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NHL 2K2 Review

Developer: Visual Concepts Publisher: Sega
Release Date: February 14, 2002 Also On: None

The Dreamcast’s final days came quick. The system launched in September of 1999, and by early 2001, just over a year later, the system was being discontinued. NHL 2K2, released in February 2002, was the final Dreamcast release in the United States. For a system so reliant on quality sports titles, it’s fitting that a sports game finishes the final chapter in the Dreamcast’s life.

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Sega Sports delivered a number of top-notch titles for the Dreamcast. NFL 2K-2K2, NBA 2K-2K2, and to a much lesser extent, World Series. NHL 2K2 was the second of the hockey titles from Sega Sports on Dreamcast. NHL 2K suffered from mediocre reviews, which is where 2K2 picks up, resurrecting the franchise.

Where does 2K2 fall when compared to the likes of other hockey titles? Comfortably between an arcade title like Hitz, and a simulation title. There’s a sense of speed at all times, which can be overwhelming for novices, but scoring is kept low by goalies and defense. So while the game isn’t as slow as a hockey game would be in real-life, it’s considerably slower than Hitz, which is fine, because this isn’t an arcade game.

2K2 makes it difficult to beat the goalies, thanks in large part to an AI system that is aware of the offensive team and rarely out of position to make saves. They cover a large area, recover fast, and aren’t afraid to ice the puck if you’re in the way of their teammates. Defenders near the goal will block passes, they’ll steal, and aren’t afraid to play rough.

As a whole, offense in this game is difficult. The computer AI is a challenging opponent that’ll have you on your feet at all times. If you’re not pursuing the puck, they’ll quickly snatch it and head carefully towards your goal. One-timers have been made simpler, and since the defense will steal passes, you’ll be relying on one-timers quite often. Best of all, you have control of where the puck is shot.

Much like the rest of the 2K Sports titles, NHL 2K2 is easy to navigate through the menus. There’s a number of game modes to choose from. Exhibition, Season, Playoffs, Tournament and Quick Start are among them. Exhibition and Quick Start are the fastest ways to get into the action. Tournament lets you select from 4, 8, or 16 teams in a bracket-style tournament. You can even simulate individual games.

NHL 2K2 is one of the smoothest playing Dreamcast titles ever released. I recently gave Crazy Taxi 2 a spin, experiencing occasional lag. None of that will happen in this title. The best part about the graphics, next to the solid framerate, is the fact that nothing seems to have been sacrificed. NHL 2K2 looks like it could have been a current-generation GCN/PS2/Xbox title. The crowds in the stadiums are bland, but that’s the only complaint I have from the graphics.

Being the Dreamcast’s final release, NHL 2K2 is every bit a current-generation hockey title. Dare I say that it could stack up against today’s hockey games? That’s for you to judge, but if you need a hockey title for your dust-covered Dreamcast, pick up NHL 2K2 for the bargain price that you’d find it at now.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide