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When Midway Sports first introduced its Hitz series of sports games, it not only introduced some really excellent sports titles but an alternative to the more serious titles already available. With its NHL Hitz games, we saw some pretty interesting things happening to our favorite sport and this is what made it so damn fun to play. Now, with NHL Hitz Pro, the series has gone pro and even features five-on-five hard-slamming action. Ah, you can already feel the heat this one is generating.
Overall, the game is just a blast to play. People that have never played a hockey game before, or ones that are generally intimidated by a big learning curve should be able to pick up the game and have a good time. It's not the prettiest game, that's for sure, but it's lights out when it comes to game play. If you were hesitant because of the game's touted "realism" fear not, cause it's as wild and crazy as ever.
A couple of months back, Midway Sports announced its intention to "go pro" with its new titles. NHL Hitz Pro is the first title to sport (forgive the pun) the new moniker, and it's got a different sensibility about it as well. The idea behind the Pro line is to give gamers more of what they're looking for in a sports title while retaining what it is that Midway has always done well. That translates into a game that features five-on-five hockey and all of the rules of the NHL, with the on-fire antics, speedy gameplay, and slick action everyone's come to expect from NHL Hitz.
Here’s an interesting question to pose to all of you sports fans today: Take a popular sport beloved by millions of people. Now, make it more accessible for newcomers while retaining the strategy necessary for hardcore fans. While some designers would probably go the EA route, with full sim-recreations of the game, Midway Sports went in the opposite direction, with arcade mechanics and over the top action for their sports titles. Innovative and lots of fun to play, Midway aficionados eagerly await the hard-hitting play from year to year. Well, prepare to be surprised, because Midway’s season, led off by NHL Hitz Pro, is more grounded in fundamentals than the absurd.
Midway's NHL Hitz series is only a couple of years old now, and already the company has endeavored to give it a massive overhaul. Earlier this year, Midway announced that it would be completely revamping both its arcadelike Hitz and Blitz series with more simulation-styled gameplay. At the same time, Midway wants to maintain the fast-and-loose style and pace characteristic of both series. NHL Hitz Pro is the first result of this experiment, and, thankfully, Midway has not "done its hockey series wrong." The game is an excellent blend of the two styles of play and has enough options, on either side, to appeal to hockey fans of any sensibility. Above all else, the game is just a lot of fun.
NHL Hitz goes pro with more authentic five-on-five hockey, but hey, players still catch on fire. By adding the 'Pro' at the end of the name, Midway's trying to tell you that its famously over-the-top series is taking the sport much more seriously - but not too seriously. When you play NHL Hitz Pro, that actually makes sense. The feel of parody is gone; rather than being a wild action game based on hockey, this year's edition is a hockey game with some wild action.
Midway has enjoyed a long, secure reign as the king of action sports. From NBA Jam to NFL Blitz to MLB Slugfest, the company has managed to carve out a successful niche for itself by shoving subtlety into the backseat with the kids while barrelling down the fast lane of huge hits and frantic action. The only real competition has been from EA Big, who have in recent years dominated just about every sports genre they touch.
C'est finalement assez cher payé pour cette nouvelle édition de NHL Hitz qui n'apporte pas beaucoup de changements par rapport à la version précédente. Certes, il est possible de jouer en ligne via l'adaptateur réseau de la PS2, mais le gameplay aura toujours autant de mal à convaincre les puristes des jeux de hockey.
What the hell was Midway thinking? Did we really want or need another simulation series or a full recreation of the sport. We have EA, SEGA, Microsoft, and 989 studios to do recreations of the sport. WE WANT PEOPLE FLYING THROUGH GLASS, WE WANT FAST ACTION GAMEPLAY AND PUCKS GOING THROUGH PEOPLES HEADS! Well, maybe we went a little to far with that last request, but hey look at Grand Theft Auto.
The new simulation aspects are a good attempt to make this year's game appeal to every type of hockey fan, but the game still feels like it's caught in transition. From a point of comparison, Hitz still just doesn't stand up to the hardcore offerings of EA and Sega/ESPN, but the ability to scale from icehouse brawling to more serious competition will justifiably be well met by many fans. Hitz was doing pretty well last year, and to continue to be successful, the series needs to decide what it wants to be. Until that happens, there's ample action here to placate those who want a loose, fast game of arcade ice.