NHL 2006 review

We go back to the future

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Kicking their heels during the real-life players' strike last season, the NHL 2006 developers clearly entertained themselves by playing their back catalogue.

What they seem to have realised is that - somewhere in the recent years of motion-captured great leaps forward - a lot of the fun had gone out of their ice hockey title.

They must have picked up FIFA, too, because by co-opting that game's right analogue stick trickery, NHL 2006 delivers the most fun sports sim in the whole of the EA Sports canon.

One thing NHL 2006 has wisely done is rediscover the lost art of jiggling. In the days before multi-button joypads, everything from Sensible Soccer to the early NHL games used it.

You'd bear down on the goalie, give the stick a bit of a jiggle to make him dive, then slot the ball/puck home. And so it is with NHL 2006, except that, unlike the tediously reliable jiggling of old, it's not a guaranteed method of scoring, just another part of your arsenal.

And it's some arsenal. Delicate wrist shots, powerful slap shots, and the hardest of all to pull off - skill shots.

Triggered by a quick swivel of the right stick, these are only available to star players, and usually see them pirouetting around and flicking a seemingly impossible shot goalwards. Again, there's no guarantee of success, but it does spice up play.

On defence, the skill stick is even more agreeable - it's used to slam your skater into an opponent. Time it right, and you'll shove them into the boards or down on to the ice, or maybe even smash the Plexiglass.

Naturally, all the usual EA Sports paraphernalia is here, with a massive dynasty mode, stats galore, and excellent presentation.

And the commentary's among the best around, largely because it keeps things simple, reporting what's just happened or name-checking a player.

This feels like the knockabout action that made the NHL games in the first place, but with all the depth and versatility you'd expect from a modern sports sim.

It's this blend of speed, simplicity and sophistication that's put NHL 2006 back among the very best.

More info

DescriptionA blend of speed, simplicity and sophistication that's put NHL 2006 back among the very best
US censor rating"","","",""
UK censor rating"Everyone","Everyone","Everyone","Everyone"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)