NHL Rock The Rink
From the drop of the first puck I was intent on disliking Rock the Rink. I've seen plenty of arcade-style games that amuse me for 10 or 15 minutes, then I'm staring at the ceiling wondering how Hostess gets that white goo into the middle of Ding Dongs. But I was more than pleasantly surprised by the antics of Rock the Rink. The game is fast, and skaters speed up and down the ice at a furious pace. The game isn't timed; instead, the first team to a predetermined number of goals wins. That way you can't morph into Mr. Stall, like my brother's cruel friend who played Blades of Steel against me. As a true hockey fan, there was plenty for me to like. You'll be able to unlock NHL teams in the NHL challenge, and if you topple into the top 10 in different categories (shots in a game, hits in a game, etc.) you'll be awarded with cool features like "crazy shots" which means you can telekinetically (or with your controller) make shots curve and sway. The big checks are cool, too. You'll have a variety of big hits available, and the clutch and grab of this game is ruthless and purposeful. No penalties equals guillotine-attempting checks. I know most hockey fans will avoid this game at first, but playing is believing. It's easier to follow than EA's NHL 2000, and a lot more fun. Who doesn't want to see Chris Pronger in a metal-plated jersey?
Rock the Rink is hockey with an NFL Blitz facelift. A small rink, huge players, and tons of special moves equal fast-paced end-to-end action. The problem is, I can only do so many "corkscrew-tornado-whiplash" moves before I get bored. There's not much depth. Granted, multiplayer is a pretty good time and makes the game worth a rental at least. For the friend-challenged gamer, EA included lots of goodies to unlock in single-player mode.
When it comes to hockey. I'd rather check my opponents and play like a maniac than track stats and trade players. Sims are fine, but RTR is more entertaining (in the same way NFL Biitz is for casual football fans). Head-to-head battles are intense (and fun) but because the frame-rate is so fast, the special moves are just plain silly. In my opinion, RTR isn't in the same league as Blitz (in the gonzo sports genre), but it's definitely worth a look.
This was a bit of a surprise. I'm not used to seeing good, over-the-top sports games from anyone but Midway. EA satisfies by delivering a fast-paced, very easy-to-get-into hockey experience. Rock the Rink is more accessible than Blitz (no play calling to worry about), so it's great for the most casual of casual gamers. The game engine is decent, although it looks quite clunky compared to Midway's pigskin game for the same system.
Download NHL Rock The Rink
This is one wicked slugfest of a hockey game. You know that old joke "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out..." Nowhere is this more appropriate than in Rock the Rink. This newest offering from the folks at EA Sports is an incredible arcade style hockey game. For those of you not used to arcade style sports games here’s a quick run down of what to expect...
The controls are a little on the sloppy side. This means that you can’t expect very realistic skating. The ice physics are a little more forgiving. You can launch the puck though the glass.
The options that you can unlock range from amusing to downright difficult. For example, if you manage to check the opponent at least 100 times in a single game, you get the invisible players mode. This means that all you see of the players is their shadow. Other options include: Small/Big nets, crazy shots (which makes the puck fly around weird when you shoot), and of course Big Heads mode (a stand-by in all arcade sports games).
It’s really important to note the announcers; they will have you in tears they are so funny. Some of my favorite one-liners are: "He rolled him like a cheap burrito," "Way to get your butt kicked in front of the entire stadium," and "Now it’s time for the face-off. Or as I like to call it, the resumption of open hostility."
To start off you can either use one of the special Rock the Rink teams or create your own team. After winning games in the NHL Challenge, you will unlock actual NHL teams to play.
The game types are interesting. You have the standard quick start mode (get a random team and fight, er… I mean play), Arcade mode (which is similar, except you get to select your team), NHL Challenge (where you play against actual NHL team players and unlock the ability to play as them after defeating them -- this is also the mode where you can earn upgrades to increase your teams stats), and King of the Rink (a double elimination tourney for you and you friends).
One interesting addition to the game system is "Bonuses." When you get enough checks, shots on goal, and passes, you get a bonus. For a short period of time, all your players get enhanced stats and sometimes better special moves and dekes (dodge/fake-out).
Certainly using bonuses is a great way to put that puck in the back of the net. But here, like most hockey games, the best way to consistently score, is the One Timer. For you non-hockey fans this is a pass and shoot scenario, which almost exclusively crosses from one side of the crease (goalie net area) to the other.
For those of you who are wondering how line changes work, here’s the scoop: each team has two lines and to simplify things you only switch lines when you have a face-off. This system seems to work really well
The graphics are good. Not stellar, not even impressive, but certainly good. The different hits and shots have interesting animations. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t get tired of them since they are only useful sometimes.
I mentioned the announcers already. But again I must point out, they are so funny they could warrant playing and purchasing the game all by themselves. The in-game music and menu music is brash and in your face, perfect for this game. It’s also pretty catchy, I find myself humming it all too often. Usually when I thinking about how fun it would be to cross-check someone through a wall… :)
With all of the team to unlock, all of the rewards to unlock, and just playing it and having fun, this game will keep you entertained for a long time to come. In the end, if you are a fan of hockey, you must own this.