Friday, September 26, 2003

NHL 2004 for Playstation 2 Released

Knowing that the NHL 2004 from EA Sports came out yesterday, I ran to my nearest "Mart" and got a copy. I've been buying the EA Sports series since I've had my PS one.
I love the way that they have really updated the NHL series game from last year. Some of the new features of the game are similar to the Madden game where the game player can now become the team's GM in franchise mode.

As GM, you can manage the salaries of the players, set ticket prices, and make trades. If your team is successful during the years, you can upgrade your simulated GM office. Other new features for the game that I really like is the on-line play where you can hook the Playstation up to the Internet and challenge others from around the globe. Secondly, since it's hooked up to the Internet you can also download player updates and new rosters. Speaking of rosters, EA Sports also cleaned up the mess of out of date rosters from the 2003 version.

The team rosters are pretty up to date. Any free agents that were unassigned to a team can now be found in the Free Agents column. On 2002 version, a few complaints were raised that there was a small limit as to how many players could fit onto the rosters. Teams now begin with 4 or 5 goalies when 3 were the limit on past versions. Also, I was genuinely surprised that the Phoenix Coyotes were up to date with their new logo and uniforms. (See Sept. 4th blog entry) Last year, the Penguins had changed their jerseys, but it was too late to fix it in 2003's version. (It also made my decision not to buy last years for that reason.)

They have also improved their fighting sequences by a new fight engine that provides a no-holds barred realism to the game. Instead of a button-mashing attack, instead you must strategically punch the body and head. The helmets come off as you grapple for dominance. You may also chose when or when not to drop the gloves.

Additionally, you are also rewarded by playing other EA Sports titles and in the beginning, you can chose your favorite team to appear as the wallpaper background to the menu screen.

Getting to the few things that I don't like about the game is the incredible waste of space that putting the European elite leagues on the game. You can also chose to play as one of Sweden, Finland or Germany's elite league teams. I only know a couple of those teams thanks to the NHL expanding their interests to playing exhibition games there. Modo and Jokerit. In my humble opinion, they should have listened to their fans that enjoy the unique All-Star feature of the skills competition. EA's rival ESPN has included the skills competition in their hockey game this year. Look for the skills competition in NHL 2005. I am also having an adjustment period learning how to maneuver the players around the rink. EA Sports found it necessary to incorporate the analog joysticks on the PS 2 to get more realism to the game.
EA Sports... If it's in the game...It's definitely in this game! (The makers of this game have not paid me to endorse their product... but if they wanted to...*wink*)
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