Economy of Effort

Twitter LinkedIn GitHub Mail RSS

Nhl 06: A Wretched Game

I feel sorry for hockey video game fans that only have PCs.

I played some NHL 06 on my laptop today, to give the game a try. I used to be a big fan of EA’s NHL game on PCs around 2000-2001, and on the Super NES console before that. But recently, I have been playing Visual Concepts' NHL2K game on the Xbox, as it has been the superior game.

That sure didn’t change this year.

EA’s NHL 06 is, in a word, intolerable. The game has regressed to the point of not being worth playing anymore. The biggest problem? Physics. The skating and puck physics are more horrible than I can put into words. The puck just “snaps” from destination to destination, as if it’s just warping. Even if you turn pass assist all the way down, it will still just snap from stick to stick at physically impossible speeds. The skating is just as bad. There’s no smooth, gliding physics to it. Instead, it’s very jittery, and players just kind of skitter about. There’s no grace, or even a good sense of speed. Players kind of get “sucked” into collision animations. The gameplay is just flat out a waste of time. I thought at first that maybe it was just the default settings that were the problem, and all it needed was some slider tweaking. Nope! The slider options are very bare-bones and even on their extreme settings, they make very little difference.

But the graphics are pretty. Oh, are they pretty. Hopefully the NHL2K games start to look like that on the Xbox 360. There’s a lot of great little touches to the game, which makes the broken state of the core game all the more tragic.

It amazes me just how terrible the EA NHL games have gotten. It’s like nobody developing them has ever seen a hockey game, and are working solely by rough description.

Don’t ever play it.