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Aug. 15, 2001

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page


NHL Hitz 20-02

Black Box Games




Midway returns with another action packed sports game. But will it live up to Blitz and Jam?

Midway has long been known as the leader in arcade-like sport games, and NHL Hitz 20-02 is no exception. With board crashing hits and unstoppable slap shots, NHL Hitz looks to keep your heart racing and your fingers moving to dominate your competition. But, will this arcade-like game do as well as previous Midway games, such as NBA Jam, or NFL Blitz?

All thirty NHL teams will be represented by at least six of their respective 'star' players. At which point you, the player, will choose your favorite three. Yes, that's right, 3-on-3 hockey has returned. Each team's arena will be represented in Midway's hockey game, plus a total of 15 fictional arenas. That's a total of 45 places in which to smack another player with a slap shot upside the head.

As can be expected by any arcade game through Midway, lightning can strike, if you can play with enough intensity to deem your players 'on-fire'. This can be reached by performing big hits, or scoring multiple times. Also, because NHL Hitz 20-02 has an arcade feel, expect to see scores in the double digits. Finally, to add to the high paced action, give your players a little extra speed by using your turbo. Race after loose pucks, or put a little extra hurt on your opponents.

The most unique part of this game is the interactive crowds. For the first time in any sport-related game, the crowd will actually play a part in the game. The fans cheering you on won't be two-dimensional. Based on the action on ice, the fans will react. This will add a lot more depth to the game, as you will be able to see the crowd banging on the glass, throw hats, cheer, or even walk out if it is a bad game. This has never before been seen, because no system has been able to effectively handle this many 3D objects. Hopefully, this will begin to be a common trend in all sport games.

Notice the difference in crowd size. Bad game = no crowd.

One very cool feature of this game is the advanced fighting system. Never before have we seen such in-depth fighting in a game licensed by the NHL. We haven't seen this before, because the NHL would rather not portray their players as blood thirsty, hot headed, large men with blades on their feet. Jack, Steve, and Jeff Hanson should have been in a league like this.

The details in this game are nothing less then impressive. Real player faces and expressions have found their way into this game. So now, you can see the look of astonishment on the Buffalo Sabres goalie's face when you put a 150 MPH slap shot over his shoulder. Also, you will finally see the skate marks on the ice. Commentary will be just as amusing as in past Midway games. How else could you describe game play like this?

There are other features in this game that may come in handy. Create-A-Player will let you design the perfect hockey player. After you finish each game, some post-game trivia will be presented to you. These will cover actual statistics, which will unlock hidden features when answered correctly. Multiplayer will be an option that will pit you against five of your friends. This means up to six people will be able to play at once. How this will work is still unknown. Without Microsoft's broadband gaming network up until sometime next year, it should be safe to say this feature will be incorporated through LAN.

If you're looking for a great arcade hockey game, then look no further. This game will let you play on your own terms. Hit harder, skate faster, and catch fire in NHL Hitz by Midway, and Black Box Games.

Zach VanSomeren
Wonders how many people actually caught the Slap Shot film reference.

NHL Hitz 20-02 Screenshots

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