NHL Hitz Pro
Many of us have come to love Midway's unique style of sport games over the years. The hard hitting, in-your-face gameplay has set Midway apart from its competition in the past but that pure arcade style of gameplay has been sidelined in favor of a more realistic experience. That isn't to say they've completely abandoned all aspects of their previous high intensity game model, but instead tried to meet somewhere in the middle.
Gone are the days of 3-on-3 hockey in small rinks where the hits were extreme and the referees were unnecessary. Now 5-on-5 hockey in normal sized rinks is here and regular NHL rules are enforced. The good news is the fast pace action we have come to expect is still intact as is the head-jarring hits that send players through the glass into the stands. The quantity and type of hits have been reduced however but you may find more emphasis on actual hockey strategies instead of just trying to take out your opponent.
By getting further away from the arcade style of gameplay NHL Hitz Pro also dramatically improves one of the weaker aspects of the series which is the single player gameplay. Although the multiplayer options were some of the best, the single player options were usually short lived. Not so anymore however as the single player modes have a significantly longer shelf life. The closer resemblance to actual NHL hockey adds a layer of depth that was missing as NHL Hitz Pro will now be able to compete better with the more simulation based games on the market.
One area that did remain unscathed is the colorful commentary. The comments are also based more on the events on the ice and help make the game more exciting. In addition, the crowd cheers the home team and boos the away team at appropriate times. Unfortunately, the graphics could have been better but don't distract from the game either. The character models and animations, for instance, look respectable, but isn't the same caliber as other games.
NHL Hitz Pro finds the right balance between arcade and simulation gameplay while still delivering the classic Midway style of hockey and adding more depth to the gameplay. NHL Hitz Pro puts together a complete experience for hockey fans.
Download NHL Hitz Pro
Strap on your helmet and grab your stick, ladies and gentlemen, Midway Sports has just delivered pure hockey goodness for your Xbox. Skating a fine line between arcade and simulation, NHL Hitz Pro continues where last year's game left off, but adds an all-new graphics engine and a bevy of new features that make this year's version a must have.
The first thing you'll notice about this year's game is that the teams are no longer made up of just three skaters (plus the goaltender). Like its football brethren (NFL Blitz Pro), Midway has added a full compliment of players to a side, which means three forwards, two defensemen, and of course the net-minder. Right off the bat, this allows for a much more realistic level of game play.
For all you sim-heads out there, you'll find crisp passing, slap-shots, wristers, blocked shots, manual stick handling, wraparounds, deflections, dekes, rebounds, and one-timers. And just like any decent hockey simulation, your ability to use all of these maneuvers along with sensible game-play strategy is the key to scoring goals and winning games. Not to worry though, the game won't lull you to sleep like some sport sims. The action is always fast and furious and the familiar 'smoke n flames' will let you know who's hot and who's not.
Of course, no Midway sports game would be complete without ferocious 'hitz'? and over-the-top body checks. It's all here my friends and trust me, it's the most fun you'll ever have with a hockey game. Furthermore, the control mechanism is by far the best I've seen and played yet ' lightening quick, smooth and extremely natural. So good in fact that before long, in a sublime sort of way, the controller seems to become an extension of your mind' a rare occurrence even by today's standards. Finally, there's a cool Pick-Up Hockey Mode where you can play at the Local Pond, City Park, or Parking Lot and a fully functioning Franchise Mode, complete with every NHL team, that'll keep you playing for weeks on end.
I haven't played the PS2 version of the game yet, but I can tell ya this, the Xbox version is lookin' mighty purty. The player models and arenas are gorgeous and the animation is super smooth. Likewise the sound effects are awe-inspiring and the commentary is always robust and energetic. No question, the game looks and sounds as good as it plays.
NHL Hitz Pro is a sweet package ' great audio/visuals and tremendous game play. For all you sim fans out there, you still might find the need for a full-fledged hockey simulation in your sports library (and there are a couple of good ones this year). But don't be surprised if you find yourself coming back again and again to NHL Hitz Pro.