NHL 2003

NHL 2003 gets less real.

Somewhere along the line, the EA Sports command authority decided that this series needed dumbing down. Breakaway cams (with heavy-heartbeat overlay), fancy dekes, and close-up cinematic animations replaced investment in basics like, oh, say…AI. The result was high console sales, and nearly zero realism.

7_1The problem with NHL 2003 is that it’s fun, but it just ain’t hockey. It’s fun the way a game of slot hockey is fun. No matter what difficulty setting, no matter what teams you play, there are never more than two things to keep in mind while playing this game. On offense, charge in a straight line toward the opposing net and attempt a one-timer pass when you reach the slot area. On defense, take control of a defenseman (since they’ll go AWOL otherwise) and try to pre-emptively smash down one of the bad guys standing unmolested in front of your goalie. That’s it — that’s the whole ballgame!

Follow those two prescriptions, and you ought to win every single game. My shooting percentage is around 75 percent on one-timers, and I can almost literally score at will at even the toughest difficulty settings. This NHL’s just isn’t that interesting if you want realism with your virtual hockey. Blame Canada.

System Requirements: Pentium 300 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Win98

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