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Forum LockedFirst Impressions: ESPN NHL 2K5 (PS2)

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JasonSGN View Drop Down
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Joined: 01-25-2006
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    Posted: 01-25-2006 at 8:54pm
ESPN NHL 2K5 PS2I won't pretend to know the intricacies of hockey since my real-life hockey experiences consisted of roller hockey on the street with garbage cans as goals (hockey was not that popular in the Bronx - probably due to the lack of ice rinks). But, I have been playing hockey video games since 'Hockey' on the Atari 2600 and ESPN NHL 2K5 is the most fun I've had with a hockey game since EA's NHL 98.

I skipped ESPN NHL 2K4 because of the negative feedback about the game (mainly the super goalies) and gave EA's much-improved NHL 2004 a shot last year. While I enjoyed EA's game, I never felt that the player's skating physics felt right - I just never got the sense that the players were gliding on ice. Fortunately, ESPN NHL 2K5 feels "just right". I feel like my players are skating on ice and have the ability, with sliders, to adjust the 'Ice Friction' for the puck and players. I actually bumped the player and puck friction down a few notches to give the game a "looser" feel. It's great to have this as an option as everyone will have different prefences to player control.

One of my favorite things about this game is the ability to play the style of hockey you enjoy by adjusting the numerous slider settings. ESPN can play an arcade-style, fast-paced hockey game with lots of scoring, a sim-style hockey game where strategy really comes into play or a combination of both - the choice is yours. This is perfect for someone like myself who doesn't like the 'over-the-top' style of NHL Blitz, but at the same time doesn't know all the finer aspects of hockey strategy.

ESPN also offers three control schemes: Classic, Intermediate and Advanced. The 'Classic' control scheme closely resembles the basic control schemes from earlier-generation hockey games. The 'Intermediate' control scheme builds on top of the classic scheme by offering modifiers, which are extra moves available by holding down a modifier button (L1 on the PS2). The 'Advanced' control scheme adds even more moves to your offensive and defensive arsenal. While the toughest to learn, the 'Advanced' control scheme is the only way to fully take advantage of the game.

While I can't compare the graphics to last year's version, they are a nice upgrade from NHL 2K3 and compare well to NHL 2004. There are plenty of nice animations and everything runs very smoothy. The added cut scenes do a good job of giving the game an ESPN broadcast-quality presentation. The crowds are 3D and the arenas are fairly detailed. The play-by-play commentary seems to be pretty good and the crowds react well to the action on the ice.

Priced at $19.99, it's really hard not to recommend this game to anyone with even the slightest interest in hockey. Most of the biggest complaints from last year, mainly the super goalies and the limited ways of scoring, have been addressed and the AI has been beefed-up as well. Unless a major flaw is discovered, this may be the hockey game to own this year.

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