Well, well, well. ESPN NHL Hockey. Didn�t
expect much from this. These days, ESPN and NHL go together as well as…freaking, fireworks.
At a gas station. Actually, that sounds kind of awesome. Which is fitting, because…so is this game. So obviously, reviewing this game ten years
later…it�s important to note that, in 2003, ESPN actually acknowledged the existence
of hockey. Today, not so much. That�s what makes this game�s quality so surprising.
That and the fact that it�s a decade-old sports game for the PlayStation 2. And most
of those haven�t aged well. Mario Lemieux doesn�t age. And much like Le Magnifique himself, this
game is smooth, skilled and almost always buries it. ESPN NHL Hockey was released ten
years ago by SEGA, and it�s essentially a follow-up to NHL 2K3. And what a fantastic
follow-up it was. This game was almost unanimously praised at the time of its release, and it
holds up even today. This is still a great PS2 hockey game. So how does it play? Well, if you�re familiar
with EA�s recent NHL games…this one is actually kind of similar. At least, in foundation.
Same camera, similar controls…again, it�s surprising just how well the game still plays.
Skate with the left stick, deke with the right, shoot or pass with a button press…simple,
intuitive stuff. And that makes the game�s complexity all the more enjoyable. See, I was surprised to find that…it�s
really hard to score in this game. Which is to say, you can�t just skate down the ice
and bury it. Unless you�re number 66. You really have to play hockey here. Cycle the
puck, find the open man, set up a one-timer…the game doesn�t really let you get away with
just taking dumb shots. The goalies are actually tough to beat here. And above all else, that�s what I love about
ESPN NHL Hockey. Simple controls with deep hockey gameplay. That�s awesome. And fortunately,
there�s also a ton of modes and features to flesh-out the experience. There�s a franchise
mode, which�keep in mind�has a very 2003 feel, as well as minigames, skill competitio� BOOM. You kidding me? What a backhander . Speaking of which, Gary Thorne and Bill Clement
are on board for commentary, which is a nice touch. And it�s actually really
impressive for 2003. In fact, you could say that for the entire game. ESPN NHL Hockey
is the best PS2 hockey game I�ve ever played, as well as an outstandi� Oh, and he sets up the one-timer! It�s…it�s over, folks. Elvis has just
left the building. It�s ESPN NHL Hockey for PlayStation…soixante