Good news for PSP owning hockey fans: this year's Gretzky isn't as bad as the last. In fact, it's pretty decent. Now that's not to say that there aren't a few problems, but overall it's a marked improvement.
Let's start off with the Season feature because it's more than likely the most important to serious hockey fans. This year, the Season mode got quite a bit deeper. Aside from the usual features, there are a few new features that add some realism. For instance, your team will now perform better based on chemistry. Not chemistry as in the inner working of molecules but about the way your team works together. If you get a bunch of guys together that play well, then they'll be a better team. It makes players easier to sign and it just all around boosts your ability. If you have a group of glory hogs that want nothing more than to be in the spotlight, they're not going to work well together at all. Another aspect is the idea that if your team isn't performing well overall then the guys will get discouraged and start trying to abandon ship. Chemistry can work for you or against you.
Now, another new feature is 99 Time. 99 Time is a game mode featuring 5-player teams as usual, but throughout the course of the game you accumulate “99 Time” points. These points can be gained from doing the usual aggressive hockey stuff. You know, hitting people in the head and whatnot. Now, once you reach the height of your countdown you get to have Gretzky join your team. Of course so can your opponent, so it's not all rainbows. Other than that, another notable new feature is a 3-on-3 mode without a time limit and the regular NHL structure.
Of note in this installment is the overall graphic and sound improvements. The graphics are actually quite good and crisp. The character animation is very nice. Other than a few notable exceptions, the sound is quite a bit better as well. One huge sound improvement is the announcer's chatter. It gets kind of redundant after a while, but at least it's there.
Now of course, it's not all positive. One big problem is the erratic AI. Sometimes they play really well and other times it's an icing fest. I have never seen as many icing calls in my entire life. Other than icing, they love just handing over the puck. It doesn't happen all the time thankfully.
Online is pretty neat, which is to be expected. It's not really a sports game if you can't talk trash to your friends and family, not to mention complete strangers. There's nothing better than dominating another person.
Gretzky 06 is pretty good overall. There are a few flaws in it but nothing that can't be overlooked by the hockey fanatic. Go out there and knock someone's teeth out.