If you can rely on Electronic Arts for one thing only it’s that every autumn it’ll bring you a digital version of North America’s fastest and most brutal sport – ice hockey. The NHL season is kicking off again across the pond and since the days of the Megadrive and NHL ’94 EA has made sure that hockey fans have a game to go with it.
As well as this season’s teams and roster you get a load more new features to put a twist on this year’s edition. All-new for this iteration is the FIFA-like skill stick. Using the right analogue stick you can drop the puck between your feet or humiliate goalies with a crafty nutmeg. This year’s version also takes you back to the glory days of the aforementioned NHL ’94 with ‘classic deking control’ allowing you to weave and deke your way around opposition in a flatteringly intuitive manner. The skating physics are made even more realistic and satisfying with a new momentum feature which you can use to your advantage but can catch you out too. The momentum makes it harder for larger players to change direction quickly but build up momentum and you’ll be able to glide effortlessly past opponents leaving trails in the ice behind you.
Also new to the game is a healthy dosage of fear in the form of the RPM (Realistic Puck Momentum) physics. Injure defenders and scare the life out of armoured goalies with the terrifying weapon that is the puck. Watch as the puck ripples the netting and sends water bottles spinning across the ice.
Player editors are becoming something of a staple in EA Sports titles and NHL 2006 is no different. Create a player in your own images add black eyes and broken noses; build an entire team if you fancy it. Fans of ice hockey love it for its speed and aggression and this year’s NHL game replicates that better than it has for some time.——
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