NHL Breakaway '99

a game by Sculptured Software

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Sports

See also: NHL Games

And so the mill of Ice hockey games churns on... and on... and on...

Last year's NHL Breakaway '98 had one fundamental difference to this year's outing NHL Breakaway '99. It was set a year ago. This trend for software companies to release their old games under new names is staggering, but considering the amount of cold hard dosh they pull in, who can blame them!

NHL Breakaway '99 features every major league American ice hockey team available in the '98 version, along with a few national squads thrown in for good measure. Every team remains faithful to the real NHL line up and has been updated to correspond with the 1999 stats. There are even mug shots of every NHL player so you can see just who you're shoving up against the reinforced perspex and just who you're playing with! This helps maintain the feeling of realism that Acclaim are striving for, but considering it is one of the very few changes added, is it really worth paying out for? Mmm... we think not!

And on, And On...

Every player is depicted in sumptuous hi-res complete with ice gliding antics akin to Robin Cousins... well, a bit better than that actually. The detail paid to their physical appearance also goes a long way to add the feeling of realism that Acclaim is after. The lineup of usual game modes is also present and correct, so those looking for a touch of practice before entering a friendly, tournament or world championship will gladly find it amongst the user friendly menu system.

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of whether NHL Breakaway '99 is any good though, it has to be said that within the year it has taken to be re-released a few new top-notch ice hockey games have taken its glory. Breakaway no longer seems the silky smooth responsive beast it was with the analogue stick, especially since NHL '99 has proved its worth. Nor does the player animation look anywhere near as impressive as the ultra-realistic movement of NHL '99. In fact, within a mere year, the wrinkles are already starting to show through and if we were to unleash that mean streak of ours we'd have to say it was looking tatty... oops, we said it. The words 'money' and 'old rope' spring to mind.

...And On, And On...

For the plus points. Breakaway still remains the most realistic ice hockey sim around compared to NHL's arcade atmosphere - this doesn't mean it gives the most enjoyment, though. The player editor is superb, dealing with the important aspects of player stats like aggression and marking rather than how much facial hair they have. The crackling of the Tannoy system, alive with ice hockey themes such as Queen's We Will Rock You also gives a dynamic rush of realism to suck you into the middle of the action. It helps, but it doesn't detract from the fact that this is still 1998's version repackaged.

For hardcore fans (and we mean hardcore) Breakaway will appeal due to Its up-to-date accuracy. For anyone else though, they'll feel sorely cheated when they realise it's just a blatant re-release of an already surpassed game.

2nd rating opinion

Not as quick and accessible as the fluid Wayne Gretzky games, but any fan of the real sport will notice some authentic attention to detail. However, that's no reason to part with the necessary cash for a rebadged version of an old hockey title.

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