NHL 06 (GameCube) Review

By John Boyle 26.10.2005 1

You've got to hand it to EA; they certainly are persistent. Every year their sports games are tweaked and changed, every year the data is upgraded and all features revised and removed or improved. Every year the unpopular features are removed and replaced with new ones. This is done in the hope that one day they will attain perfection, one day NHL, Madden, Fifa and Tiger Woods will be unbeatable in their respective fields. It's been a while now and we're still waiting, so how close does NHL 06 come to the pot of perfection at the end of the EA rainbow?

Before the review properly starts there will be a small warning... all gamers who are impatient please leave now.... They away? Good. The reason they're not here is because NHL 06 demands a stunning amount of patience from anyone who sits down to play it. True, it does have the arcadey one more game element of all of the EA sport titles and true when watching it does seem kinda easy but once that pad is in your hands it's a different matter. In this game goalies are gods, stopping all shots that come near them. In fights you will feel like a pre pubescent girl unable to throw a punch and when defending you'll be turned inside out like a well-worn jumper.

That's not to say it's impossible to get good or grind out results. It just takes time, but after a few hours you'll get slowly better. One major tip is to turn off the auto-aiming feature designed for beginners and get manual aiming tuned on. This means that when you have pushed shoot and your player is just about to hit it a small target will appear on the goals. Aim for where you want the puck to go and it'll go there. Far better than the auto-aiming alternative, which consists of hitting it straight at the goalie every time, and consequently handing the game to the other team. But you won't mind at not having the easy option available, this is a game that you'll want to be good at and you'll want to be in as complete control as possible. Luckily this is possible with the amazing controls.

Screenshot for NHL 06 on GameCube

It seems that all of EAs gimmicks for each game is tested out in another EA sports game. For example this year NHL have the trick stick feature that FIFA pioneered a few years back. It's an interesting concept, perfect on one game and transport the perfect article to another. The trick stick has been slightly modified and early on will result in your player spinning around a lot but persevere and it adds a welcome touch of flair to an otherwise chaotic game.

It's also pretty vital for scoring as powering shots from the blue line will rarely score, but getting in close and trying to deke the goalie or do a trick stick move will move the goalie and open up some space for the shot. Even then it's difficult to score, but in a good way. You never feel cheated, just encouraged to keep trying for that perfect shot that'll go in. As a result when it does go in you're jumping about and celebrating as you would in real life. No cheap goals in here, you work for results and work for goals. Just like in real life.

Screenshot for NHL 06 on GameCube

It's that real life element that made Dynasty Mode such a success last year. It's back this year and it's been expanded by 5 seasons and a few minor features but the premise is the same. Pick a team and make a name for you and your team through playing games and running the franchise. This will last you a lifetime, 85 games per season for 15 seasons equals a hell of a lot of hockey to be played. You can simulate games but you are generally so eager to get out and play that you'll never let the computer take a game.

The superb free for all feature is also back making multiplayer heaven available again for the GameCube. Get four people round the GC with this on and you'll never look back. It's essentially what you do outdoors when you don't have enough people to play a sport for real; you make smaller versions of the game. Be it first to 5 goals wins, or whoever scores most in 2 minutes wins it is still a riot. But (like the main game) it can get kinda confusing with you all beating crap out of eachother and the puck flying everywhere. Then again that is part of the joy of Ice Hockey, the excitement and mayhem. Presentation is typical EA fare. Decent soundtrack coupled with stunning graphics and perfect stadia makes it a pretty atmospheric game. This is most evident when you are really into a game and it is particularly action packed. The fans boo when you lose a fight, the music kicks in before face offs and the roar goes up when that puck flies into the goals. It's the one place where EA can really seduce its audience and it does it brilliantly here.

Screenshot for NHL 06 on GameCube

Whilst this all sounds lovely there are a few problems. First up it takes up a mammoth amount of room on the memory card. Think about 66 blocks for each section, and if you want rosters, your own character, a dynasty, a tournament and a league saved your looking at 330 blocks. Time to invest in a big 3rd party card as the 251 just doesn't stand up here. Secondly it is not a quantum leap from NHL 05. A few tweaks in ai (getting past the blue line isn't impossible anymore and the goalies are a much better) and minor expansions in the various tournaments but apart from that nothing much has changed. The trick stick (whilst useful) doesn't add much and the supposed improvements to puck physics are barely noticeable. It's a fault that cripples all EA games, but this game and NHL 05 are much the same apart from price.

NHL 06 is yet another example of how ice hockey makes a great game. It is wild, chaotic and unpredictable yet tinged with the right amount of skill it makes NHL 06 a fantastic game in it's own right for hockey fans and people who've never experienced the sport. But you may be better saving your cash and getting NHL 05, it's practically the same game.

Screenshot for NHL 06 on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

NHL 06 will not sell well in Britain, no hockey game ever does. This is unfortunate because NHL 06 is a game that should be in any sports fan's console with it's fast gameplay, brilliant ai and epic lifespan makes this a truely great game. Problem is that NHL 2005 was also a great game, and is now a good

Developer

EA

Publisher

EA

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

tyler (guest) 07.01.2012#1

i do not have this. and thats good. becuase i have a ps3. not the gamecyubSmilie

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