NHL Powerplay '98 Review

For PlayStation

Rating: Average
 NHL Powerplay '98 is definitely not the must-have mother-of-
all-hockey-games I thought it would be, but it's still a 
decent game. I absolutely loved NHL Powerplay '96, and after
skipping a year in the title, Powerplay '98 has several 
features the first game should have had: full stat tracking 
over a season, right and left handed players instead of just
righties, and fighting. However, this year's game leaves 
much to be desired in several areas. Offensively, scoring 
goals now seem to be based as much as luck on skill as 
opposed to the first game's skillfully luring the goalie to
one side of the net and then shooting it in the other side at
just the right moment.  Defensively, you just don't get that
awesome feeling of checking the living crap out of your 
opponents that was one of the first game's best elements.  
Also, the crowd isn't near as cool as last year's game, and
the music is more modern rock junk than last year's classic 
tunes.  As for the addition of fighting, yeah it sounds great
on the back of the box, until you realize that in order to 
play with fighting on, you must play with penalties on. If 
there was an issue about not wanting players to go 
un-penalized for fighting, there could have simply been a 
third penalty setting that said "Off, except for fighting."
And even if you do play with those annoying, seemingly-
random penalties on so you can turn fighting on as well, the
fights still fail to capture the joy that is still best found
in EA's NHL series on the Genesis.  Another problem I have 
with this game is that instead of saving all seasons, 
rosters, and options automatically as is now the standard in
hockey games and was the case in the Powerplay '96, you have 
to load and save individual seasons, rosters, and options 
separately.  This becomes a pain with the game's already-
lengthy load times, and is made even worse by the fact that 
often times you'll load rosters or preferences and all your 
custom rosters will have magically disappeared.  This is a 
pain in the butt, the complete opposite of last year, where 
everything was automatically saved and loaded like it should
be.  Also, the graphics are better than last year's game, but
hockey game designers have got to learn to make the players 
look better from far away instead of just when you get in 
close, because you have to play with a wide camera angle for
a hockey game to be playable, and thus you can't appreciate 
improved graphics if you have to zoom in to see their 
details. Don't get me wrong, despite all these flaws, 
Powerplay '98 is still a decent game, but rather than being 
the absolutely must-have hockey game I thought it would be,
it has turned into a game that I feel isn't worth paying $50
for.  PlayStation hockey fans should just pick up a copy of 
NHL Powerplay '96, which is an awesome game that is only $20

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