"Hockey 1, Hockey 2!"
This one didn't grab me at all which is
surprising as I am a hockey fan and thought that it would be a fun way to
spend some time. All I really wound up with is a title that I would play if I
had nothing else.
Unfortunately the title plays like a poor
cousin of the EA sports titles and you do feel like you are playing something
a little less than what you would have hoped for. There are a number of
control issues that stop you from really feeling like you are taking control
of the puck and manipulating defenders is a bit hit and miss, the sensation is
more that of fluking a move rather than your skills getting you the goal.
If there was one thing to say in favour of
this title, it would be that even a novice player is going to be able to score
a goal or two. Unlike EA's offering which could possibly be likened to one of
the most realistic on the mark, Rivals 2004 makes it all very easy.
The game looks pretty nice with some good
player models and stadiums to play in. I'd say that the title looks nicer than
EA's game, however once you start to try to move, you'll see that the nature
of the gameplay has you wondering whether you did that crackshot or did the
game compensate for you.
Online play is fast and easy over XBox Live
with your main championship mode that counts toward your online ranking, or
you and some friends can just log in and play an unranked game against other
folks around the world. It's a nice touch and the sort of thing that just
might convince your friends that it's worth the purchase to get Live. It's
just a shame that the game was not a bit stronger to support the ease of
getting into the title.
Audio is a little lackluster, the calls
made during the game don't keep up with the action, so whilst you'll get some
spirited stuff on occasion, it's the fact that it's in reference to a play
that has come and gone, whereas the audience reactions to what you are doing
are bang on the money most of the time.
I think that one of the confusing things to
the title is the poor animation that makes what could have been a very clear
game into somewhat of a mess. There seem to be frames missing that make your
men jump and jerk around seemingly aimlessly like fish flopping around on the
deck of a boat. Very odd to watch on occasion and very distracting.