Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2
|a game by||Bethesda Softworks|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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The main problem with Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2, a theoretically enhanced version of Bethesda Softworks' award-winning Wayne Gretzky Hockey, is obvious to canny software purchasers. The back of the box displays two playfield shots: a close-up screen of a skater winding up for a slapshot and a view of a fight up on the arena's big screen. But where is there a photograph of an actual playscreen? Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2 is definitely a mixed bag. On the plus side, the game is loaded with marvelous, innovative and downright inspired features. Each on-ice player is rated in no fewer than 11 skill areas, including skating, puck-handling and aggression.
Virtually every element of the game offers modular fine-tuning, from game speed and difficulty level settings to period length, in addition to such extras as user-controlled instant replay! The design employs the classic Gamestar and SportTime mix of action and strategy with a satisfying complement of user options. The gamer can control on-ice players while Number 99 does the computerized coaching, or he can play and coach or simply coach. Team strategy is stylized through a series of sophisticated menus, and hardcore hockey fans will probably enjoy this game strictly on a coaching level more than any previous hockey simulation.
Now the downside: The basic game setup screen is a confusing mess, and the badly written documentation only makes things worse. There seem to be only two pro teams available, the Bruins and Canadians, and the players on these teams are all-time greats.
The game's fatal flaw is its poor game play graphics. WGH2 runs in a top-down mode, using tiny figures zipping about at high speed (even on a 12 MHz machine) like roaches dancing the midnight shuffle when the lights come on. Add to that the fact that almost no use is made of color, resulting in team uniforms that are virtually indistinguishable from one another. You then have a game that's simply too confusing to follow.
The strategic innovations and multiple options are marvelous, but they must connect with a playable game for those values to be realized. And that's too bad, because this one could have been a classic.