Error SQL: select * from access_stats_201607 where id='39' and section='reviews'

Error SQL: insert into access_stats_201607 (id,hits,title,section,date_entered) values('39','1','NHL 99','reviews','1998-09-20 09:46:43')

Game Over Online ~ NHL 99

GameOver Game Reviews - NHL 99 (c) EA Sports, Reviewed by - Jove / Jube /

Game & Publisher NHL 99 (c) EA Sports
System Requirements P166, 16MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 88%
Date Published Sunday, September 20th, 1998 at 09:46 AM


Divider Left By: Jove Divider Right

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article about FKrueger in no way reflect the views of the rest of the Game-Over staff.)

Electronic Arts is famous for its line of sports titles that have set the standards for sports games for several years. The most prestigious title from EA sports is its NHL 9X line of games which can be counted on to deliver state of the art graphics, gameplay and sound along with plenty of extras, which some skeptics may regard as fluff. The NHL series is so well made that even people who do not enjoy watching NHL much (myself included) adore playing this game (it even made me a fan of hockey: not an easy task). Many game players and critics see the release of new sports games every year as a ploy by game companies to increase profits by merely adding new rosters and a few engine tweaks, and unfortunately there is a large element of truth in this. Luckily this year's Hockey entry by EA sports, NHL 99, continues the trend of the series and introduces plenty of new options, gameplay refinements and graphics to make it a worthy sequel to NHL 98.

The graphics in NHL 99 are unparalleled by any hockey game so far; hell, they are unparalleled by any sports game, even blowing NHL 98 off the ice. Support for Voodoo and Voodoo2 processors as well as most other 3D accelerators is built into the game. NHL 99 employs such effects as dynamic lighting, rink reflections, anti-aliasing, 16-bit colour, support for resolutions of 1024x768 and much more. The polygon players are much more realistic compared to NHL 98's, with faces looking less plastered and body movements being more fluid. In fact, I found the game much more fun to play using the "classic camera" which shows a close up view of the action. For those who saw the pre-release screenshot of the goalie through the back of the net and said, "this can't be a real in-game shot, it must be doctored", well it is real, and it looks even better in action. There is the occasional moment where a player moves his neck in a most unnatural manner, which I find much too annoying and ridiculous. EA could have at least realized how stupid it looks and fixed it, but it's a minor detail and overall it's unimportant. The other graphical flaw I noticed was the large amount of clipping that occurred in replay shots. Come on guys, learn to move your cameras properly; you've been doing this for years! Despite these two faults, NHL 99 has the most unbelievable graphics of any sports game I've seen and If they disappoint you I'll give you a free Voodoo2 card (Well I won't really, but it's fun to say).

Electronic Arts is known for its superb sound effects in its EA Sports line of games, and NHL 99 does not fall short in this category. Sound effects, such as skates moving across the ice, slap shots blasting past the goalie and fans roaring in approval are more realistic than ever and are rendered in full stereo (and pro-logic if you have speakers which support this). I wish that there was support for A3D sound, since I have a card with the Vortex chipset, but alas there is none. This is not a big problem however and the pro-logic is done well. Play by play is again too good to be true following the tradition of NHL 98 with its unheard of PBP and commentary. EA Sports has even added a replay camera in which the commentators go over the goal and how it was scored, which is mighty nifty, but it does get a little repetitive at the end of a full season of play. The videos in EA Sports titles are usually amazing, and NHL 99 boasts one of the coolest intros to a sports game that I have ever seen (only matched by FIFA 98) and the rest of the videos (stadium showcases and mini videos within the menu) are very professional and never run dry. The sound and video is thus almost perfect with the lack of A3D support and the repetition of the phrases in the goal replay videos lowering the score from "perfect" to "pretty damn good" which is really not much difference if you ask me.

Hockey is a fast, furious, hard hitting and enthralling game fought on a rink much too small for twelve men to coexist comfortably together. With the exception of Ultimate Fighting, no sport is faster than hockey and thus properly simulating it can be a difficult task. NHL 99 takes this task, spits in its face, and shows you how hockey should be played (on a computer that is). The interface is nearly flawless, both in-game and out as well as being as sleek as FKrueger's hair (our fearless, so what if he's a little greasy, leader). After the "holy shit EA is good" intro video you will be brought to the main setup screen where you choose the type of game you want to play: exhibition, tournament, season, playoffs, coaching drills, or a shootout. You also have the option to view saved highlights, which can be fun to watch and view from different angles. The options menu is straightforward with a simple menu layout that is very easy to understand.

Exhibition, Season and Playoff modes are all related in that you get to use the NHL teams, including the new expansion team from Nashville. In exhibition you choose two teams to compete in a single game which is customizable in most aspects including difficulty (which I'll get into later), period length, penalties, starting lines, offensive and defensive plays as well as which camera angle will be used, which can be changed during play. Season mode lets you take control of one or more teams and be the general manager, coach and player in the quest for the Stanley Cup. All aspects of the team are accessible and customizable, such as lines, drafts, trading, plays and much more. Playoff play allows you to choose which teams will compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs and who they will play against. You can take control of any game of course or simulate any game as has become the standard in EA sports titles. Another cool little addition I noticed was that players can get on hot and cold streaks, which the computer calculates for you, and they will play better or worse according to this (of course you can change this around by taking control of them yourself).

Now to the tournament mode which adds a lot to the game, in my humble opinion. Tournament mode allows you to play international hockey against other countries and attempt to take the tournament title. The rosters are all authentic to the national teams as of a few months ago. Personally, I loved taking control of my home team, Team Canada, and whooping some Russian and American ass (last count was a tie between me and the U.S.) and I'm sure that many other patriots, be them American, Canadian, Swedish, Russian or whatever, will find the tournament mode allowing for some great and classic matches between the world's best and worst hockey nations. Of course there is also the option to include NHL teams, but it's not as fun that way, plus you can't prove how good your country really is ("because we all know that the outcome of a hockey game will determine the future of the world" - FKrueger).

The shootout allows for a hockey fix, without taking 30 minutes to an hour of your time, and hell it's pretty fun just to take shots. Again, all of the NHL teams are available as well as the national teams and all-star teams, which can make for some exciting matches.

The last type of game, which really isn't a game, is the coaching drills section which allows one to perfect their hockey skills in almost any way imaginable. You can practice plays and 2 on 1, 1 on 1 etc. setups, which is important to master on the pro and all star levels of difficulty. I thought that the addition of this option was very cool on EA's part and that it should make the higher difficulty levels more playable.

The difficulty levels have a learning curve that is designed so that beginners and veterans can jump in at the appropriate level and learn how to play more effectively without being bored or overwhelmed. The beginner level is just that, for beginners and I must warn that most players will find this level much too easy. For the average gamer, rookie will be the optimum level that will allow for a challenge but also some wins. Pro and All-Star are recommended only for experienced players because of the professional manner in which the AI uses its players. The control that is allowed over your players is simple and yet allows for all complex plays and shots to be executed. Aiming is as simple as using either the cursors or the directional pad to point the shot in the correct direction. A new feature of NHL 99 is the shot power meter, which is very much welcomed, that allows for fine-tuning of shot power. Defensive and skating control are very smooth and you can even adjust your stance (offensive/defensive) in real time during play. You may also call on specific plays to be carried out and make line changes manually or have the computer do them automatically for you (it does a fairly good job). The camera views are all very cool and run silky smooth, but I find the classic view the best for playing in as you are able to see what the player sees, which is better for passing and setting up shots. In summary, gameplay is unbelievable, get it, love it, play it again.

Multiplayer Play has two major aspects to examine: same computer play/LAN and TCP/IP. Playing on the same computer with multiple gamepads and/or keyboard is very fun and can support up to 4 people, which should work out to two on each team (yes, some people call me a genius). It may get a little crowded, but that's what makes it much more exciting to bash your friend into the boards, literally. LAN play is pretty smooth as in most games, but I only got to try it with two computers connected so I can't say much more about it. TCP/IP is a major downfall however and it's no wonder why EA tried to hide this feature: if you wish to use TCP/IP in an exhibition game you must go to "exit NHL 99" choose "credits" then choose "programmers" and then type "eaonline" to enable it. Getting setup and connected was a nightmare in itself. It took over an hour just to figure out how to setup the game properly, and frankly I could be doing much better things with my time such as, ummm, well never mind that part. The lag over modems is quite bad, but over cablemodems the lag is very acceptable and the gameplay was much more action-packed than with a computer. Therefore, I'm giving this section a lower rating because, frankly, most people don't have cablemodems.

NHL 99 is the quintessential hockey game and no hockey fan should go without it. It has a few minor faults, namely multiplay, which lower its rating, but overall this title is unbeatable.

 

See the Game Over Online Rating System


Rating
90%
 

 

 
 

 

 

Divider Left By: Jube Divider Right

There was some concern that an American like myself wouldn't truly be able to appreciate the finer points of an intricate game like hockey. Apparently the French-lumberjacks are passionate about a game that once was their national past time. However the USA has made quick work of stealing all the teams & players from Canada and assimilated it into its culture. What does this mean to you, Robby Review Reader? Well I have been a fan of hockey for a number of years and have spent countless hours playing EA's previous installments of NHL series. So without further proof of my reviewing merit--on with the show.

For almost a decade now Electronic Arts has been the standard that all other simulation sports titles were measured. They have continuously and successfully offered increasingly real and exciting titles for a variety of platforms and genres. The latest of these games, NHL 99, lives up to its previous incarnations and in many ways shows some very intriguing and forward thinking design by its designers at EA.

Graphics [16/20]

EA did not follow its pattern of groundbreaking design in the graphics area this time. The comparisons to NHL 97 have been made, and I somewhat agree. In the lower detail settings players appear blocky and rectangular. And in the higher settings the game overlays horrid face textures. During face-offs it's disconcerting just how ugly the players are. I would recommend turning down the player detail levels a bit, it helps game performance and saves you from the possibility of NHL 99 induced nightmares. In all seriousness the graphics are not extremely impressive, but they get the job done. Ice spray and rink reflections are nice effects, and the camera pans add to the overall realism. These effects are mild enhancements at best. And as bigger and better 3D chipsets the standard by which graphics are judged is increased. While the visuals are adequate and appealing, NHL 99 does not offer graphics that are completely fresh and cutting edge.

Sound [15/15]

EA Sports games have always delivered a realistic simulation of the sounds of battle on the playing field. And whether it's in the swish of blades on the ice or the hum of a Zamboni during intermission, NHL 99 does not disappoint. Players will grumble and talk back when called for a penalty. The announcer offers more than just the typical play-by-play. He will also add color commentary when needed. Overall it just added to the immersive qualities of the game. I was defiantly impressed by the level of detail EA has added to this area of the NHL series.

Gameplay [27/30]

Where should I start? Well there are about 8 different modes of play, ranging from Exhibition, League, Playoffs, Drills, Commissioner, Quick Game, etc. What is the point? You won't get bored. Leagues can be setup and run remotely so you and your 30 closest friends can fight it out over a 120 game season. The computer AI ranges from Beginner (Goalie must be drunk and wearing a blind fold) to All-star with plenty of room for different player skill levels in between. The player AI is actually pretty good. My wingmen would move into sweet shot spots at right on time. And they are all willing to check opponents into the glass with authority. You can change the team's overall strategy on the fly during play which is a big bonus. EA really took care to preserve the fast paced action of hockey. The controls and menus are kept simple, which leaves focus of the game (ass kicking and hat trick scoring) right in your face.

Fun Factor [18/20]

NHL 99 definitely packs the mega-bang for your buck. The multiple modes of play, a smooth learning curve and tons of checks/pokes/goals guarantee to keep any sports-genre fan entertained for a long time. I recommend this game to all gamers in general, but you sports nuts are not going to be disappointed. If I were to gripe about anything it would be the lack of quick and easy multiplayer gaming options. EA Sports leaves a great title in an odd position where it cannot provide what it has been developed to, engage players in some serious hockey competition. The moral of the story is, EA has reworked and polished its hockey series into another viable release. By no means is this a 'perfect' year for the series, it has its flaws, but it definitely is worth a place on any gamers hard drive.

Multiplay [2/5]

Even though this is one of the smallest categories (percentage wise) in our reviews I truly value multiplayer. It is the saving grace of an otherwise dull and repetitive game (*cough Q2*) and lack of it can be a swift deathblow in others (*cough Unreal*). Quick and easy, low latency net-play is becoming a defining point in gaming. EA realizes this! NHL 99 is fully enhanced for remote leagues, modem to modem gaming, and a host of other connectivity options. However there are a few problems in design: for instance, for some strange reason there is no quick 1 on 1 game over tcp/ip. The process to setup and commission a league is overly complex and lengthy. Being the diligent reviewer that I am I went ahead and waded through the menus of rules, team selections, roster selections, and after maybe five minutes of clicking and dragging I stumbled upon the "waiting for connection" screen. Once my opponent connected we bother waited patiently while my choices for the league were being downloaded to his computer. After maybe five minutes he popped into my chat window, where we both wondered what next? Oh sorry we didn't tell you before, the readme said, there is no tcp/ip implementation for direct connection play. However we do realize some players might desire this mode of play, and have included a special cheat code to enable this mode of play. Excuse me? A cheat code to play multiplay? Frustrated, I entered the code, my opponent did the same, and we waded through the menus and back to the chat window. Ah hah! There was the fruit of our struggle, the start button had appeared. But guess what folks, the games too laggy to play over 33.6 modems. The readme recommend you find someone in your local calling area to play with. Mmmk...

Overall [8/10]

No. I am not bitter, these things can happen. NHL 99 really is a great game. And you will like it, I promise. But there are flaws, some more obvious than others are. Am I the only one who thinks it is strange for EA to take special care in developing an exciting multiplayer system, and hide access to it in a code you have to enter in the graphic designer credit screen? It just doesn't make much sense. There is a great start of something here, it just didn't quite work this time. Well, there is always '00.

 

See the Game Over Online Rating System


Rating
90%
 

 

 
 

 

 

Screen Shots
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot
Screen Shot

Back to Game Over Online