Written by  :  The Cliffe (1708)
Written on  :  Apr 30, 2008
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by The Cliffe


Midway takes the game of hockey and injects it with their trademark cocktail of smash-mouth adrenaline, with mostly good results.

The Good

The NBA Jam formula that really set the ball rolling for arcade sports applies itself quite naturally to a game like hockey -- a game that, admittedly, is already pretty lax in the rules department. A sporting event that already features thunderous body checks, inhumanly fast skaters, bare-knuckle brawls, and gratuitous showboating should be relatively easy to translate into the world of arcade-style gaming, and Midway has done a respectable job of overseeing that transition. HITZ gives you a fast-paced, over-the-top game of hockey that's easy to play, and has a surprisingly deep number of game modes and options.

Those options include your standard exhibition match, as well as a championship mode where you can take your favorite team through the ladder of NHL squads (including a mirror match against your own squad) for the right to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup. If you want to go deeper, you can create your own team and lead them through a Franchise Mode, where you can earn experience to spend on your custom players abilities or even to buy existing players from the NHL.

All these modes will earn you credits, which can be used to purchase a laundry list of unlockables in the Hockey Shop. Among the goodies included are new arenas (featuring wacky themes such as a pirate ship or a disco bar), hidden teams, historical logos, and alternate jerseys. The large selection of purchasable items ensures that you'll have plenty to work to do.

And then we come to the true reason this game exists: Multiplayer. If you're playing this game with less than four active controllers, many would say you're completely missing the point. HITZ is at it's best when shared with three other rabid, trash-talking hockey fanatics. There aren't a lot of options for multiplayer outside of the standard exhibition game, but the gameplay is fun enough with four players involved that you likely won't notice the lack of variety.

The Bad

Although the game is fun to play, there isn't a heck of a lot of depth to be found here. Goals seem to happen more so because of luck than anything else -- although, like most hockey video games, one-timers seem to have a higher rate of success than any other approach. Strategy doesn't play a big part in the game either; you and your opponents basically skate up and down the ice and trade shots until one of them happens to go in.

The fighting is kind of lame. The system for fighting is well-thought out and balanced and has a surprisingly large number of moves and punches that can be executed, but the fights themselves look downright silly, and almost take away from the high-octane atmosphere of the game.

I know there's a pretty lively debate over what qualifies as "hockey music", but I think we can all agree that Limp Bizkit and Hockey have absolutely nothing in common, so why did Midway see it fit to feature "Rollin" as the title track?

Well, I guess everyone makes mistakes...

The Bottom Line

Overall, NHL HITZ is a well-thought out idea that just needs a little bit of fine tuning. This is a much better iteration of Arcade Hockey than Midway's previous attempt, a game called "NHL Open Ice 2 on 2" (it wasn't a bad game -- this one is just better). If you're a lover a Hockey and have a few like-minded friends, HITZ would be a solid addition into your Sunday-afternoon hang out sessions.