Search For Posters!
  Join the SGN staff!
Help Wanted
Release Dates


About Us

The Sports

Partner Links
Auto Insurance Quote
Irvine Moving Companies
LA Moving Companies
Brand Name Shoes

NHL 2001 (PS2) Review

Publisher: EA Sports

Background Info

PS2 Screens (12)
The first snow has fallen, the Sony PlayStation 2 has finally become a reality, and EA brings their hockey mainstay, NHL 2001, to anxious gamers. On the PS2, can EA recapture some of the magic lost with it somewhat disappointing NHL 2001 release on the original PlayStation? That title bore more resemblance to their Rock the Rink title than traditional hockey.

On the surface, you can certainly say that EA departed from the foundation of the PlayStation version. Instead, NHL 2001 on the PS2 has loads of options that will suit nearly every gamer out there. Even though it lacks a franchise, or even a multi-season, mode, it more than makes up for it with entertaining gameplay. In addition, this two-player treat brings on the animations as you skate up and down the rink with all of today's NHL players and teams, including the recent expansion teams.

Presentation/Graphics : 82
Hockey on next generation consoles has been around for some time now. The excellent NHL2K for the Sega Dreamcast could drop a jaw on the spot at the time it was released. Expecting no less from EA's NHL 2001, I was itchy to try out this hockey title. From the drop of the first puck, I took note that this game does look nice, though not leaps or bounds beyond my current favorite hockey simulation. In fact, in many respects NHL 2001 is poorer graphically than its competition on the older Dreamcast hardware.

NHL 2001 opens up well enough. Prior to the players hitting the ice, you see a television style shot of the tunnel, complete with players barreling out of the locker room. The character models are exceptional. Facial features are almost lifelike. Hockey fans will easily distinguish players by their faces alone. Prior to the face off, the graphics are equally stunning. The uniforms have intricate detail, as visors reflect light, players appear folded as players bend, and sticks have legible writing on them. So far so good.

Once the puck drops, you realize all the flash of the animations goes by the wayside. The graphics deteriorate to typical hockey fare. While the players still look clear, they lack the beauty of their up-close counterparts. By comparison, the player models during play in NHL2K are more soothing and appealing to the eye than those in NHL 2001. Animation sequences are numerous, and there are some fancy animations such as back-handed passes and incredible goalie saves. However, the animations lack fluidity.

When I first started playing NHL 2001, I was immediately frustrated by the camera views. I love to play with a side-to-side camera, which is available in the game. However, switching to this view shows player models that seem disproportionately smaller compared to the rink. Further, I had difficult picking up the puck location and telling players apart. I feverishly cycled through the camera views, some of which were completely useless (such as a blimp style camera, complete with little ant-sized players) and others that were slightly better. I settled on the classic camera view, which follows the action up-and-down the ice rather than side-to-side. For the most part, the view provides a decent glimpse of the players and animations. The only negative to this view is that you can't view the entire width of the rink, meaning you have to make blind passes at times.

Prior to receiving the game, I had heard reports about slowdown. While I have noticed some slowdown, by no means does it affect the play. It occurs rarely, and when it does, its impact is so negligible it's worth mentioning only to counter the reputation it seems to have started with the title.

Presentation/Audio : 82
NHL 2001 has a nice sound package. The play-by-play stays on top of the action, and not once did I feel a need to turn it off. Likewise, the sounds of the crowd rise and fall as the game develops. You can almost close your eyes and pretend you're at a live NHL event. The only things keeping you from this sensation are a few over-the-top hockey sounds. The EA programmers certainly recycled some of the sounds from the NHL Rock the Rink title. Slap shots can sound a little extreme, and body checks also have a Rock the Rink-esque sound to them.

Interface/Options : 87
The menu system in NHL 2001 is a dream. Getting from one menu to the next occurs quickly. The main menu gives you the option to play a quick game, change some game settings, and access the "advanced" modes. The advanced modes include season, playoff, tournament, and shootout. There is no franchise mode in the game, which is unfortunate. While the PlayStation version did not have a thorough franchise mode, it was there nonetheless.

The game shines in the area of options. I was critical of the PlayStation version of the game due to its quick play. That game even had pucks that would slide for what seemed like eternity. In the PS2 version, you can change everything from the game's pace to puck features. That's right! You can change the elasticity of the puck (whether it comes off the stick like a bat out of hell or, well, a dead bat) as well as the friction of the rink surface. Likewise, you can increase or decrease parameters such as penalties, player aggression, how fast players get up after hits, and how much pucks deflect off goalies. These options and more put an instant smile on my face. You and I both can custom tailor the game to our liking. You'll have to play with the settings somewhat, since the manual tends to bypass most of them.

The statistical model in NHL 2001 appears to reflect realistic hockey action. Using 5 minute periods, league-wide stats in scoring are plausible. Traditional scoring players score well in the game, while defensemen languish in the bottom ranks of the scoring leaders. Where the stats take a nosedive is during select games. Depending on how you initialize the game settings, penalties, injuries, and more don't mimic actual hockey. Also, the choice of teams and skill level (beginner, rookie, pro, and all-pro) causes the outcome of the stats to change wildly.

Gameplay : 85
I wasn't sure what to expect with the PS2 version of NHL 2001. On the one hand, NHL 2001 on the PlayStation was a letdown. It borrowed too much from the arcade title Rock the Rink. While I love RTR, its style of play does not fit with traditional hockey. On the other hand, there was the hope that the PS2 version would resemble the PC version with an incredible number of options. Fortunately PS2 owners and sports fan have struck gold with the latter.

While I still hold NHL2K on the Dreamcast as my hockey simulation title of choice on consoles, NHL 2001 has edged its way into my heart. It tops the list of pseudo-sim titles on the market. The first few games I was ready to give up on the title. I kept telling myself that the game was a lousy sim. There are some definite holes in the game. The lack of drop passes and the inability to realistically lie down on the ice to block a shot were high on my list of features missing. Furthermore, on offense the player you control can quickly move down the ice unobstructed using the fast spin left and right moves (the L1/R1 buttons). NHL 2001 even has the "deke" move, which would never make its way into a serious sim title.

On defense, the checking is primitive. Using the O button, you can lay a nasty body check on your opponent. The checks are extreme and can be levied when you are barely moving. I was expecting momentum based body checks (again, as in NHL2K) but instead got arcade style checks. Poke checks are in the game but are not terribly effective. Even the fighting is a joke. Fights are done quickly. The skaters throw lightning fast punches that look plain goofy.

With so many problems, how can I like it? Well, I realized I shouldn't look at this game as a sim but rather an arcade style hockey title with sim components, much like the FIFA series. The fact that I could cut the speed of the game down to nearly a realistic pace did wonders. Furthermore, the defensive AI is not overly aggressive. While the AI defense will challenge your puckholder, you can move the puck around in your opponent's zone. I'd have nice stretches where I'd move the puck around the blue line, dump it in, pass across the crease, etc. I could set a parameter controlling passing effectiveness to increase or decrease the number of intercepted passes. The AI teams have a tendency to rush attacks, but if you can get back into your end, you'll find an AI that makes a few passes before taking a shot. Of course, getting back can be a challenge at times. Your CPU controlled teammates tend to rush the puck and may actually over-skate your opponent.

I found goal scoring to be hit and miss. Depending on the strength of the opposing team's goalie, goals came fast and furious or few and far between. One-timers continue to be the most effective scoring method, though I have also score from the point and off rebounds. Using the Red Wings, Chris Osgood does a fantastic job for me in the net. Goals scored against him were usually due to some inept play by me up front.

Replay Value : 82
On the whole, I am enjoying NHL 2001 for the PlayStation 2. I'm still early in my first (and only) season of the game. It's too bad a multi-year franchise mode was left out. It would have substantially increased the replay value of the title. However, just the included modes make the game one to try out. While it's not a total arcade or simulation title, it has components of both genres. The arcade side draws you in with some addictive play. The simulation side is apparent in the overall play. The game of hockey is well represented in the game. And even though scoring tends to be easy at times, I had plenty of fun both winning and losing. And to me, it's all about fun.

Overall : 85
This is not a complete hockey sim. Repeat. This is not a complete hockey sim. It is instead a fun hockey game with both sim and arcade components. While the graphics aren't as good as I expected from this PS2 title, they are still a huge jump up for PlayStation owners. The reported slowdown hardly detracts from enjoying the game. Hard-nosed sim fans will quickly dismiss the title. The lack of key hockey features may seem like a travesty. But for the others out there, don't be surprised if you get hooked on playing this game.

By: James Smith 12/7/00

Related Link: NHL 2001 PC Review

© 1998-2006 Sports Gaming Network. Entire legal statement. Feedback

Other Links:
[Free Credit Report  |   Car Insurance Quotes  |   Designer Shoes  |   Outdoor Equipment

MVP Baseball 2003
Street Hoops
Mad Catz Xbox Hardware

Inside Pitch 2003
MLB Slugfest 20-04
Tennis Masters Series



[an error occurred while processing the directive]