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NHL Faceoff 2000 Interview

10/4/99

8) In the past gameplayers have pushed for classic teams--the Islanders and Oilers of the 1980s, the Bruins and Flyers of the 1970s, the Canadiens and Wings of the 1950s. Other games (such as Gameday 2000) have classic teams. Will classic teams be in FaceOff 2000? If not, why not?

    Classic teams is not covered by the NHLPA license. Thus, in order to include the retired players from those classic teams, we would have to obtain a contract with each individual player which would be extremely difficult logistically.

9) FaceOff 99 included international teams. Will there be a tournament mode in which to use them? Will we be able to create new players for these teams?

    NHL FaceOff 2000 will again feature eight international teams. There is no tournament mode for these teams. They can only be used in the exhibition mode. Users can create players and assign them to any NHL team, but not the international squads.

10) The shooting interface in many hockey video games is problematic. Some games (including FaceOff 99) do not dedicate different buttons for wrist shots and slapshots, depending on how long you press the button before releasing it. In most cases the directional stick is used to determine where one aims the shot, although it's also being used to determine the direction in which a player skates, limiting one's ability to aim on the move. Tell us about the shooting interface in FaceOff 2000 and how it will help players have the same choices they would have if they were on the ice.

    The shooting interface in NHL FaceOff 2000 is very intuitive. We have done focus group testing on many aspects of this feature, including the controls. Gamers feel that it is very important to be able to pick the game up and have controls that are easy to manipulate in order to play the game effectively. Whereas you are asking about multiple buttons for different types of shots, the AI understands when you would perform a backhander as opposed to a slap shot. We still use the directional pad to aim the shots in order to give the user full control. We also have different options for different shots on one button. For instance, a slap shot, snap shot and wrist shot are all controlled by one button at any time.

11) The goalies in FaceOff 99 sometimes roamed excessively and gave up bad rebounds, but on the higher difficulty levels approached brick walls, stopping an incredible number of shots. How will the goalies in FaceOff 2000 behave? What improvements have been made?

    The goalies have been completely updated in NHL FaceOff 2000. To improve upon this, and keeping in mind the realism of the game, we tightened up the defense supporting the goalies and made the goalies abilities more realistic. The defense will cut down on the amount of breakaways that the user gets by checking and strategically forcing the user's players wide towards the boards.

12) Every year sports video games boast about their improved artificial intelligence. Publicity for FaceOff 2000 is no exception. Tell us about how the game's AI improves on previous editions--and how will we be able to tell the difference? What specific steps represent upgrades or changes from FaceOff 99?

    See answer to question #2 concerning I.C.E. AI.

13) In both FaceOff 98 and 99 there was a marked difference between difficulty levels--and a rather significant jump from rookie (which most people thought was far too easy, with little threat posed by the slow-moving, shot-adverse CPU-controlled team) to veteran. Has this been tweaked in FaceOff 2000? Tell us about the skill levels and the challenges they present. .

    The difficulty levels in NHL FaceOff 2000 have all been adjusted. The major difference in the difficulty levels is the speed of the gameplay. Thus rookie is the level where the beginner can see the plays and passing lanes develop much easier at a slower pace. On Veteran the user will notice that the pace of the game is faster and the competition is more aggressive. Once the user reaches the All-Star level, they will be challenged by the CPU with a very quick pace of gameplay. Again, the gamer has the ability to speed up or slow down the gameplay manually in the options menu.

14) What bells and whistles are new to FaceOff 2000 that will add to the fun factor in playing the game?

    NHL FaceOff 2000 has different goal horns and end of period buzzers for different arenas, taken from the actual arenas. As mentioned earlier, we have licensed music to help to give the user that arena feel. The auto replay camera work is amazing. It shows off the beautiful player model and arena graphics while giving the user an awesome TV-style presentation.

15) How will FaceOff 2000 incorporate the rule changes made by the NHL during the off-season--especially those concerning the crease and overtime?

    NHL FaceOff 2000 has incorporated the overtime rule change of 4-on-4 gameplay. We have also implemented the new in-the-crease rule, which is based on the referee's judgment as to the player's positioning with the goalie. (Just because the player's foot is in the crease, it does not necessarily mean that it is a violation. In order for this to be an infraction, the goalie needs to have been interfered with in some way).

We would like to thank Jody for answering our questions.



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