Sega Sports ESPN NHL2K4 for PS2 and XBox
ESPN NHL Hockey Hands-on
Can a game on ice get any hotter?
August 06, 2003 - Like many gamers growing up, I learned about hockey through videogames. Before EA's NHL series, I couldn't tell you the difference between the Minnesota North Stars and the Fist of the North Star. But within a few years I knew the names of all my favorite goons in the game and like everybody else from the "Swingers" era, played every minute trying to hit Gretzky so I could make his little head bleed. After a while, though, I pretty much lost interest in the NHL and the NHL videogames as none of the next-generation titles seemed to carry that spark of the original series. That is, until Sega released NHL 2K3 last year, and I was reunited with players like Jeremy Roenick and Patrick Roy, as well as being introduced to a new cast of characters like Satan (the man needs to be traded to New Jersey!), Adam Oates, and John Madden (the Devil, not the announcer).
Now it's a new year, and not only does the game have a new name, it has some exciting new features to add even more thrills to the NHL experience. Since the first thing you see when you turn on the game are the graphics, I'll start right there with the all new graphics engine that has been incorporated into the game. From little things like ice spraying up from the bottom of the skates during a quick stop to cut scenes of fans waving towels and pounding thunder sticks, if you've seen it happen in an NHL arena, chances are, you're going to see it in ESPN NHL Hockey. There are four levels of player celebrations after goals now, as you might see a simple pat on the back after a first-period score, but witness your teammates going wild and throwing their sticks into the air after smashing a game-winner. Other new animations include fans banging on the penalty box as the visiting player sits in frustration and tempers flaring before face-offs as players push each other out of position. Visual Concepts has even added Stanley Cup-specific celebrations for gamers lucky enough to win the championship, including players skating around the ice holding the cup and the team piling on top of one another on center ice as the crowd goes crazy. Best of all though, are the new player animations that will show players smiling after a goal, frowning after a miss, and even show guys like Theoren Fleury without their front teeth. That's right, if a player is missing teeth in real life, he'll be missing those exact teeth in the game. The level of detail is insane.
More screenshots and streaming video:
http://mediaviewer.i...a... NHL Hockey
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