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Hockey for a new generation of portable gaming: the PSP generation. Gretzky NHL is big on speed, really big on fun, and small on accurate passing. That's definitely something they could tweak for the next game. I really liked the lack of maneuverability between the players. It's frustrating, but watching them slip and slide as they change directions is a lot more believable than if they had immediately started moving.
Gretzky NHL is currently the only hockey game on the PSP, and for a first effort on the platform, it isn't bad. Frame rate sticklers will want to stay away, but if you're a hockey nut with a PlayStation Portable, you almost have no choice but to buy. The next generation of this title has to address the multitude of issues raised, but this will hold us over until then.
Like NBA is for basketball, Gretzky NHL is the only hockey game in the PSP’s launch lineup. If you’re a die-hard hockey fan and really need your NHL fix, then Gretzky NHL is passable and should keep you happy. Otherwise, you’re better off just holding out this season and waiting for next year.
If you're feeling feisty, you can chase the great Gretzky's numerous records. Wireless head-to-head play with a pal is a kick. It might not win over fans looking for a hardcore sim, but in the handheld rink, Gretzky NHL at least holds home ice.
Gretzky NHL for PSP is fairly competent. The game is a pretty decent port of its PS2 sibling. Unfortunately, the generally lackluster gameplay and sporadic framerate make it hard to recommend to anyone except those that must absolutely have a portable hockey game. Gretzky NHL isn’t bad, is certainly aided by addition of online play, and is currently – and will likely remain for a while – the only option.
Not to harp on the comparisons to NBA, but like that game, the groundwork for a decent series has been laid. Unfortunately, a good game a year or two from now doesn’t do anything for someone that wants a good hockey game now. Yes, Gretzky NHL is your only choice for hockey on the PSP, but unless you think unlocking four different versions of #99 cancels out terribly frustrating gameplay, you’re going to want to take a pass on this one.
Game Over Online
Overall, if you need a hockey fix, you’d probably be better served looking towards a console version to satisfy your needs. While it does have unlockable features and a great cover athlete to find and play with, the limited game options hampers the game significantly. However, if you have to take your ice to go, Gretzky is solely an option for those diehard Great One fans that can’t help but feel an overwhelming desire to bang the boards with an icon.
Without a rush to beat the PSP launch deadline, Gretzky NHL could have been something. At its heart the gameplay is functional, but the speed is actually too fast for its own good and the players thus can't be controlled well which leads to the hassles of controlling the puck. The lack of major playmodes aside from the basics is something we're getting used to, but that will likely be fixed with the forthcoming sports games this fall. Much of the game is sound and are building blocks for the future, which they'll need when the big boys start putting their games on the PlayStation Portable, but for now, this might be worth a rental if you're a hockey fan, but not really worth a buy – even if you desperately miss the NHL, this likely won't make you feel too good about it.
Game Informer Magazine
After playing this title, I walked away with the feeling that Todd Bertuzzi blindsided me on the back of the head, then smashed my face directly into the ice. While I did pull of some pretty shots and found myself in a number of nail-biting games, the abysmal framerate makes it very difficult to comprehend the action.
Gretzky NHL is likely to be the only option for hockey on the PSP for a good long while, but unless you're absolutely chomping at the bit for some NHL action, you shouldn't bother with it. Simply being the only hockey choice doesn't excuse things like the awful frame rate, the sloppy puck handling, and the generally lackluster gameplay that Gretzky NHL offers. You're better off without this one.
Hardcore hockey fans looking for a simulation experience may be disappointed by this title. It straddles the line between "arcade" and "sim", and doesn't have the feel of today's NHL hockey. However, gamers looking for a fun, casual game with online play and unlockables may like Gretzky NHL as an excellent update to the classic hockey games of the 16-bit era.
If you're desperate for something to fill the void left by the National Hockey League strike, then Gretzky NHL can help. On-the-fly play-calling, give-and-go passing, and precise aiming let you become an offensive threat. Go head-to-head with a friend in Wi-Fi–connected mode. Take the Gretzky Challenge and try to beat any one of the Great One's 60 NHL records to earn unlockables like additional teams and items. This fast-paced game isn't perfect, but it can be a lot of fun.
In a sense, Gretzky NHL represents a “perfect world" for the league. There's a lot of open ice, no clutching or grabbing, and plenty of room in which to shoot the puck. Furthermore, Gretzky is not devoid of redeeming features, and actually plays a decent game of arcade Hockey when the settings are right. Still, those looking for a legitimate substitute for the usual offerings of EA and Take-Two on the PSP launch won't find one here. Gretzky NHL ultimately ends up a jack of all trades, bringing the graphical detail of this generation's Hockey sims (at the cost of extreme frame loss), the options of last gen's, and the gameplay of the 16-bit era. Sadly, 989's kicking-and-screaming refusal to just let their game wear its natural old-school colors undermined the entire package, turning a potentially great game of arcade Hockey into a low-quality wannabe simulation that's hard to recommend to anyone but the most hardcore of Hockey fans.
I can t help but get the feeling that this game was created by people who shout "touchdown" when the puck goes into the net. The stats are all out of whack, players that never fight are dropping gloves, trade requests that simply make zero sense (Simon Gagne for a player on your farm team?), and stupid unlockables, such as a seven-foot, 300lb RoboEnforcer Model-44 (Model 43 just didn t cut it). Unlocking Gretzky and putting him in my lineup did prove to be fun, but even The Great One couldn t convince me to come back for another season in his PSP game.
So what's our new bottom line? It's similar to that of the PS2 version. If you are a fan and are hockey starved because of the lack of a 2004-2005 season, then this very well might be the game for you. If you are the type of fan that would be bothered by some of these minor details or you disliked the original Gretsky NHL 2005, you may want to wait until there is a tad more competition before investing your forty bucks. And if you don't happen to fit into either of those categories, just go back to playing Lumines. You know you want to.
Hockey fans: skip Gretzky NHL. It's not a good game, and no good will come out of spending your $40. Instead, hope and pray that EA or Sega gets in gear and makes a passable hockey game for the handheld. Until then, looks like hockey on the PSP will be as dead as in real life.
Unless your hockey withdrawal is giving you the shakes, you're better off waiting a little while for a more polished NHL title to hit the PSP, or at least until the developers of Gretzky NHL have more time to fix this game's problems. While a lack of bonus content or a Franchise mode can be overlooked, the framerate issues that affect the gameplay cannot. Hockey fans want to see their favorite players gliding effortlessly across the ice, not spastically jerking from end to end. The Great One was one of the smoothest players of all time, but his game is in dire need of a few visits from the zamboni to smooth out the bumps.