NHL 2003 - Playstation 2 Pre-Played

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Being huge hockey fans, we were excited about playing the latest in the long line of EA’s NHL series--but we must admit to being a little disappointed with this latest offering, as NHL 2003 in all truth is NHL 2002 plus a few shiny bits. The new features for 2003 are an improved franchise mode that has more of the hard-core managerial events to deal with, such as annual drafts, player waivers, more injuries and suspensions, and more Easter eggs and celebrations to unlock with the NHL cards rewards system. One major gameplay change has been added: the Gamebreaker is simply a power bar that slowly energizes as you play, and once it's full a quick button press will allow you to pull off some pretty funky moves. Also improved are the in-game physics--the puck now rebounds off defenders and sticks with more realism. Our main criticisms (and perhaps this is nit-picking) are that the overly comic commentators have really dumbed the game down and that there are too many Matrix-style, slow-motion effects.

NHL 2003 plays fantastically and is one of the finest sports games to grace TV screens anywhere. The presentation is top-notch, and most of the stats are up-to-date (although yet again many of the minor international squads still have imaginary players). But the new tweaks aren't really enough to justify shelling out full price if you already own last year's version--a lesson we hoped EA had learned after finally getting FIFA right this time. If you’re an NHL completist or a hockey fan, or have never played NHL before, then we recommend this game over any other. If you’ve already got NHL 2002 then you can do without this version's new features.

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