I don’t particularly like ice skating. During my high school years we often went ice skating in gym class. Strangely I was always sick on those days. There came however a day that I couldn’t come up with a decent excuse and so I was forced to put on those dorky figure skating skates whereas all my classmates brought their own Bauer ice hockey skates. I already got off on the wrong foot or skate and when I set my first foot on the ice it immediately became clear that ice skates kind of miss their purpose. Aren’t they meant to make it easier to move around on ice? In my case they only made it easier to fall and break a leg. They therefore had a contrarily effect. No, ice skating is not my cup of thee. Thank god for game computers that give every geek the opportunity to be a hero for once. This obviously was the reasoning of my editor in chief when he decided to give me this game. “Here you go lad, go and skate little boy, it’s impossible to fall.”
This isn’t my first hockey game. I believe there’s one collecting dust in my collection somewhere. This doesn’t insinuate that I didn’t like playing it though. Heck, I spend at least half an hour of my life, playing with it. The aging however made me forget what instalment it was; probably 2004 or earlier. I’m curious if they changed anything in two or three year’s time. Our own Billieturf was rather positive about last year’s instalment. I wonder if I’m on the same side as he is.
There, now you’ve all read two anecdotic introductions without me saying anything about the game itself. I’d say it’s time to start doing so. First off I want to point out another cliché, namely the constant stream of sports games from the EA Sports barn. I honestly think that there won’t be a year without an NHL, NBA, FIFA or Madden title. Whether or not you should be happy about this fact is yours to decide. I for one know that they’ll touch the sealing sooner or later. In NBA Live they succeeded in giving us a new gameplay feature, namely the superstar freestyle. In NHL however, they’ve been a little less generous though.
The rosters have been updated, as well as the rules. Apparently they’ve changed them. Fans maybe get a kick out of this but gamers like you and me who actually couldn’t care less, really don’t mind. Aside from this they’ve also done some “pimp my puck” work. This sounds as silly as it is. On the back of the cover you can read all about it. The so called RPM system, which is short for Realistic Puck Momentum, makes it possible to knock out the goalie with the puck or, hold tight, shoot the drinking bottle off of the goal. First of, I wonder why the goalie puts his drinking bottle on top of the goal. I mean, he’s wearing this huge harness, wearing a little belt with water bottles attached to it, shouldn’t be to heavy to wear now would it? Second, if you didn’t read this feature on the cover, you won’t even notice it in the game. I’m afraid this is where the whole “new features” story ends.
”The gameplay was good already, so why change anything?” If they followed this reasoning over at the EA Sports studios, they do deserve a good bitch slap. People may be victims of the commercial society, that doesn’t make them so stupid to buy anything that’s thrown at them. The pessimism is pouring down on me again, I’m fully aware of that. I’m even making up complot theories. Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood namely gave me the same feeling. Is it possible that Gearbox and EA found out about my hate against non inspired follow-ups and in the meantime team up to boycott me? Well, this is probably a little bit far fetched. That doesn’t change the fact that EA Sports is delivering a very identical game experience with NHL 06.
I should however confess that this game isn’t bad. Everything from the gameplay to the graphics is enjoyable. The soundtrack is even highly enjoyable with hard rock tracks all over the place. Heck, they even built in an online multiplayer which makes me wonder about EA’s explanation about the lack of an online mode in European NBA Live games. They stated that the European market for basketball games is too small, therefore they didn’t implement an online mode in NBA Live games. However, this insinuates that the market for hockey games is bigger in Europe. I’m putting big question marks behind this statement but the important thing is that there is an online mode so we should be happy in stead of winy. I did enjoy NHL 06, don’t get me wrong. Playing it with a friend is always fun. But this might be due to the fact that I didn’t have to pay 60 euros for it. I just opened my mailbox, put it in my Xbox and started playing without feeling guilty about spending so much money on something that identical.
Therefore if you’re incredibly rich and you don’t know what to do with your pocket money: buy this game. If you’re an enormous fan of hockey games: wait for NHL 2K6. This game isn’t only cheaper but also better. A fact that’s true for all 2K Sports titles really. Sorry Electronic Arts, but the truth has to be told.