NHL Hitz 20-03As the NHL Pre-Season beings and the teams get ready for the real thing, Midway present their latest edition of NHL Hockey, NHL Hitz 20-03. With more stiff competition than last year, find out why Midway heads into the Playoffs with an effort well done. â€œIgnite your game.â€ This is what Midway is encouraging you do you when playing their games. For years now Midway has been lurking around developing games like no other. Theyâ€™ve never been referred to as a deadly force, a developing killer, yet they still keep coming back with quality. I for one have always loved Midway games, and in general, Midway sports. Midway gave me exactly what I was missing in other sports gamesâ€¦an adrenaline rush. Midway sports looked at sports in a different, more physical way that gave there games a complete and unique look that could be found no where else. Why is this so special? Because it gives those kinds of gamers who want their sports more hardcore another chance. Last year, just before the launch of the Xbox, Midway released the first hockey game on the Xbox entitled â€˜NHL Hitz 20-02â€™, a game that changed the look at hockey completely. The game offered a unique styled 3 versus 3 hockey match where there were no rules, but insane checks, fights, and goals. The game was one of the few sports titles available at launch. There was NFL Fever 2002, Tony Hawkâ€™s Pro Skater 2X, but no sign of any other hockey title. That was until December when EA Sports finally released NHL 2002. Up until that time, hockey gamers got a good enough taste of what hockey was Midway style. The game received a pleasant welcome but in some cases fell short. Many preferred EAâ€™s version of hockey more. This time around, Midway has gone all out giving the entire game a totally new, revamped look which completely delivers a hard shot. The game surpasses its predecessor in every way possible. Although itâ€™s not an Xbox exclusive, Midway uses the Xbox hardware very well in creating an excellent hockey atmosphere. Unlike last year, competition will be more stiff as NHL 2003 and NHL 2K3 will be released, but those who appreciate their hockey with â€œhitzâ€ will come back for another great helping. One place where NHL Hitz 20-03 falls apart is the online capabilities. At the moment, Sega is going online with NHL 2K3. Sooner or later, EA is going to realize that Microsoft could use their support on Xbox Live and before you know it, Microsoft will come out with their own hockey title leaving Midway all alone. Although there are no plans for Midway sports going online, itâ€™s something Midway should take into consideration for the future which is not right now. At the moment, Midway is producing a fine lineup of sports titles. NHL Hitz 20-03 is just one of them. Whatâ€™s hockey without hitz? Youâ€™ll soon find out why Midway proves to be a contender. Features: â€¢ Officially licensed by the NHL and the NHLPA and featuring real NHL teams and athletes. â€¢ New Franchise Mode -- Pick teams and equipment to compete for the top ranking in the world. â€¢ New Hockey School Mode with Scotty Bowman -- A tutorial to familiarize players with controls and gameplay mechanics led by the retired Hall of Fame coach and nine-time Stanley Cup champion. â€¢ New Enhanced Season Mode -- In-depth statistic tracking, player drafts and trades, full NHL calendar and playoff tree. â€¢ New Multi-Player Tournament Mode -- Allows up to 16 players to battle it out on the ice and structure their own playoff trees to determine the overall champion. â€¢ New Hockey Shop -- Featuring real NHL equipment from the best manufacturers like The Hockey Company, Easton Sports, ITECH Sports Products Inc., Bauer Nike Hockey, Sherwood Drolet and Louisville Hockey. â€¢ New Mini-Games -- Includes six games with multi-player skill competitions. â€¢ New Motion Capture Animations -- Two-man motion capture animations for more realistic checking. â€¢ New Fantasy Stadiums, Hidden Teams and Players -- More than 120 hidden features to unlock including secret arenas in unique fantasy settings as well as hidden teams, players and jerseys. â€¢ Create-a-Player -- Design the ultimate ice warrior. â€¢ New Color Commentary -- A second sportscaster joins the game to describe all of the outrageous action. â€¢ More than 80 Adjustable Options -- Control details like puck friction, glass brittleness and AI difficulty. â€¢ Exclusive DVD Content -- Featuring an interview with St. Louis Blues defenseman and cover athlete Chris Pronger and on-ice two-man motion capture footage. Gameplay: Hitz is as straightforward as hockey comes, and Midway makes sure that as soon as you pick up the controller, youâ€™ll fit right into the game. The game itself focuses on 3 vs. 3 hockey, (excluding goaltenders) where your objective is simple; do whatever you can to put the puck in the net. Along the way there are dekes, spin moves, and bone-crushing action that would make any coach happy. Because Hitz is a more action/sports title, the gameplay has to accompany the game in a smooth order and Midway puts together a solid delivery. Sitting down and starting the game is very simple. Getting to know the controls is the same story. Just like last year, the controls are tight and responsive and the same controls are in use. The only new addition you notice is that â€˜L Triggerâ€™ isnâ€™t used for speed burst, itâ€™s now used for dumping the puck. When you do come to master the controls, try taking advantage of that and work on faking a shot or one-timers because you will benefit from them down the road. If you found it frustrating or annoying when youâ€™re playerâ€™s â€˜caught on fireâ€™, Midway has come up with a completely better way to set your players ablaze. During a game there are two bars located at the top of the screen right next to the team youâ€™re controlling. By performing devastating hits and dekes your bar will slowly fill up. When the first bar fills up (blue bar), by pressing the â€˜White Button, youâ€™ll set your controlled player on fire. Letting both blue and red bars fill up will enable you to set your entire team on fire. If you happened to not like the on fire feature hereâ€™s a chance to put an end to it by not pressing that white button. But who can resist hockey players burning up the ice? One of the great improvements to NHL Hitz is the AI, which has gotten much better. Play a few games and you will see that goals are harder to come by as you go up on the skill level. Itâ€™s much more harder to have a blowout game and shutoutsâ€¦forget about it! If youâ€™re new to NHL Hitz, itâ€™s best you head straight to the Hockey School. Scotty Bowman will guide you through the basic moves and skills youâ€™ll need to get into the game. They are plenty of mini practices from shooting to defending to hitting. Completing â€œHockey Schoolâ€ will offer you a special reward if you got what it takes to complete it.
Last year, only standard NHL teams and fantasy Midway teams were available for play in NHL Hitz 20-02. This year, Midway has added world teams to the game. If youâ€™re looking for reparations on Canada for defeating the United States in the 2002 Olympic menâ€™s championship, you now have a chance for that sweet revenge. The game really starts off at the new and improved game modes. Seasons, playoffs, tournaments, and franchises are all part of Hitz now. This year, everything has been redone and is fresh. Season mode allows to you choose your favorite team, customize your own season in great detail, and play a full season of hockey. What is unique about the mode is the amount of detail and stats tracking that are now available in the game. The playoff mode will accompany the season mode (if you have happened to make it that far) and is a great sight to see. Itâ€™s great to see Midway add in a season mode instead of building on the Championship Mode that was featured in last yearâ€™s game. The franchise mode in NHL Hitz is by far the superior part of the game. Endless options, lots of creativity and imagination has gone into bringing together a bright and enjoyable franchise mode. Start off by customizing your own team and players. Whatâ€™s really fun is choosing a team name and player name because there are so many to choose from. Team names such as â€œThe Millionairesâ€, â€œThe Houndsâ€, or â€œThe Kingsâ€ will have you looking through the entire list before you find the name that perfectly matches the team youâ€™re about to create. As your team travels around the globe raising team status and ranking, youâ€™ll unlock new regions and teams until you face the NHL. Along the way, unlock bonuses to add to your team and player skill. As if it wouldnâ€™t be enough already, mini games are awaiting action in the main menu. There are a total of six different mini games that will test your skill and patience in different areas such as shooting, stick handling, power, checking ability, skill, and scoring ability. Beating mini game records will unlock more bonus features added to the game. Midway has gone from mediocre to great in the gameplay for NHL Hitz. You can obviously see the effort to fully improve the game in every aspect and direction. Adding and improving the season, playoff, tournament, and franchise modes were an excellent effect to the final game. As usual, the unlockables are outrageous and add to the multiplayer experience. NHL Hitz has gone from arcade/action towards simulation in the past year. Is that good? For some people it is. For NHL Hitz fans, itâ€™s the same game greatly improved. Graphics: As polished and sharp the visuals were in last yearâ€™s version, expect more of the same in this yearâ€™s, except theyâ€™ve gotten a little better. The most impressive part is the new crowd which is the best crowd Iâ€™ve seen in any game ever up to date. The special teams and arenas are a blast as well as explosive with effects. The player models have been greatly improved. Last year, playerâ€™s facial models got old and repetitive on the more unknown players. There were a select few who you could actually recognize. This year, almost every player has a unique facial design that you can make out. Player models are more accurate and less â€˜muscularâ€™. You can see the difference from the puny playerâ€™s body to the mighty tough playerâ€™s. The new crowd in Hitz really gives this game life. Now ten times bigger, the crowd comes together in fine performance with unique animations and actions that support the mood of the game. I like during the intermission or the beginning of a new period where the crowd is doing â€œthe waveâ€. To top it all off, the special effects is the backbone in giving NHL Hitz 20-03 itâ€™s electrifying approach. From the lightning shocks to a player as they light on fire, to the image of a player being sent through the glass by a bone crushing check. Although animations can get repetitive, there are plenty of them to keep you seeing fresh scenes for awhile. Sound: Just like other Midway sports titles, (excluding Redcard Soccer 20-03) the good oleâ€™ announcer we have come to know during the years is back again in action with new comments, quirks, and his funny approach to broadcasting hockey action. Alongside with him is an all-new color commentator, adds a little more spice and flavor to the game. The in-game music in NHL Hitz is more on the Hard Rock/Metal side. Although the music fits the game in ways, there should have been more variety in genres of music that were put into the game. Bands featured in NHL Hitz 20-03: â€¢ Moby â€¢ Incubus â€¢ Powerman 5000 â€¢ Rob Zombie â€¢ Hoobastank â€¢ Drowning Pool â€¢ The Zambonis â€¢ OddManRush â€¢ Zhu Zhu Petal The game sounds are what you would expect in a game like Hitz. Groans from crushing hits, breaking class from playerâ€™s sent through the glass, punches being thrown in fights to the skates on the ice. What is really unique is how the players talk in Hitz 20-03. Whenever a goal is scored, a fight is about to start, or celebrating after a game, playerâ€™s will talk and communicate with each other. Youâ€™ll hear the generic roars and boos from the crowds, but what you hear from them is all repetitive. Reply Value: When it comes to hockey or any other sports title, itâ€™s usually going to take up some time playing. NHL Hitz 20-03 is no different. With the edition of the season, tournament, and franchise mode, youâ€™ll be busy till next year perfecting your game until Hitz 20-04 rolls around. If you want to get full use of this game, you have to put some quality time into it because there is so much to do. The real question is do I buy it? Well, take a look at your options. Midway presents NHL Hitz 20-03. EA Sports presents NHL 2003. Sega Sports presents NHL 2K3. You are presented with three very good choices. The hardcore gamer should go for NHL Hitz. The gamer thatâ€™s more interested in a simulation game should check out the other two but be warned, Hitz 20-03 has changed the look of there game. Donâ€™t be fooled by the hard hitting and action. Overall: This is definitely a solid performance by Midway Sports and for a hockey fan itâ€™s a must check out and I would have to say buy if youâ€™re a die hard fan. For fans of sports itâ€™s worth the try and those who turn their heads away from sports games, itâ€™s worth the rental. Expect the most solid and fun multiplayer experience from Midway and a franchise mode thatâ€™s addictive and cleverly designed. As a more challenging and well presented game, NHL Hitz 20-03 delivers in all areas and aspect of the game and I knew that Midway would bring the best. Youâ€™re given three choices this year. Hitz is one of them. Why not go with a game that has it all, but hides it? --Chris Banovic