ESPN NHL Hockey - Xbox

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ESPN NHL Hockey (Xbox)
Also for: PS2
Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Sport: Basketball
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Kush Soft. Co.: SEGA
Publishers: SEGA (GB)
Released: 28 Nov 2003 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 3+
Accessories: Memory Unit
Connectivity: Xbox Live, Xbox System Link Cable


This latest ESPN-endorsed sports title from Sega delivers its own take on the popular American sport, focussing on its intensity and grittiness in an attempt to recreate the action-packed atmosphere of the game's live event. Obviously, these days there's not a great deal of originality you can bring to such a game - ESPH NHL Hockey marks its territory by offering plenty of raw action and a comprehensive set of features.

Thanks largely to the ESPN endorsement, the game presents itself in a very TV-like way throughout, bringing you authentic box scores, overlays, stats and other elements that go towards capturing the atmosphere of an ESPN NHL broadcast. Additionally, an impressive graphics engine renders highly detailed player models, faces, uniforms, arenas and environmental effects, helping to make the effect more like you're playing the real thing.

Placing emphasis on the physical aspects of the sport, the game features a realistic board pinning element, which gives you the option to wear down opponents, fight for possession, or tie up the puck in order to get a whistle. There's also a focus on what the developers like to term the "art" of a well-executed hit - pull one of these off and it's showcased with authentic animations that detail such manoeuvres as open ice hits, checks into the boards and even the occasional flight over the boards onto the players' bench.

Taking advantage of Microsoft's established Xbox Live service, the game offers full support for online play, enabling up to eight players to face off over the Internet. This feature also comes complete with an in-depth stat-tracking system that records all your scores, so that you can look back on your achievements with pride (or possibly shame) and present your hockey skills to the world.

ESPN NHL also comes packed with a host of other features, including customized playoffs that enable you to put together your own playoff bracket, a wealth of playable historic teams and vintage jerseys, as well as the addition of 14 international teams (Go Steelers!). All in all, there's very little lacking from the game and, if you're a hockey fan, it's well worth a look.