Written by  :  Des Dearman (8)
Written on  :  Jan 04, 2009
Platform  :  PlayStation
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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The most defining moment of the series

The Good

Being totally surprised .

Having owned the previous version (97) my expectations for 98 were along the lines of the EA yearly update. Id bought the game on impulse in truth, the fact i then spent the next few days solid playing it will probably give away the golden glowing review i am about to give, as if you'd probably guessed by the title anyway.

So what was so great:

The intro. The gameplay/speed/animation, The atmosphere/commentary. The improved graphics/details.

All of those contributed to the biggest leap in the series history in terms of the core game we still play today.

Starting from the off with the intro. The perfect watch before you started playing, it was simply pumping with adrenaline, something not to be skipped, it really set the mood. Not anything since (99's heroes) nor the previous effort in the shiny cgi fest that was 97's were in the same league.

The general gameplay. Where probably the game shone the most compared to anything before, and when you look back on it, it's still at the same pace and style we enjoy today.

Gone were the clunky animations of the early gen/famicon games which were translated into the first 3d effort on the ps (97), what we had here was massively smooth fast flowing gameplay with animations on the players to match.

The atmosphere, one word HUGE.

The one that kept me hooked, the rink was alive, it flowed much like the rest of the game, gone were the ghost towns of 97's soulless experience. When the puck went dead in 98 the music pumped up a notch, the crowd went wild, 97 you could hear a pin drop and a side swipe around the crowd revealed about 20 people watching on the first row (not very ea like)

The commentary, another giant leap, this is what we enjoy today, where it started, the fastest most solid flowing commentary in any sports game started right in nhl 98.... simply mind blowing for the time, it'd still put just about every soccer/football ingame commentary to shame (over 10 years on)

Again with the graphics, improved over anything before, genre setting for what we get today. From the basic things like the player status/stats that come up on the cutscene intermissions, player decals, names on shirts ect.. all started in 98.

The Bad

There wasn't much bad about the game in truth, 98 struck a cord of balance that is rarely seen.

It did everything the playstation could just about handle, far beyond previous efforts fitting that perfect void, and shown up by 99 on the ps as being exactly that when 99 tried to add too much beyond the capabilities of the humble machine, as a result the gameplay suffered.

The Bottom Line

It's gone now, the only thing worth reliving is the intro, it still the best, you can find it as easy as you like on you tube.

It was worth reliving this one though, it really did set the standard for the nhl series we play today.... and may it long continue.