NHL Hitz 20-02


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9.5

Overall: 9

Midway is really an innovator in the video game world. Their sports franchises took the world by storm back in the early 90's starting with NBA Jam. Granted, they release rehash after rehash nearly every year, but once in a while they completely revamp one of their major franchises, taking each one to the next level. While NFL Blitz has remained relatively stagnant over the years, their new hockey franchise, a complete overhaul of the seriously outdated NHL 2 on 2 Challenge, brings the sport alive. It even manages to out-do EA's beloved franchise in the gameplay area.

NHL Hitz 20-02 (yes, spelled with a Z. Now we will have an entire generation thinking hits it spelled like this, kinda like Kombat.) lets the player pick an NHL franchise or create their own and take them into a franchise mode, season mode, mini-games, playoffs, and who knows what else, 3-on-3 style. The entire package is really unbeatable. The franchise mode isn't typical as there isn't any trading, drafting, or anything else of the sort. Instead, you'll upgrade your stats to try and make your way up the ladder, tackling each NHL team. The season mode, again, doesn't allow for trading, but does let the player try their skills at the grueling 82 game NHL season.

Fast is a bad word to describe this game. Blazing fits the bill much better. The puck glides across the ice at unbelievable speed and slightly enhanced physics to create a more hectic style of play. Each of the players are filled with polygons with an emphasis on muscle mass. Some of the faces plastered on the heads of the players don't quite look like their real-life counterpart, but this is no reason to detract from the score. Flaming players (who score 3 goals in a row) add a nice lighting effect to the ice and surrounding players.

Checking someone through the glass looks painful, but listen to the blast of bass you'll get with it, and you'll feel it too. The announcer is absolutely ecstatic and is a veteran of the genre ever since NBA Jam. The crowd is a little quiet considering all of the action occurring on the ice, but the rest of the effects make up for this little exclusion.

Anyone familiar with Midways 2-on-2 Challenge will be right at home with Hitz. There are no longer any crazy slapshots and it's actually somewhat more realistic. Fighting has been included and it's easily the best fighting engine ever put into a hockey game, resembling Ready 2 Rumble to some extent. The goalies are a bit too good sometimes, not letting even the best looking one-timers through.

With a few minor issues, NHL Hitz still reigns supreme. It's frenetic style of play, rock-solid gameplay, and immense number of modes make this a complete package. Unless your absolutely dying for a realistic NHL sim, go with Midway this year. You wont be disappointed.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:29 PM