Review: NHL 06 (Xbox)

Posted in Reviews,Sports,Xbox by Shawn Wallace on 6 2005f October 2005

Out of all the professional sports, in the United States hockey has always been behind baseball, football and basketball. But after the NHL got its punishment for being greedy by being grounded for 16 months, they’re looking to attract more fans and make the game more enjoyable for the casual hockey watcher. New rules, such as no more games ending in ties, but instead shootouts, is just one of the few things that the NHL is doing to make the game more attractive. So to go along with all the new excitement about hockey and the NHL, EA Sports has added a plethora of new things to its NHL 06 franchise.

The biggest additions to the game are in the gameplay with most noticeable being the skill stick. On different teams there are different superstars ( they have stars under them when you’re controlling them) and by using your right analog stick you can pull of some impressive moves while making your way to the goal. You can spin around, shoot between your legs, and do various highlight reel moves when taking a shot. But while stars like Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg will pull of some amazing moves, lower tiered players will likely lose control of the puck or easily get it stolen from them when they try to pull of the same move.

Next is targeting. Making goals has never been easier… well maybe. With the new targeting system, as you near you opponent’s goal and press and hold the slap shot button, a target icon appears in the net. Using your left analog stick you can move the target to an open area of the net, and take your shot. Well, maybe. Being that the game is so fast-paced, this targeting thing that you can do, you have to do it pretty quick. By the time you realize there’s a target icon in the net and you start trying to move it to an open space, the other team may have already have the puck and already half down to the other end of the ice, all before you can even take a shot. The best time to use this option is when you’re on a breakaway, or if it’s just a one-on-one thing, but trying to use it when you have three or four people swarming you trying to get the puck proves difficult.

In hockey deking is like dribbling a basketball or soccer ball. The player moves down the ice using his stick to control the puck, moving it from side to side. Although it’s not really an addition, more a retooling, deking has moved to the left analog stick making it easier for you to control the puck and get past defenders and fool goalies like you were about to take a shot. This also makes the game move faster and flow more fluidly like a real hockey game.

Although the basic modes like Exhibition, Season, and Tournament are back, Dynasty Mode might be grabbing the most attention. First off, the NHL All-Star Game has been added to Dynasty mode where you can play either East vs. West or North America vs. The World. Even if you’re simulating the entire season, it still gives you the option to play. Speaking of simulation, Dynasty Mode also has a new Sim Intervention feature where you can actually interrupt a simulated game and take control. The harder the game the more money you can earn. Dynasty Mode now also offers the option of giving the assistant coach more control. By setting the option to ON or Minimal, you assistant coach can take over a majority if duties such as filling out lines or just a little bit like making substitutions. This is the mode for the hardcore gamer.

There wasn’t any major change in graphics but there a lot of little things some fans may notice. At the beginning of game, you’ll notice how smooth and slick the ice looks, but by he beginning of the third period you’ll notice how the past periods have been with skate marks just devouring the surface. The animations look good as well, especially with the skill stick and the goalie looks great has he dives for saves all the time. The players’ faces show different emotions during the game as well, unlike NBA Live 06, where players’ faces are pasted on, in NHL 06 you can see scowls, smiles and screams of joy.

The sound reeks of EA Trax and no custom soundtrack availability, which isn’t a good thing. I guess you can get used to it though. The announcing is fair, nothing groundbreaking, but it funny how the announcers get excited for one of your shots after the other team has already recovered the rebound is half down the ice to the other end.

All in All, NHL 06 is a fun game with cool gameplay and graphics that has options to bring the NHL game to life. There are hardly any disappointments here.

Verdict: BUY IT!



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