Your chance to play for the Stanley Cup

by Alan Zisman (c) 1999. First published in Toronto Computes, December 1999

NHL 2000
Electronic Arts Sports
Requires: Windows 95/98 (NT not supported), Pentium 200 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 70 Meg drive space
Recommended: Pentium II-300 or better, 200 Meg drive space, 3D accelerator card
Multiple players are supported via network or Internet

Even if most of the teams come from south of the 49th Parallel, hockey is still the game closest to Canadian?s hearts.

So I suppose it?s a good thing that computer hockey remains a made-in-Canada product. Yes, Electronic Arts Sports? NHL 2000 is out, proudly produced by EA?s Burnaby, BC studio.

We asked a pair of real kids, 12 year old Sam and 15 year old Joey, to put the PC version of the game through its paces on a 400 MHz Pentium-II with a graphics accelerator card?there?s also a version for Sony PlayStation. Both boys were impressed with EA?s attention to the little things that add to the game?s realism. Sam pointed out that ?if you score a cheap goal, the other players push you?, while Joey liked how ?if you get in a fight and win, the people on your bench cheer for you?when your team is going off the ice, the coach in a suit walks off with them?. Sam liked how the ice sprayed when a player came to a stop, and summed it up??It?s pretty realistic. Nothing seemed out of place?.

EA prides themselves on their attention to details?look hard enough, and you?ll notice that even the hockey pucks show off the home team?s logo. Where in previous versions, the fans in the stands were just little dots, this time around, the boys noticed that close-ups showed people up there.

And while, like other sports games, NHL 2000 includes updated rosters and uniforms, along with more realistic-than-ever faces on the players. As well, this game includes a feature new to sports-gamedom. You can create a new player, and by importing a digital photo, map on the face from the photo?imagine, a player with your name and now your face, getting to play in the Stanley Cup!

While the boys were impressed with the look of the game, they were less taken with the game?s feel. Both boys felt that the game seemed slower-paced than NHL 98 or 99. Joey thought that players were skating more slowly, making it feel like there was less action. Sam found the new shot strength meter just too finicky?he preferred the controls used in previous versions, with one gamepad button for a slapshot, and another for a wrist shot.

The result, according to both boys, is a game that?s visually appealing, but less fun to play. Joey proposed that ?hard-core hockey fans are going to have to get it?, but otherwise, they didn?t feel like it was a ?must have? for owners of previous versions. After playing this new version, Sam didn?t feel much need to update his NHL 98, while Joey said he?d be happy to stick with last year?s NHL 99.

Search WWW Search

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan