Friday, May 06, 2005

God of W....err, NHL '06 (err '05)

Two days after EA dropped the Michigan bomb on me with NCAA Football 2006, they took baby-steps towards getting back on my good side with the announcement of Tampa Bay C Vincent LeCavalier as their coverman for NHL '06.

Story Link

First know - I'm an EA fanboy. I live and die with each installment of the sports that entertain me, and even then I occasionally latch onto NBA titles that I think are fun to play. I never picked up NHL 2K3 due to a long battle with the MMO scene (damn EQ), and then as that would have it I never continued buying the franchise all the way up to now when EA sends me their sports games for free (even though 2K5 is $20...hey, I might go pick that up now!). I guess I'm just insanely ignorant to the apparent glaring fact that Sega is winning the "Puck Wars" with EA at this time.

I personally thought NHL '05 was a lot of fun. Fir.. - well, Second know - I'm a stick skills type of guy. You know the type - dude is crazy sick at Madden, but couldn't tell you the first freakin' thing about a gameplan. They play the 4-4 Mad Robber defense in NCAA and use the FS to bat down every lob pass that goes up with supreme video game ability - well, I'm kind of a hybrid. I have really good player control, and on games like NCAA Football and MVP Baseball I have the knowledge to combine with the stick skills to be elite. On NHL however, the tutorials about offense and defense is usually helpful info - whereas Herbstreit explaining the option to me is like my boss trying to teach me that 7 comes after 6 numerically, it's ridiculous.

Third know (staying with theme here), I'm not a hockey idiot, but any maple-syrup drinking Canadian could take me to task with gameplans - so I kind of compete at a slightly above average level because of being able to skate around people and make them look bad thru my game control. That said, NHL '05 really just kinda sucks - I mean, the defense is ridiculous. Setting up an offense is insanely hard - forwards don't enter the zone until a few seconds after you carry the puck in, and by then the defense has already ran at you 100 mph and knocked your ass down. You can succeed in this game by simply firing slapshot after slapshot because you're bound to get 3 or 4 by the goalie without a lot of offensive skill - and all this is done by weaving through the neutral zone and firing a shot off before anyone's remotely close to rebound.

The season features suck because there's no alternative - if you get a team like the Blackhawks and the objective is to rebuild, not meeting the objective in 2 years will get you fired.

"You won the Western Conference you say? Tough shit, you didn't get us the #1 draft pick...see ya. "

If I want to get on and run a dynasty with the Bluejackets I have to meet whatever the game-made objectives are - it's just pretty cheesey. Offseason mode is attrocious - a draft pops up, and right after that you go into free agency. If you have the money you can ideally buy every free agent you want, because entertaining offers from other teams is clearly not a negotiating factor of AI-controlled free agents. If you give more money, they're yours. It's basically just a rushed product put out to get a market share - it's just not exciting enough to curb my enthusiasm for hockey without the excitement of it being played on television.

Well, here I am walking thru the halls of work imagining myself as Kratos, slashing my way to the God of War - and somehow I end up coming on here and ranting about how pissed I was back in August '04 when I was playing EA's latest hockey game. Oh well. My younger brother called me the other day saying he had the game and had finished it, and I finally got around to snatch it up last night. All I can say right now is that my nipples are still glass-cuttingly hard from the 2 hours I got to spend with it last night.


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