“Are we there yet?”
“No! We just left!”
Released in 2001 by Sega
NHL 2K2 is a better effort than NHL 2K, but it’s still missing a lot of the little things.
Where it falls in the series
It’s the second hockey game on Dreamcast. Damn! Did Dreamcast only have two hockey games?!
It follows NHL 2K. Sega no-showed hockey in 2K1. That’s very un-hockey like, to wuss out like that. So, anyway, this game is two years in the making. The series had better days after moving up to PS2, Xbox, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii. The series finished with NHL 2K11 on Wii.
Well, the game looks a lot better than its predecessor. There are a lot of little details, but most important is that the player animations look more natural. And the “3/4 overhead” camera is nice and steady, a vast improvement over 2K.
The control is improved. It’s easier to make tight turns, and you have much more control with how fast or slow you skate. They added some tricks, like a deke animation and a side-step. They’re not great, but it’s something.
Defense is more intuitive and fun. The controls are easier, it’s easier to tell what’s going on, and the AI is much improved.
The CPU provides a tough gaming challenge on the highest difficulty, which is always nice to have for a solo gaming dork like me … although …
Okay, and now the gripes!
The gameplay is heavier on defense, and goalies are very, very, very, very tough to score on. Now, this isn’t necessarily bad, but consider that offensive players still have the same abilities as they did two years ago, that the game doesn’t arm you with added offensive ability.
The end result is that it’s just hard to score goals in this game. If you go with 5-minute periods, you’ll definitely get a lot of 0-0 games. Even with 10-minute periods I had a lot of 0-0 games. That’s not fun, playing for FORTY MINUTES and it’s a 0-0 tie! What is this, soccer?! I hate to be the wuss who says it’s too hard to score … but it’s too hard to score.
And it’s not just because the goalies are so good … it’s also because you spend a lot of time getting hit, then hitting a guy, then getting hit, then hitting a guy, then getting hit, then hitting a guy, then getting hit, before somehow you get it hell out of there. Does that sound like fun? Well, it isn’t! The puck never seems to squirt away or take a funny bounce, and the AI players are like body checking machines out there, so you get the same sequence of body checks happening all over the ice all the time and it sucks!
And don’t get me started on passing with the goalie. Passing with the goalie is a roll of the dice. For some reason, his piddly attempt at a pass glides like a snail, but your skater has trouble tracking it down! It’s seriously annoying.
The referee gets in the way. I wish I could make this up. The referee gets in the way. The puck hits him twice or three times every game. That’s really, really not the gameplay wrinkle this game needs.
The sound is atrocious! It’s too quiet! It’s like a hockey game is whispering to me! Even a goddamn slapshot hardly makes any sound at all! What the hell?!
Hey, have you noticed that I’ve been yelling in this review? Yeah?! Well, I don’t yell often, I don’t yell at just anything, but I will yell at a SUCKASS HOCKEY VIDEO GAME THAT DOESN’T MAKE A SOUND WHEN YOU TAKE A SLAPSHOT!!!
It’s a downer, because get this … this game actually has one of my favorite features EVER … drumroll … a slider for announcer frequency. Not how loud the announcers are, but how often they talk. Come on, that’s a great little feature. I usually find video game commentary annoying. I almost always turn commentary off on any game I spend time playing, but I still kinda like announcers sometimes. So you tweak the announcer frequency down a bit, it’s like giving the announcer a dose of valium. It’s like saying, “Don’t go away, Mr. Announcer, but don’t wear out your welcome.”