NHL Hitz 2002 - PS2

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Also for: Xbox, GameCube
Viewed: 3D Top-down, Multi-way scrolling Genre:
Sport: Ice Hockey
Media: CD Arcade origin:No
Developer: EA Black Box Soft. Co.: Midway
Publishers: Midway (GB)
Released: 16 Nov 2001 (GB)
Ratings: 11+
Features: Analogue Control Compatible: analogue sticks only
Accessories: Memory Card


Midway took up the NHL license with great gusto, giving the development to Black Box Games, along with a brief to make an innovative hockey game. Black Box took the lead from Midway’s own NFL Blitz and Created NHL Hitz 2002 for PlayStation 2.

Forget sports simulators, realism and strategy. This hockey game is a far cry from cry from the chapped knees and jolly hockey sticks of the English playing fields. Midway has delivered an ice hockey themed romp-em-up, with an emphasis on fun and, not to put too fine a point on it, violence!

Pleasingly lacking any of the sophistication that invaded gaming in the late nineties and early noughties, Hitz is a simplistic game in nature and presentation. The main game modes centre around playing hockey matches, as you can imagine. There is Exhibition Mode and Career Mode, as well as the option to play an entire season. That is immaterial though, something you learn from the start of the very first play.

We turned on NHL Hitz and selected an exhibition match. As the timer counted down to face off, we were tickled by the way you can make your player wiggle his stick around to try and win the puck, in scenes reminiscent of the early EA NHL titles for 16-Bit consoles. Then as soon as play begins, something unexpected happens. The computer player kicks your player in the leg, steals the puck and scores in about two seconds.

Feeling somewhat wronged, the second play begins. Exactly the same thing happens and you are two down with four seconds played. Something is not right here! NHL Hitz does not play like you may expect. It is really, really fast for a start, and brutality wins over true hockey gaming skill.

Featuring licensed players and teams, Hitz is an impressive title to behold. The commentary is the best around and sounds excitably real, as does the noise coming from the interactive and fully 3D rendered crowd. Not bad, eh?

As you might expect, there are many unlockable modes, players and stadiums, as well as a chunky selection of mini-games for all you crazed perfectionists out there.

It is obvious when you play NHL Hitz that the development team put its time and resource to good use. A stunning and intricate fighting system has been included, enabling you to settle any nasty tackling debates in the time-honoured tradition of the rink. The victor then gets a celebratory cut-scene to bask in his glory. Gaming the way it should be, you could argue…