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     " What the HELL that shot was TOTALLY in the goal you freakiní BASTARDS. "

      Title: NHL Faceoff 2001 by 989 Studios

      Format: Hockey game for PS2

      Reviewing Monkey: Simi N.

      The Hype: All 30 NHL teams and players, Multiple play modes, intense NHL action & realism, Authentic NHL commentary.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Maybe Iím getting a bit too picky in my old age (I doubt it), but I really expected more from this game than I got. I have played plenty of PS2 games so far, so I have a general idea as to what I can expect developers to come up with at this point. The people at 989 did not live up to the standards. This game looks as if it was originally designed for the PSX and then was simply touched up a bit and ported over to the PS2. The player models have a decidedly low polygon count for a PS2 game, and the crowd is really no better than those in games on the PSX are. There are some touches though, like the reflections in the glass, and the way that it shakes when someone gets a good hard check into a wall, that make the game that much more interesting. But overall the game is decidedly sub-par. 3 out of 5

      Sound: This game will constantly bring to mind the question: did I hit the mute button? For some reason (possibly a result of load times) there is a heck of a lot of silence in this game. Every time thereís a face off there is a shot of the crowd, or the rink, and each time there is an absence of noise for about two seconds before music kicks in. Its makes the game feel very awkward. Another gripe about the sound is that at many times the announcers get way behind the plays. If you are taking a lot of shots on the goal one after another, it is not uncommon for the announcers to get three or four plays behind the action. Anyway the rest of the sound is pretty good. As always my favorite is the sound of a good hard body-check into the wall and this game made it crunchy, just the way I like it. Also in this game the sound of the skates is especially good and I love the way that the clink sound when a puck hits the goal posts is especially crisp. 3 out of 5

      Game Play: The action is fast and you donít really have too much time to think except to say, "What the HELL that shot was TOTALLY in the goal you freakiní BASTARDS." At least thatís what I think most of the time. But even though it is aggravating, the game is totally fun. It plays pretty much just like all the other hockey games, but this one has my new favorite feature (which Iím sure isnít actually new): Icon passing! Donít you hate it when youíre skating towards the goal, and you try to pass to the guy on the left, but because your skating up, you forget to move the analog stick so you end up passing to the wall? Well now you donítí have to worry about that, just press the button corresponding to the player you want to pass to and youíll pass that way no questions. This helps greatly to ease the frustration that missed passes can bring. 4.5 out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: Not much to talk about here each level is a hockey arena with a pretty generic feel. Also the surroundings and even the graphics for the ice are not very special looking (yes they should be special on the PS2). The crowds are definitely lacking (just more motionless 2-D sprites). I have come to expect more ever since SSX. 2 out of 5

      Multiplayer: "Eight player mayhem," could a more beautiful phrase ever be applied to a video game? I donítí think so. Whether you want to play with a buddy, or want to pit your gang against a rival this game lets you do whatever you want, as long as you have the equipment and enough friends. There isnít, in my humble opinion, a better sports game to play with four or more people than Hockey. This game is no exception. It is easy to pick who gets to be on what team, and the game runs just as fast as normal. You and your pals will spend hours cursing at each other, spilling drinks, and throwing food before youíre done with this game. 5 out of 5

      Replayability: You can go ahead and carbon copy the above paragraph down here, and add in that it is almost as fun to play in one player mode as it is to play in two player mode. Only the hardcore fans will want to beat the game in season mode more than once (way too many matches), but plenty of people will want to play a quick game from time to time. Add to that the multiplayer ability and youíve got some damn good replay value. 4.5 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: No story, no rating.

      Instructions and Learning Curve: The gameplay is really pretty straightforward. There arenít a whole lot of button combinations to remember. The manual gives a good quick-start guide, and then goes into full detail about what you need to know to enjoy the game. You should be able to play reasonably well within 2 to5 minutes after peeling off the packaging. You canít ask for better than that. 4.5 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: This game is only lightly hampered by load times. You will notice them the first couple of times you play, but after that they shouldnít bother you. It doesnít take up too much space on your memory card (108 - 303 kb). And, of course it supports the multi-tap. It doesnít, however, use the Dual Shock 2 controller to its full extent, i.e. none of the buttonsí analog function is utilized. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       This game is definitely fun, but the graphics and sound leave much to be desired. If you like hockey you will want to give this game a shot, but you should try its competition before buying.

      The Good: This game is fast, simple, and supports up to eight players.

      The Bad: The graphics arenít all that great, season mode is too long, there are a bunch of moments of awkward silence, and the announcersí tend to fall behind the action.

      The Overall Ugly: This game doesnít utilize the PS2 to its so-far discovered capabilities. There are just a few too many aspects of this game that make it feel like if the programmers had spent a little more time on it, it could have been a lot better.

      What it's Worth: I think this game is worth about $30 to $40.

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