NHL Championship 2000
Windows - 1999
Description of NHL Championship 2000
We want Stanley
Anyone who has lived in Michigan as a young boy will have had more than his fair share of hockey. My active involvement in this most Canadian of sports (well, except maybe for curling) ended when it became apparent that I was not keeping up with my hockey-playing peers in the size department. Not being one to hold a grudge, however, I have remained a life-long fan of the sport, even in its more unfashionable days in the 1980s when the NBA was starting its meteoric rise to a third-place position in the American sports hierarchy. I guess living within receiving distance of the CBC and getting weekly Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts will do weird things to your brain. Suffice it to say that I have been around hockey long enough to know what is and isn't a good hockey game. Yet when I play FOX Sports Interactive's new NHL Championship 2000, I'm left scratching my head.
Installing the game was a rather unpleasant experience solely due to the fact that the install screen left me staring at a large picture of Mike Modano. No Red Wings fan would tolerate such a situation for very long, and upon starting the game for the first time I found myself in a particularly surly mood, ready to toss a few octopi from the virtual Joe Louis Arena rafters. Which is where I found myself after loading up a Red Wings-Stars exhibition game. Hmmm...
William Shatner is a Canadian
The game uses the format of a FOX NHL broadcast to draw the gamer in, and for the first few times through it actually succeeds. The theme music is the same as on television, as are the camera shots, and there are lead-ins for various matchups which the game considers to constitute "rivalries" (like Detroit-Colorado) where Kenny Albert says remarkably Kenny Albert-like things. Albert is joined by John Davidson, who follows his partner's lead-in with canned commentary on each goalie (which, of course, gets old after you've heard it, um, once). It's a remarkable attempt at branding and a good marketing idea, to be sure, although after all the shortcuts to FOX Sports Online that the game deposited on my desktop and in my Start menu, you can be sure that's the last place I'll be going to get any sports info. Oh, did I mention the cool slogan on the opening screen that directs you to a certain online sports information source? I'll give you a hint: it's not espn.com.
All the clever talk in Canada isn't going to save a bad game once you "set foot" on the "ice," though, and this is where NHL Championship 2000 starts to crumble. For one thing, the player graphics are decidedly average. This is not a killer in itself, but when combined with the absolutely awful animations, it leaves a gamer wondering how much of the budget was spent on re-take after re-take of Albert and Davidson, since there obviously wasn't much left over for this. Left searching for words, I finally settled on "robotic." Not because the movements are jerky, but simply because the way players move is impossible in real life unless they have some other means of propulsion and the body movements are just for show. Remember those old table-top hockey games where you pulled and turned levers to control little two-dimensional players? NHL Championship 2000 makes it look like there is someone off-screen slowly pulling a lever and drawing players back and forth across the ice while their legs move for show. Of course, theseplayers can move side-to-side across the rink as well. Amazing what can be done with computers these days.
For all the talk about wide-open play in the NHL and how the league wants to encourage it, you'd think that computer hockey game designers would strive for the same thing. In fact, I'm told that's exactly what they are doing (see below). So why does NHL Championship 2000 play like it's taking place in a frozen sandbox? The ice surface is perceptibly overcrowded despite the fact that there aren't any extra players on the ice. This odd "shrunken rink" effect means that there is rarely enough space to play pretty hockey, and as a result the game degenerates into a puck-carrier crossing the blue line and then setting up some sort of quick passing sequence to get a shot off before someone gets knocked off the puck. Players hold the puck too long as well, meaning that passing is generally limited to setting up shots in the offensive zone rather than gaining the zone in the first place.
I am not one to insist on absolutely "realistic" gameplay. Excessive realism (in some sports more than others) can kill a game because playing a computer game and being a spectator at a live match are fundamentally different experiences. Interesting points in a live game can be ignored by the spectator, who is not forced to pay attention every single second. The gamer, on the other hand, must devote his attention to the game at all times, and thus can become annoyed when forced to maintain concentration during parts which, as a spectator, would be overlooked. The trick to creating a good game is making the gameplay seem realistic and using exaggerated or unrealistic elements only to "smooth over" the boring parts. The result should be a game which gives the illusion of being realistic by not having the cartoonish aspects jump out at you. If you look for them you'll be able to spot them, but the total game experience should hide them to some extent. If the arcade elements jump out at the player, the game turns into a cartoon or caricature.
FIFA 2000 (switching sports momentarily) is a perfect example of "realism" done right. The game seems to flow like soccer, even though the players turn too easily, pass too accurately, and run too consistently. The game simply makes the whole thing feel realistic while you're playing because just enough things are modeled accurately to confirm the illusion. NHL Championship 2000 fails in this task, and the overall effect is a mixture of bland gameplay and cartoonish excess. The game can be played in "Arcade" or "Sim" modes, but I strain to tell the difference. The most annoying thing is the fact that when players get hit, they fly into the air as though they have just been on the receiving end of a Slava Fetisov hip-check, no matter how incidental the contact or from what angle it was initiated. This is often accompanied by some inane comment from John Davidson, who I hope was looking through his FOX Sports contract until the very last minute for a clause that would allow him to get out of having to record some of the idiotic things he was obviously forced to say under threat of torture. At least I hope that's what happened.
So is Peter Jennings
NHL Championship 2000 lacks several important features which would make it more competitive as a game, although the graphics/gameplay combination puts it at a marked disadvantage. The most important is the lack of a career play option. Much as I like winning the Stanley Cup, I'd like to be able to try and repeat while my squad ages and I'm forced to make canny general manager decisions (much like Ken Holland) to keep my squad competitive. Playing and replaying the 1998-9 season is not something that will keep the game on my hard drive. There is a World Tournament for all of you Czech Republic fans, although the idea of playing out a Slovakia-Italy matchup leaves me a bit cold.
The second problem is that there is no way to edit the in-game player stats, although new players can be created. This is annoying, especially if you want to tweak the default numbers which don't give Igor Larionov proper credit for his passing skills. You might also want to adjust your team's abilities to give yourself a bit of an edge on the AI, although if you're doing this after the first half-hour or so, you're playing the wrong game. The AI is decidedly bad, and most games will see you with a large edge in shots thanks to the AI's particular ineptitude on offense.
John Candy, The Guess Who, Brett Todd...
If it sounds like there isn't a lot to recommend this title, then you've got the basic idea. The TV-in-your-computer shtick works for the first couple times through, until you realize that it's no more interesting than when you hear it on television. And there you can actually look forward to seeing a hockey game.
In the latest Computer Gaming World, editor George Jones reveals that the changes to EA Sports' hockey title, NHL 2000, which eschewed realism for a more arcade-like feel, were no accident. "The shift to a more arcade-style of play was a conscious decision," producer Kevin Williamson was quoted as saying. Apparently, the choice seems to be between making games "realistic" and making them "fun." In the case of FOX Sports Interactive's product, it is neither. Save your money.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Jlnhlfan 2019-07-07 0 point
I tried running the .exe file, and Norton removed it because it said that the .exe file was unsafe. You scanned the .zip file.
admin 2019-06-26 1 point
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