I don’t really like to put down development teams because I can only imagine how much hard work goes into making each individual video game that is out on the market. But there are times where you just have to wonder what is going on, which is the case with Sony’s sport development team, 989 Sports that has not released a standout game for the PS2 in quite a long time. Now Sony has gone with developers Page 44 Studios with their second hockey game headlined by the Great One, Gretzky NHL 06 for the PS2. So does this game improve upon the solid outing last year? Read our full review to find out!
I must say last year when I played Gretzky NHL 2005 I was impressed at the mere fact that the game really had the potential to really improve and be a contender this year. Although we really didn’t hear much about this game in its development process I was one who was interested to see if Page 44 Studios could make a game that could compete with the two big boys of 2K Sports and EA Sports both who came out with solid hockey titles this season. So can Page 44 Studios put Gretzky NHL 06 on the map as a solid competitor?
The real new addition to Gretzky NHL 06 is the chemistry system, which tries to give more of a "team feel" to the whole game. This sounds like a great idea, as you find out the player who plays best with each other, and give more value and advantage to the team. Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, the overall use of this is too easy to master and therefore really just becomes a non-factor in your games.
One thing last year that I thought had a lot of potential was the game’s shooting system, which was well made but still needed a lot more tweaking to really get it to a level of solid use. What the system did was allow you to be very accurate with your shots, and although was sort of hard to get the hang of, it was still a good idea. The shooting is still pretty much the same in this game and I was actually hoping that they would refine this system in a way that would allow for it to be a more consistent feature.
When everything comes together, Gretzky NHL 06 is a good solid experience, but nothing too overwhelming. I was surprised to see that the developers really didn’t change the game all that much from last year’s game. Sure last year’s game was good, but it still had a lot of work that needed to be done and I just didn’t see that happen in Gretzky NHL 06, which was pretty unfortunate.
The game of course does have the new Wayne vs. Wayne mode, which to be honest is fun for a little while, but for the most part is pretty basic. Basically the better you do in the game, you will in turn fill up a meter. Once you get the meter filled, you get a sixth player, which is none other that the great one himself Wayne Gretzky. Sure it was fun to skate as Wayne the first few times, but after a while it just seemed like a little side adventure in the entire game.
Gretzky NHL 06 has all of the same modes as last year’s game, and their franchise mode really has gone unchanged as well. The whole game just doesn’t feel enough improved from last year’s game. I really was hoping the developers would step it up this because had they done so this game could have easily competed this year as the competition was not as strong as in recent years. Gretzky NHL 06 is a playable game but not one that is going to turn heads like it could have been.
Presentation-wise Gretzky NHL 06 has some improvements over last year’s game, mainly in terms of character models, which are much more detailed and just feel a lot more lifelike then they did last year. I must say that you have a much better sense this year of whose face is who and you can see this right out of the gate. The player animation however is really hit or miss, as there are some strong points and then there are some problems that need addressing.
Gretzky NHL 06 is not a game that at first glance is going to wow you, in fact even give this game some time and it probably won’t be something that you’re going to really be impressed by. But the developers of the game did a good enough job of eliminating most of the problems in last year’s game but still having some that need improved for next year’s game.
Gretzky NHL 06 is one of those games that are an enjoyable experience but not one that you’re going to sit there and say "wow what a game". The developers kept this game once again right on the line of average, which is pretty unfortunate. I think the most fun I had in this game was with the Wayne vs. Wayne mode, because being able to play as the great one just was a thrill, especially seeing him back on the ice. Overall though this is a pretty mediocre experience that I really thought was going to be a lot better then it ended up being.
Gretzky NHL 06 is a game that I would have a tough time selling because there are some issues that the game still needs to address. However if you enjoy the semi-arcade feel of last year’s game and want the update rosters and rule changes, then this is the game for you. However with better hockey games on the market, I would have to say this game only warrants a rental at most.
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.