Title  : NHL Faceoff 2000
Platforms  : Sony PlayStation
Publisher  : 989 Sports
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 8.5
Review by  : Joe Talladira

If there's one thing Sony knows how to do right, it's sports games. 989
Sports, a wholly-owned division of Sony, worked these last twelve months
to bring us an updated version of their popular NHL FaceOff franchise.
The result is a game that will put a serious dent into EA Sports' NHL '99
sales.

The action in NHL FaceOff '99, just like in the NHL, is fast and furious.
In fact, if you play with the default settings you may find it a little
too fast. Thankfully, there's an option to adjust the game speed with a
meter from 0 to 100, 50 being the default.

There are several game modes: Quick Start – play an exhibition game
quickly without having to set up the game; Exhibition – a regular game
where results aren't recorded; Season – play through the entire NHL
season with one or more human-controlled teams; and Playoffs, where you
skip the formalities of the season and go straight for Lord Stanley's
Cup. Other options let you create your own player, release those that
aren't performing and sign free agents – all par for the course.

Once you're done tinkering with the deluge of options at your disposal
and finally hit the ice, you will begin to notice the quality of the
graphics. They are very smooth and well animated, at least for a
PlayStation game. There are plenty of motion-captured animations moving
at a brisk frame rate, something I can't say about the competition. It's
great watching two players collide into the boards and having the glass
shake or diving head-first to stop a shot. Equally impressive is the
Dual Shock controller support – this game will leave you numb!

Crowd chants, slap-shots and body checks are all accompanied by some good
quality sound effects. Music during stoppages of play echoes just right,
giving the feeling that you're right there in the arena. Lastly, the
play-by-play and color commentary by Mike Emrick and Darren Pang is
excellent, adding some flavor to the on-ice action.

But being the diehard hockey fan I am, it's the gameplay elements that
interest me the most. NHL FaceOff '99, while far from perfect, delivers
some of the most realistic hockey action on PlayStation. There are
varying degrees of difficulty to keep players of all skill levels
challenged and lots of moves like drop-passes, redirections and
one-timers to keep the game interesting. Skating, shooting, and body
checks are all flawlessly executed, but puck physics could use some
improvement and artificial intelligence made a little more interesting.
Things to keep in mind for next year's version.

All in all, NHL FaceOff '99 will impress almost anyone looking for a
solid hockey simulation. It also makes for a great multiplayer game if
you throw in the Sony multitap, a few extra controllers and some friends.
I have always been a harsh critic of 32-bit hockey games, but this is one
title I can see myself playing for quite some time – at least until next
year's version, anyway.


This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2000, 2011 by Joe Talladira. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 19-Oct-98