to purchase a game for the PS2 system when I am getting PS1 graphics.

    Had they left the default camera as it was in NHL2002 I would have time to state some of the very good improvements in this game as well as some of the other drawbacks.
     

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