Gretzky NHL 2005
Given the current NHL lockout, it seems almost appropriate that Wayne Gretzky ' who is, perhaps, the greatest player to the play the coolest game on earth - is starring in a hockey game despite being retired for the past five years. It's almost appropriate, too, that Gretzky NHL 2005 offers up the same type of hockey that was featured in videogames during the Great One's golden career during the SNES and Genesis era, and that may be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.
Gretzky NHL 2005 has an obvious arcade feel to it, and in terms of physics and speed of play, it seems to hearken back to the days of old school hockey titles. The game is fast-paced, and in some ways, pretty mindless. There's not a strong emphasis on working out a strong strategy, and you can get away with a lot of blatant sticking and checking penalties, which takes away a lot the game's general realism.
Additionally, Gretzky NHL 2005 also has a rather long dirty laundry list. Face-offs, for one, feel clumsy, and so do the mundane fighting mechanics (which, fortunately, don't occur all that often). Goalie AI is sometimes suspect - there were a few times where I snapped off a wrist shot, only to have the goalie not react at all ' and the defense's AI isn't much better. Matches often just turn into breakaway-fests since the defense is so inept at attending to their duties.
You know what, though: I didn't mind that all that much. Gretzky NHL 2005 is still fun despite it's obvious flaws. It's an offensive-minded game, but there's nothing wrong with that. It certainly doesn't match the realism offered up in, say, ESPN NHL2K5, but Gretzky NHL 2005 is enjoyable in its own old-school kind of way.
Gretzky NHL 2005 isn't too stunning visually, but it does have its better moments. Players are rendered well and animation is fluid for the most part (goalies sometime look a little jerky). Likewise, the play-by-play commentary is serviceable, if it does seem obviously canned, and the on-ice audio is nice too.
And hey, it has Wayne Gretzky. Everyone loves Wayne Gretzky, right? For you fans out there, there's a little something special included: he's the instructor in the tutorials (though he's not the most charismatic fellow), and you, of course, can play as the Great One himself in a few different modes.
Gretzky NHL 2005 is not necessarily bad, but it's not all together good ' it's really just serviceable. It's hard to confidently recommend when there's a much better alternative out there at a much better price point (ESPN NHL 2K5 for $20 bucks), and unfortunately, it fails to fill in any niche that other hockey games might have left out. If you want a somewhat mindless hockey game with a nice arcade emphasis, or if you just have an overwhelming passion to give Wayne Gretzky a bit of your cash, then Gretzky NHL 2005 deserves a look ' otherwise, stick with the better contenders on the ice.