I know a lot of you out there are probably going through withdrawals with the absence of the NHL season this year. Whichever way you look at it, the NHL season has been canceled, therefore the next best thing to do is probably play a video game. Today we got the chance to look at 989 Sports’ Gretzky NHL for Sony’s new PSP handheld. Can this version fix some of the problems that were on the PS2 version? You’re going to have to read our full review of the game to find out!
For those of you who did catch my review of Gretzky for the PS2 you will know that the game did have potential but the overall feel of the hockey game weren’t as great as other hockey games already on the market. Now we get to look at the PSP iteration in the series and see how it does.
Similar to NBA for the PSP, Gretzky NHL has a pretty limited amount of options for you to choose from. To be honest, I still wonder why launch titles can’t come with more modes, but this game seems to go with the trend and provide very few. The game includes your exhibition, season, and WiFi play. The season mode is a pretty standard one that does have some complexity but nowhere close to what we all have become used to these days. One of the nicer features of the game is the online play/WiFi support, which allows you to play with people locally or over the Internet. I must admit that just the idea of the PSP going online is quite a neat one and it’s a very big plus to have it in the game.
So how does Gretzky perform on the PSP? Well to be quite frank about it, not too good. The gameplay mechanics as a whole really just feels old-school, but not in a good way. There are some games which can pull off an old-school style, but this game just fails miserably. The translation from PS2 to PSP was pretty poor here, as the game just feels and plays like a pretty big mess. To be honest with you the mechanics of the game are very simple with one button to pass and another to shoot. What doesn’t work in Gretzky NHL is the fact that the whole game has problems. The visuals (talked about more later) cause problems with the gameplay as they really make everything on the ice seem very chaotic.
It is hard to describe fully what went wrong with Gretzky, but in short the game really just doesn’t play anywhere near what we would expect from a hockey game. The controls feel sort of robotic and the gameplay itself is just plain and unexciting.
You have heard about the gameplay itself and how it struggles throughout, but how do the visuals fair? Well from my experiences with the game part of the reason the gameplay is so disappointing is the mere fact that the visuals don’t help the matter one bit. The overall look of the game isn’t all that bad but the game when playing just doesn’t hold up all that well. The frame-rate in the game really is a cause for concern as it is pretty poor from start to finish.
On the positive side though the game does offer up some nice qualities, which include the character models which are actually quite good. The arenas are also nicely made and offer up a pretty good looking experience. Overall it’s a shame the game couldn’t run at a smoother pace, because if it did we might be talking about a different story with this game entirely.
I am actually a big fan of hockey videogames in fact I think they may one of the most fun sports games to play in videogame form. With that being said, Gretzky NHL does not provide the same sort of hockey experience that we have become used to in today’s day and age. The frame rate and over simplistic gameplay really makes this game not fun to play. Although Gretzky does have some nice features on paper, the overall play out of the game is just disappointing.
I got to admit I really think 989 Sports could have given a better effort with this game; it just has a lot of problems that I think should have been addressed before the game was released. With that being said, unless you could not live without a hockey game right now for your PSP, I would say you’re better off going on without this game.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.