If you haven’t heard there won’t be any "real" hockey in this upcoming season, as the players and owners seem to think they all deserve more money, and that no one comes out to watch them. So now with a "hockey-less" season, EA Sports tries to bring you the next best thing. It’s EA Sports’ latest in NHL 2005 for the PlayStation 2.
Over the past few years I have come to find that EA Sports has been very successful at fine-tuning their sports games year after year. It seems like each year the games get better and better, and EA seem to challenge its competition to the fullest. The NHL series has to be one of the more entertaining sports series as in my opinion hockey makes a great video game. The speed of the game is one that lets you use strategy but at a quick pace, and in my eyes I find that very attractive in a video game.
In this years version of NHL hockey we are given a game that really stays with the same sort of formula that it has been with for the past few years. The speed of the game remains mostly the same, and the one difference is in the controls of the game. Unlike last year, which had the slap shots and wrist shots on the same button, this year they changed it up and bit and made them two separate buttons to give the user more control over exactly what is going on. You also will notice that NHL 2005 has a nice new wrap around shot that does wonders for the game.
The one thing that has held the NHL series back in prior years is that the game feels too much arcade-like to be considered a simulation style game like it would like. NHL has been tweaking the game in the past few years trying to find the right sort of blend of gameplay to make the game stand out more to the die-hard hockey fans. The game has gone back and forth with different ideas, and you can see this year they once again were trying some different things.
One of the main gameplay differences I noticed from last year to this year is the amount of hitting that is involved in 2005. I noticed that the game seems to be a rather large amount of emphasis on hitting, which is not always a good thing. At first I will admit I was pretty impressed with how the hits looked on screen, but after quite a few games you will come to realize that there really isn’t this much checking in hockey. Some checking is great, but check after check after check is not so great.
On the flip side EA Sports did get some things right as well and that’s the scoring. In last years game you could score left and right, it just seemed like the scoring just never stopped. This year EA Sports did a much better job of limiting the amount of goals you can get in a game; to a level that would come close to accurately depicting a real life hockey score.
But by far the most exciting portion of NHL 2005 has to be the dynasty mode which is something EA Sports is getting very good at creating. There are just so many different customization options that you can choose from that any hockey enthusiast who is bored to tears with the lack of hockey this season could really spend hours in this mode. They upgraded the whole interface to a much sleeker design that does wonders for the game. You will be spending a lot of your time trying to tweak the different lines to create the best working lines that you can put out onto the ice.
The PS2 version does support the PS2 Online Play, which doesn’t have a whole lot to talk about really. It is exactly what we have come to expect of online PS2 games, and it still works quite well. From my experiences online I didn’t receive a whole lot of lag, and games seemed to run quite smooth.
Overall the gameplay has been improved from last year especially in the controls of the game. Although the game does still have some minor issues that could have used more work, for the most part NHL 2005 is a solid playing hockey title, with an excellent dynasty mode.
In years past I haven’t been as impressed with the graphics of EA’s NHL series as I have with some of their other sports titles. The one thing about the series in my opinion is that the graphics have never been as smooth and fluid. It has seemed very edgy and jumpy something that’s never a good thing.
This year you can see EA Sports placed quite a bit of emphasis trying to improve that very issue. In NHL 2005 one of the key improvements in my eyes are the character models, which are much better then last year. This year you can really see the play in the character models, which makes each player very recognizable. I also noticed that although the game isn’t heavy on detail the game plays in a much nicer fashion. Instead of adding a whole lot of detail EA placed more emphasis on creating a consistent look. I was impressed also with the fact that the replays seem to have a lot more life and clarity then in years past.
Overall we are looking at a game that does a nice job of staying very consistent throughout. The game isn’t one of the best looking games under the EA Sports label but it does make some very nice strides over years past.
One of the things I have learned ever since the countless times of playing "Blades of Steel" on the original NES, hockey was made for video games. It’s something about the sport that just works so well for video games. NHL 2005 makes some great strides to really redefine their hockey series into the best on the market. With probably the best dynasty mode for any hockey game on the market today, you are looking at a game that stays fun from the first game of the season to the last.
Although the game is not perfect, NHL 2005 does a great job of improving upon an already successful series. The game does a nice job of giving us an enjoyable hockey experience that does a good job of improving over last year’s version. For those of you who really need a heavy dose of hockey with this year’s strike should definitely go pick up NHL 2005.
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.