NHL 2K3 (PS2)

Review

posted 12/1/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
This year at the Olympics the Canadians showed the world why they should never take pity upon them. It’s been forever and a day since the Winter Olympics and yet they still continue to brag about how excellent their hockey team is. See Canada? See why we never throw you a bone? Because you never know when to shut up and be thankful. If Canada needs a lesson on to be humble about their success than they should look no further than Sega Sports and their consistently excellent Sports lineup. The reigning champions of sports games just continues to deliver quality title after quality title and all the while, handling their success in a very modest manner, a true sign of a champion.

Carrying the torch that was built by NFL2K and ignited by NBA2K, NHL 2K3 successfully continues the company’s tradition of producing quality titles. 2K3 plays just as you would hope and expect a high quality title to play, it’s fast, it’s furious and best of all, it’s realistic. Realistic and entertaining? You may think that’s impossible but if that’s your train of thought, you obviously haven’t played a Sega Sports title.

Last year’s game was an excellent hockey game that went heavily unappreciated mainly due to the small exposure that it received on the now defunct Dreamcast. Now the series has been brought over to a highly visible platform and has been given some room to shine and boy, is it ever so bright.

Powered by ESPN, this year’s game takes hockey games to a whole new level with tight gameplay and some impressive innovations. You’ll have all sorts of strategies and moves at your disposal in your quest to ignite the twine. You’ll be able to deke, saucer pass and dump your way into the opponent’s zone. Basically everything that you see in real life has been beautifully recreated here. There’s even an excellent board game where you can actually pin your opponents against the boards as you fight to move the puck out of the corner. I’ve always wished that someone would finally create a realistic game along the boards, this is the culmination of my wishes.

Like the other Sega Sports franchises you’ll have your usual assortment of modes. This means exhibition, season, playoffs, franchise and tournament play. All of the modes function just as you would expect, exhibition allows you to pit two teams against each other, season allows you to play a full season, playoffs is for those who are impatient and want to get to the cup and franchise allows you to play for multiple seasons. As with the other Sega games, you can also participate in the Sega Sports Challenge.

If you’re a fan who enjoys pure and unadulterated hockey then you’ll want to jump right into the franchise mode. You’ll be able to take full control of your favorite team, signing players, honoring contracts and managing the team as you please. I found this mode to be the most enjoyable as I transformed my Los Angeles Kings into Stanley Cup Champions. I made a few trades, throwing Heinz and Smolinski to the Rangers in return for Bure; I was able to build a powerful offensive juggernaut.
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