Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My New Way to Waste My Life

I recently assisted a friend with a project he was working on, and in return, he very generously gave me a gift certificate to NHL.com's online store. I in turn converted that gift certificate into NHL 2K6 for the Xbox 360, and last night, I made haste over to my friend Fidel's to try it out.

Expectations were tempered -- I'd heard horrible things about every hockey video game made since about 1996, and Fidel usually speaks of hockey fans with the same disdain one generally reserves for connoisseurs of scat pornography.

You can probably see where this is going: we played for about seven hours straight, with a break to return to a former favorite bar (which is awful -- hard to believe I drank at such a hideously depressing place twice a week for a couple years) and a couple games of video boxing, which is also terrifyingly fun.

But anyway, NHL 2K6. Tomáš Klouček gets a regular spot in the Thrashers' defense rotation, which wins my heart right off. The Avalanche actually score goals, something I haven't seen in real life in, what, a week? (note: written before Dan Hinote scored) It's obviously far more technically advanced than the Sega Genesis games that dominated my college years -- the searchlights that occasionally emanate from the goalies being one example -- but the old instincts came back terrifyingly easily. I had a blast. By the end, Fidel couldn't say anything more than "this is great shit" while occasionally berating Ottawa's forwards.

I also realized that I can hold forth on, say, Tomáš Vokoun's superiority to Ty Conklin with far more authority than I can anything else. And I think any hope for a functioning relationship is shot for the next few months, unless I find a girl who knows the Florida Panthers' lineup inside and out.


Ice Cream Jonsey said...

The last hockey game I liked was NHL 98. Let's go on a magical journey!

NHL '93, Sega Genesis: I got no problem with this one. I think this one had blood. I used to remember the exact year that the games no longer had blood and fights but I swear they remove 15% of your trivia when you try to buy a home. It suffered from "the move" where you would deke right and shoot left. Famous for the inclusion of the '93 Ottawa Senators, which may be the single worst team to ever appear in a video game.

NHL '94, IBM PC: I bought a new computer for this! Fucking fantastic game, and I think it was the first to have one-timers.

NHL '95, IBM PC: A motherfucking roster update and that's pretty much it. First to ship on a CD as the primary means of delivery. Totally insulting. Fuck these guys, there was nothing new added and while I can't remember if there were goalie control in NHL '94, there definitely wasn't in NHL '95.

NHL '96, IBM PC: Goalie control! Also, for the first time, EA moved away from the NES-style dudes and tried some motion capture. Everything looked extremely pixelated, but you could control the goal tenders, which meant that "the move" could be defended against. I should have mentioned that it was in every single version so far and the next one as well.

NHL '97, IBM PC: Yes, it was the first one to go 3D... but you could not control the goalies. "The move" worked. Basically unplayable in human vs human mode, but looked great.

NHL '98, IBM PC: For my money, the best in the series and one of the 15 best games of all-time. Goalie control, 3D graphics, it all came together here.

NHL '99, IBM PC: Hahah, they had a Flyer on the cover and I think it was the first time there was a guy on a team I followed on the cover of a sports game. This game was another roster update at full price, and it's where I bowed out of the series. I own NHL 2000, but it sucked, too. I gave up. I couldn't believe how disappointed I was with this one.

The NHL2Kx series was available on consoles, as you know, and is much, much better. There are some other great hockey games that were of neither series (Face-Off, Wayne Gretzky Hockey, Mutant League Hockey and NES Ice Hockey) but these days, I can't imagine ever risking fifty bucks to try something that EA Sports puked out. They have no idea what they are doing. Shit, you said you got NHL2K6, right Boy am I going to be embarrassed if that's not right in a couple seconds.

gsdgsd13 said...

I'd forgotten just how bad the old Senators (in real life and in EA Sports) were. '93/'94/'95 were my heyday -- there was always the joy of running up the score on my roommate at the time, and then spending the rest of the game trying to get the Blues' least-talented players (might have been Doug Crossman? He or Kelly Chase) to score a goal.

Good times, man. Good times.