A nice feature that I like is fighting actually means something in the game. In the past, it’s had an impact on the crowd which has an impact on the players (in theory at least) but when you win a fight in ESPN NHL2K5
, you get unlimited turbo for a period of time. The bigger the victory the more turbo time you’re going to get. While this isn’t exactly realistic in terms of real hockey, it does make sense in the context of video game hockey.
The franchise mode has been expanded this year with the addition of scouts that you can use to scout other teams. If you’re a die hard, then you’ll really appreciate this level of detail but it’s not something you have to do if you don’t want to. One interesting quirk with the franchise mode is that I would have players who got hurt BETWEEN games and then be ready to go for the next game. I can understand players getting hurt in practice but you don’t expect them to jump back so quickly or for it to happen so often. If you liked the franchise mode from the last few versions of the game, you’ll be right at home with this year’s version as not much else has changed. This is a good thing as it’s still a nice system.
Along with the franchise mode, ESPN NHL2K5
includes a new Dream Team mode where you have to play your way through a ladder of all star games. These all star teams have been picked by NHL players, ESPN commentators, and the ESPN developers. It’s a nice addition but with the World Cup of Hockey this year, you really have to wonder why the World Cup teams aren’t in the game at some level (it might be a licensing issue but you never know). It’s a nice addition to the game but some more international teams might have been appreciated.
Another great tradition of the ESPN NHL series is the wonderfully rendered arenas. Instead of having static arenas where just the logo at center ice changes, ESPN renders each arena in beautiful detail. I had some friends with Blue Jackets season tickets over and they swore they could see their seats. Even the Jumbotrons are exact down to the advertising boards. The on ice reflections are excellent and when you play in Joe Louis rink, you can practically see every banner the Red Wings have won over the years. It’s this attention to detail that makes the game so wonderful to play.
Too bad this attention to detail didn’t carry over to the rest of the games presentation layer. The menus are exceedingly generic and possess none of the flair of the menus in the company’s NFL franchise. If you bought last year’s version of the game, you’ll feel right at home with this year’s game. The franchise screens look almost exactly the same with the exception of the new franchise items added to the game. It’s not a bad thing but a few new tweaks would have been appreciated.
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