Nov 1, 2007
Buttons are so last year in hockey games. The thumbstick is your stick, if you see what we mean. The right thumbstick, to be exact. It apes your actual hockey stick, in the same way that EA Sports' Tiger Woods games have the right stick controlling your golf club. It means that your every twitch is translated out onto the ice; passes must be pinpoint-accurate, and even the way you shape to shoot can help fool the 'keeper.
And you'll need to fool the 'keeper in order to rustle the net, because he is very sharp indeed. It'll take you a good while to figure out a way to get the scoreboard ticking over, since most of time you'll see your puck bouncing harmlessly off the net-minder's pads. The game needs to be played at a lightning pace, with passes criss-crossing this way and that over the ice so that defenders are left spinning. Of course, this will have more of an effect when you're playing a mate, but the AI-controlled players are good enough as they are.
For all its fluid play, there are times when the spell is broken and your players are annoyingly left on their asses by the slightest contact. You could be just about to smack a first-time shot goalwards, only to find the puck being carried towards your end thanks to a player brushing past you. It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does, the integrity of the screen in front of you is threatened.