I sometimes think the very worst thing to write about is something that’s middle of the road. If something’s great, you can enthuse about how and why it’s great. You can chalk up hundreds of words gushing about how much you love it and about how you’d not only bring it home to meet your parents, but you’d also bend over and let it have you then and there while your parents look on and applaud.
Likewise, if the game is terrible, then you can spend hours tearing the poor thing apart demanding that all those who worked on it be forced to listen to the Greatest Hits of Celine Dion continuously in a confined place so they at least feel a small sample of the pain you felt by soldiering through their awful excuse for a video game.
I think that sums us up as a species really. It’s far easier for us to spend hours cooing like inebriated toddlers over something we love or ripping out every single strand of hair we have over something that angerises us up just right. But when it comes to something that lives closer to the middle of the spectrum, we find it harder to get invested. That’s certainly how I felt while playing NHL 2K on the SEGA Dreamcast.
I’ve always enjoyed watching ice hockey. If I lived in Canada, I think I’d have it on in the background pretty much non-stop. Unfortunately, due to being English and residing within Britain’s increasingly claustrophobic walls, I can only watch hockey by staying up late at night and watching it on Premier Sports, a channel which is a distant third to both SKY Sports and BT Sports, which means I normally don’t get round to it. The fact that Premier Sports cut out all the pre and post-match stuff, meaning I don’t get to see the Canucks coming out to U2, only gives me more reasons to swerve the whole thing.
I think the sport itself is incredible though. It’s rare that you find something which combines both skill and brutality in such an effective and entertaining way. Because make no mistake, you need to be skilled to play ice hockey and play it well. My one attempt at ice skating many moons ago ended in numerous embarrassing falls onto my generous posterior while my erstwhile date tried to avoid breaking into a fit of laughter (it was her idea to go, btw).
So, to think that not only do you have to skate but also hit a diminutive “puck” with a stick that could shatter at a moment’s notice while also having to keep an eye out that some meaty Serbian bloke doesn’t crush you against the dasher boards, it should give anyone a healthy respect for what the stars of the NHL do on the ice on a near nightly basis.
NHL 2K does a respectable job of recreating the hockey action fans will be familiar with. The graphics, though not as smooth and detailed as a modern eye would expect, still look good for a game that first came out in 2000, and the gameplay itself is well imagined and easy to get into. The difficulty curve is weighted well, with differing levels that allow you to find the right difficulty for you.
It’s an imminently playable game that does everything to a decent standard, but just lacks that extra special something that makes it anything more than just quite good. There are options to play a full season, there’s a mode that will let you skip straight to the play offs, and there’s also an Exhibition mode that lets you get onto the ice with your friends for some instant hockey thrills.
And that’s your lot really. There are no international sides like there are on the current NHL releases, and the game feels a little light on features. The game day experience is created well with epilepsy inducing light shows before players stand to attention for the national anthem prior to the puck drop. Full commentary is also provided by Bob Cole and Harry Neale, but it’s not really to the standard that you’d expect from video game sports commentary these days.
Ultimately, I think NHL 2K suffers in that, when compared to modern sports titles, it just feels sparse when it comes to options. The bread and butter of the actual gameplay is good, but there’s just very little sizzle to go along with the steak.
If you’re into ice hockey and have fond memories of this time period, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you’re more of a casual hockey enthusiast, you might be better served to swerve this and go for one of the better developed games from the seventh gen.
Join me next week where I’ll be returning to the football pitch for a game that really caught my attention and caught it hard about a decade ago!
As always, I’ll post some game footage below.
Thanks for reading
Until next time;
Come On You Blues!!!
You can view YouTube Footage of the game, courtesy of John GodGames, by clicking right HERE
Looking for other great content here on the site? Well, why not take a goosey gander at the following?
You can read James’ most recent edition of “Hacked Off” by clicking right HERE
And you can read Kjell’s review of the Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum by clicking right HERE