Game Review: NHL 2002

Geek specs:

Title: NHL 2002
Platform: PC
Genre: Sports
Developer: EA Sports
Publisher: EA Sports
Release: September 18, 2001

Minimum System Requirements:
Windows ME/2000/98/95
300Mhz Intel Pentium 2 or AMD K6-2 Processor
4x CD/ DVD-Rom drive
100 MB Free Hard Disk space
16 MB Video Card
DirectX 8.0

Introduction: NHL 2002 is the next installment in the long running NHL series from EA sports. NHL 2002 is very similar to NHL 2001, but the game includes tons of new features and new gameplay elements which makes this game possibly the best in the series.

Review: NHL 2002 is an easy game to just jump right into. The controls are amazingly simple, allowing you to use either a keyboard or a controller if you wish to. The game includes all the NHL teams, East and West teams, and nearly all countries that can compete in the Olympics. This game is packed with tons of players and teams.

Once you start the game you'll be shown a nicely done introduction to the game that shows both team's goalies and players with the nice light show that most Arena's have these days. Once the game begins you are introduced to the games commentary. This is one of the lowest points of the game. The commentary is done by Jim Hughson and Don Taylor. Jim Hughson does good play-by-play commentary, but Don Taylor constantly cracks stupid, repetitive, and annoying jokes. You really wonder what EA was going for with this guy. Thankfully, this option can be turned off.

The gameplay is very well designed. It plays with the same controls as past installments, but this year there are a few new extras. There is a new manual deke option which lets you switch to the backhand whenever you want. Although this feature is a nice new addition, work still needs to be done. Dekeing may seem fun at first, but the goalie won't be faked out by the deke and scoring with one is difficult. The game contains many new animations, but some can be hard to notice. The players may sometimes reach up to grab an airborne puck, perform saucer passes, and will kick bad passes to their stick. All of these do effect gameplay, as a bad pass to setup a perfect one-timer will allow the goalie to catch up to the puck. The AI has been well programmed to allow a more competitive play and the AI can be very challenging if set on Difficult. A 3-0 game can turn completely around in the third period if you let down on defense.

The graphics of NHL 2002 are some of the best out there. Most veteran player's faces are recognizable and match their pictures in the game. The players jerseys are smooth and contain all of the detail. The front couple rows of the fans are now 3D animated, and new non-playable movies are very realistic. If the puck is shot out of play it may show a fan holding it in his hand after a lucky catch like on most broadcasted games. The intros to the games have great ice lighting effects and show players authentically warming up their goalies with a heap load of shots and just skating around the ice. NHL 2002 has new camera features; the hit cam, save cam, and breakaway cam. The new Breakaway came cuts to only the player and the goalie, with a well suited heartbeat noise to add to the adrenaline factor. The Hit cam shows big hits from multiple angles, and Save cam shows big saves from different angles. All these may be appealing at first, they start to slow down and interrupt gameplay, but like most extras, they can be disabled.

NHL 2002 now has a franchise mode which can go up to 8 seasons with player retirements and NHL drafts. The long awaited NHL cards which have been in the Madden series multiple times are now present with cards for players from all teams with some extra things that can be earned. Points for these cards are won by performing certain tasks during the game like scoring the first goal, getting a shutout, etc. These can only be done once, so completing a full deck of cards can be challenging. NHL 2002 also features a tournament mode, you skip the season and jump right to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and a shootout mode to practice those breakaways. NHL 2002 has tons of features.

Conclusion: NHL 2002 is one of the funnest hockey games out. It has lots of features, great gameplay, and awesome graphics. Although the commentary gets old and annoying fast, turning it off makes it sound like your in the stands with authentic Arena noises. NHL 2002 may have some flaws, but most of them can be avoided. NHL 2002 is a game any hockey fan should check out.

Ratings: (scale of 0.0 - 5.0)

Gameplay: 4.5 Graphics: 5.0
The gameplay in NHL 2002 is one of the funnest in a hockey game I've played. With a simple control scheme that is easy to use and an AI that is a blast to play against. You can also connect online and play with seven other people in a massive game. The graphics are some of the best in sports, rivaling those of the popular Madden games, and with a powerful enough graphics card, some of the smallest details are present. The player details are high quality with recognizable faces and great Jersey detail.

Sound: 3.0 Overall: 4.0
The commentary is horrible, but, if it is disabled, the game makes you feel like your in an arena with what sounds like thousands of people talking and when a goal is scored it is accompanied by the screeching of the siren with the explosion of cheers, or the dreadful booing when the home team is down. NHL is one of the best hockey series to date. With it's fun gameplay and awesome graphics, it keeps you coming for more. With it's lengthy franchise mode, NHL cards, and online play, this game could keep you playing even after the 2003 installment hits shelves. At it's current bargain price, this is one you shouldn't pass up, even if you only have a slight interest in hockey.

Written by Ducci


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