Everybody loves sports. Either you play a sport physically, watch it on television or virtually by playing videogames. I’m more the virtual type of sport player who wants to test all kind of sports without being active at all. As a gamer you should know that there are lots of sports games available on the market, whether it’s football, golf, tennis, basketball or even fishing. In this review I’m going to take a look at the ESPN NHL 2K5 game. Ice-skates on your feet and ready for some fractures and bruises? Thank goodness, it’s only a virtual game.
Year after year newer versions of sports games will be released on the market and it’s a challenge for the developer to make reasonable changes and improvements compared to the earlier released sports game. Regarding to ESPN NHL 2K5 you’ll notice that some of the gaming elements have been improved but it isn’t much. Let’s take a look at the games menu. It contains the usual game modes plus a new “Skybox” option. This will shows you an overview of achieved prizes. The usual game modes contain a quick play, go for the play-offs or start a complete NHL season. If you start a complete season you’re not only going to be a ice hockey player, oh no you’re also going to be in charge as a coach or manager and bring Minor League players into the “real” world. This is another change compared to the previous NHL games. But ESPN NHL 2K5 stands for a quality game play and that’s the most appreciated part by the gamers. They don’t care that much about the extra options; these are a matter of minor importance.
As soon as you hop onto the ice you’ll be surprised about the graphics and the actions. Graphically it’s a very good game and the characters act like real people. The developers tried to let the players look realistic but it’s not that good compared to NHL 2005 (EA). Some players were scanned to get the best possible result but this has only been done for a couple of them. What I also noticed was that the players had some huge backs. I know that the suits are already making the player look bigger, but I got the impression that it was overdone. Anyway with lots of different moves to make you’ll be able to become one of the scariest and best ice hockey players. I cannot state best looking ice hockey player as it is not possible to change or create your character. NHL 2K5 tried to make the game as realistic as possible, expect a lot of ESPN input like many logo’s in the ice hockey arena’s, a diverted crowd cheering for their favorite team and the reflection of the ice hockey players on the ice is all been made to increase the reality atmosphere.
The strength of ESPN NHL 2K4 was the game play, no discussion possible. And if it’s good, it can only get better, the developers must have thought. You can choose between different kinds of game modes like party, dream team, franchise, skybox and skills. On the ice there is a huge selection of new and old moves. For example, when you’re on advanced controls you can hold L1 and O to go around the goal and then release O to shoot. When you mastered this move you will see your goals go up. Another feature that deserves some more attention is the skybox mode where you can buy alternate jerseys, logos, teams and rinks using tokens that you received for accomplishing various goals in the game such as “score 3 goals in one period”. If you want to play a “normal” game of ice hockey I suggest choosing the Season mode. If you have some friends over you better choose the party mode. With a maximum of 4 gamers you’ll be able to play a fun match. If you haven’t got 4 friends no worries, the game shall pick their own AI characters to complete the maximum players needed.
With most games I would say it’s not a problem if you are having hearing difficulties but not with sports game. This is because of the cheering fans standing beside the field, motivating you to do even better. Also the commentators are doing a great job by providing many different kind of phrases which could help from time to time to improve your actions. The better your moves, the more the crowd will go nuts in the stadium. Maybe a shame if you cannot hear it but due to the great game play I still can recommend it to deaf gamers.
ESPN NHL 2k5 is one of the best ice hockey games ever played. The controlling is superb, graphics are cool and the game play is excellent and runs fluently. Enough game play modes are available to keep you busy for hours. ESPN NHL 2K5 achievements are related to atmosphere, the realistic approach and the party mode to compensate the non online possibility. It’s a shame that European gamers don’t get the change to play the game online (Xbox, PS2) to increase the game play enjoyment even longer.
Review by Wencke
Thumb Bandits European Correspondent & manager of GGU.