NHL Hitz 20-03

Review

posted 11/7/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Midway had a surprise hit on their hands last year when they decided to move into the NHL realm. Utilizing the same gameplay that made NFL Blitz such a hit, they injected a heavy dose of attitude into the coolest game on earth. Thus begat NHL Hitz, perhaps the most surprising hit of 2001 and one of the best sports games of the year. This year has spawned a second iteration into the series that successfully transfers the best elements of the game of hockey and intensifies them to the 10th power.

For the uninitiated, Hitz takes most of the rules of Hockey and throws them out the window. Forget about roughing penalties because as far as Midway is concerned, they don’t exist. The only time you’ll be relegated to the sin bin is after a fight or if you decide to take out your aggressions on the opposing goalie. This game abandons the intricacies of the sport and decides to focus on the more appealing aspects, meaning that goal scoring and bone-crunching hits are the order of the day here. Forget about line changes and icing because this is pure 3-on-3 hockey, just like you used to play as a kid, except a little less violent, unless you grew up in the ghetto (there’s no drive-by shooting bullet dodge mode, maybe next year).

Players complained and Midway listened, this year’s game features an all-new franchise mode that is surprisingly deep. The exhibition mode still remains the main attraction; up to six players can go toe-to-toe in a 3 period battle for supremacy. The season mode allows you to play through an entire NHL season although there is an option to play through a shortened season. Also new to this year’s game is a host of new mini-games that are simple and fun to play. There’s a lot more depth to this year’s game and that equates to much more value and longevity.

The franchise mode is without a doubt the nicest addition to this year’s game. In it, you start a team from scratch and progress through the world ranks. Each level is composed of four made-up teams from various parts of the world. When you defeat those teams you can play against a sort of boss team that is superior to your team. You’ll have to assemble your own team and build up their talents and abilities. You’ll be able to name them, pick their hometown, name each individual player, pick a logo and even pick their hot spot on the ice. Experience is earned by accomplishing easy goals like accumulating 25 shots in a game or by performing 5 successful dekes and of course, by winning matches. As you defeat more and more teams you’ll earn official NHL gear that you can outfit your team with. They each yield special bonuses that help enhance their attributes. As you beat more and more teams players will hear about your accomplishments and ask to join your team.
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