First Impressions: What's this? A hit? In a Hockey game? I don't believe it!
Hockey! No other sport, in my opinion is as entertaining to see live (except perhaps a WWF event) than a Hockey game. I have witnessed many sports events over the years. Football is better seen on television; otherwise you can't really see what is going on. Basketball, quite frankly, puts me to sleep. Hockey though is fun to watch, and even the adrenaline pumps when your team is rallying for a goal.
Video games are a different ballgame though. With the sports genre hitting home, different developers try to recreate the sport as accurately as possible, but yet add enough fun stuff to keep it interesting. Play-by-play, crowd noise, and even player chatter, all contribute to the feeling that you are watching a game. However, there is a developer called Midway that has apparently taken the meaning of ?sim? out of a sports sim. NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and now NHL Hitz. What's next? Soccer Kickz?
I'm sorry, but I am not that enthused at this title. While it may be fun for a while, in turn, this could be compared to a special effects movie with no plot. Players that score 3 goals in a row become pumped up with lightning bolts from the sky. I guess these guys are supermen or something, because I always thought that lightning would kill someone, not pump them up more. In all fairness, I can see what midway is trying to do here though. Take a very technical sport, like hockey, remove the rules and technical jargon, and make a game that has a lot of the good stuff like checking, scoring and of course, the fights. Not to mention that it is simple enough for a 3 year old to pick up and play. However, their attitude toward the genre leaves many hardcore sports fans like me a little put off. I can't get my friends to play NFL 2K2 because all they know how to play is NFL Blitz. Now that is just sad.
Ok, so maybe I have been a little hard on this game. I apologize. There are some good things about NHL Hitz, and this wouldn't be a good preview on my part if I didn't cover them as well. The crowd is the most interesting one of them. Fans tap the glass, react more to what the game is doing, and perhaps the coolest part about it, is that they will actually get up and walk out on bad games. Like the style of gameplay or not, you have to agree that this is truly a remarkable feature. There is a season mode in this game as well. Though, has anyone actually ever finished a season of NFL Blitz? The fighting engine is pretty well done. Players actually duke it out as opposed to the normal ?stand-there-and-just-punch-faster-than-the-other-guy? way we are used to. This adds some playability to the game, cause we all know that the fights are the reason we go to hockey games.