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NHL 2002

Developer: EA Sports | Publisher: Electronic Arts
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 09/24/01 | Genre: Sports

I must say, when I played the first installment of the NHL series on the PS2, I thought that it was ok. I thought that they had a lot of room for improvement, but that it was still a solid effort for the first time on the PS2. However, after getting my copy of NHL 2002 for the PS2 and playing it for an extensive period of time, I can say that this is by far the best hockey game that I have played since the genesis days. Allow me to tell you why...

When I first played NHL 2001, I noticed that there was a lot of herky-jerkyness in all of the animations. Not this year, this time around everything moves silky smooth along the ice with few hiccups (slowdown). I was impressed. In this version of the game you do not have the jaggies that accompanied 2001, making it easier on the eyes, but I have a HDTV--so everything is easy on my eyes.

This year the sound is greatly improved over last year's version. The menu soundtrack is excellent, featuring new songs from the Bare Naked Ladies, and the in-game crowd noise is great. It's all dependent on the momentum meter, so if you're the home team and you're kicking some tail, the crowd goes livid and so on.

Another great part of the sound is the announcing. This has got to be the best announcing that I have heard in any sports game. The commentators are quick with the wit and keep track of the stats during the game. I love those guys because you never know what they're going to say next. I only hope that EA keeps those two guys together for the next game.

Man I don't know where to begin with the gameplay of this game. First off let me start with the bad. It seems that once again you are stuck with the defensive duties while the computer controlled teammates do nothing but sit on their hands. I can't tell you how many breakaways I gave up during my first couple of games. Oh, and one more thing. What happened to the rosters? I start off with the stars and find out that Brett Hull is still on the roster... What's up with that???

Now that the negative is out of the way, let's get to the good stuff. Once you figure out what defensive style is good for you and finally start to play, the game is great, yet challenging. The computer defensive AI is stunning, always checking you into the boards and leaving you face first on the ice. The goalies are harder than ever to score on, but every once in a while you just have one of those games where almost anything you put up there goes in. once again the assortment of moves and passes are all there, and the control scheme is flawless. Now for the best part: finally they have a dynasty!!! You can control your team for numerous years, watching your players ratings rise and fall as you try to win the cup year after year.

With all of the changes in NHL 2002 EA only made the game a heck of a lot better unlike their competition, which just seems to slip each year. (You know who you are) It seems like EA's NHL series is king for this year and for many more years to come.

By Antoine Byrd - 08/01/01
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Screenshots for NHL 2002

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