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NHL Hitz 20-02 Package Art
†GENRE
††Sports
†DEVELOPER
††BlackBox
†PUBLISHER
††Midway
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1-4
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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NHL Hitz 20-02

After handling the incredible review workload of the N64 (one new review every four months) I donít know if our staff can handle the Cube review workload. Speaking of the N64, is this dťjŗ vu, folks? The early days of the N64 featured an arcade hockey title by Williams that was named after none other than the "Great One," Wayne "Hepburn" Gretzky. Gretzkyís title was originally designed by Williams, and it featured blazing speed, fast gameplay, and some over the top antics... "Heís like a brick wall in there." Well, Midwayís multiplatform arcade hockey title NHL Hitz 2002 follows in the same tradition of molar shaking action.

So what does this mean for you? Well, do you like your sports titles dumbed down? Donít have the patience to wait for the ketchup to come out of the bottle? Do you need instant gratification? Then this is a solid hockey title that you should look into. Personally, I had to have a hockey game, so this will do until the real muthaí of hockey rolls along from EA. Besides, itís a solid multiplayer title for when friends come by. Or when your girlfriend has the football team over while youíre at work. Think about that one...

visuals

Damn! The GameCube means business! If you line this version up against the PS2 one, the Cube is crispy and tasty, while the PS2 is flaccid and weak, like Clint Eastwoodís breasts in the great dramatic film "Every Which Way But Loose." Nice job.

If this is what a first generation sports title looks like, I am dying to see how detailed and unreal the graphics are going to be as the Cube grows up. Of course, Hitz has a major advantage, because there are less players on the ice, and, therefore, more polys and detail can be put on the players that are out there. Still, this is a fine looking title and a good indication of what the Cube can pop out.

The animation is silky smooth. Yet be warned: all of that fluff and fancy stuff gets tired, and then you're stuck with her when you're married and... errrr... What I mean to say is that the graphics work really well during the gameplay and come across as smooth as the reflection-mapped ice they take place on.

Additionally, there are some really nice lighting effects. When you catch fire, or blast a laser of a shot, youíll see some great lighting work. Nice!

Last, but worth mentioning, the front end menus are easy to navigate and are extremely intuitive.

audio

The sound effects are all that youíd expect in a bing-boom-bam game. Some of the commentators' comments are hilarious and always over the top. I love the inclusion of the rock tunes, including some Limp Bizkit. Midway has picked tunes that really suit the gameplay.

Yet one thing that really could have spiced up this game, and is certainly possible with the GCís disc format, is a truly interactive crowd. I didnít hear any heckling when a team was getting skunked. If thereís a game that fits this mold, itís arcade sports titles from Midway. I love the crowd interactions that are in the NBA series from Sega, and companies like Midway should take these into account.

gameplay

Just like its cousin "NFL Blitz," this title reduces the number of players on field and gets the action going at top speed. Hockey is the only game without a boundary. There aren't any lame time stoppages, so you can expect relentless, end-to-end action, a la the Oilers vs. Stars playoff series of the past few years.

Some of the other cool stuff is the thunderous, helmet jarring hits, and the dipsy doodle moves. Yet what isnít cool is how loose the goalies are.

As for actual control of the game, let's face it: the Cube controller could really use a new B button. Itís entirely too out of the way to pull off what Midway wants you to do (fake a shot by pressing Y and B simultaneously-- good luck). It would have been nice if the B button were another kidney shaped button next to the A button. Otherwise, youíll find that the Z button was intelligently avoided, and the turbo feels great as the shoulder button. Pass at will with the large-as-Mama-Cass 'A' button.

Oh yeah, and the fighting engine rivals DOA 3! Brilliant!

There are all kinds of game modes. My favourite is the mini games in the Skills Mode and the great Franchise Mode. Create a team of you and your friends, and build them up to win the Midway cup. Very satisfying stuff.

Incentives are numerous as you acquire cash to buy things like stadiums, heads, old jerseys, and more. Nice touch Midway; itís kept me coming back for more. But beware, just like Blitz, this game is for pick up and play purposes only. You may get bored of it after a while.

multiplayer

Sports titles are always great for four player action, and when theyíre this easy to get into, even the non-sports enthusiast can appreciate the high speed gaming action going on here. Youíll find four player action pleasurable and worthy of some scraps in the event that a goal is contested.

overall

This game definitely accomplishes what it set out to do. Itís basically Blitz on ice. Personally, I would much rather prefer something with a lot more depth, like the more sim-heavy NHL series. This game is great for a quickie, when youíre in the mood for this style of game, but if you want something that draws you to your controller day in and day out, then you need something with more depth. I just hope that EA sees the sales of this title, gets off their Vancouver butts and pumps out an NHL version for Cube, eh!

Regardless, NHL Hitz 20-02 is a real beauty for now, so if you need a fast hockey fix, this title will tide you over until the release of EA's NHL 2K2.

final score 8.3/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
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"Lost like tears in rain"


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