NHL Hitz 2002
Midway’s latest attempt at the virtual ice hockey simulation has resulted in the release of NHL Hitz 2002 for several platforms but perhaps most interestingly for GameCube. Released just one week after the console itself this version is most likely to come under heavy scrutiny cramming itself onto a smaller GameCube disk. But now we’ve seen it and it looks as good as we’d hoped.
EA has been perfecting its ice hockey games for a while now but Midway has been refining its own kind of game and this shows in the 2002 version of NHL Hitz. Very much an arcade game and less of a simulation NHL Hitz 2002 gives players plenty to sink their teeth into. Championships Tournaments Multi-player modes – they’re all their waiting for your gaming thumbs to tame them.
A true gaming ethic is at play here. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In a play system inspired by scissors paper and stone if you try to check the opposition he can simply perform a spin move and escape. Similarly for every offensive play you make there is a defensive play that can scupper it. Like in a fighting game both players understand the rules and priorities making skill timing and reaction the key to winning.
The game itself is a three-on-three affair and bears a pleasing similarity to arcade sports titles of the past like Neo Windjammers and Cyberball. The emphasis is on fun but a high level of skill is required. But this steep learning curve is not overly frustrating; it merely exists to make its players better gamers. Perhaps this series and others like it keep the fires of true gaming burning?——
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