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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Fox Sports Interactive

Ups: Cool announcers; realistic control; all the basics.

Downs:  Fuzzy graphics; maybe too realistic control.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation

H1.jpg (3244 bytes)Fox Sports clearly had a television broadcast in mind when creating NHL Championship 2000, and it shows in everything from the introduction commentaries and the play by play announcing by Fox’s own team of John Davidson and Kenny Albert, to the announcement of a commercial break when you hit pause to grab some Doritos, to the overall presentation and camera work of the game. More so than other hockey games, NHL Championship 2000 is designed to create the illusion of a television broadcast, and that works to give the game an interesting feel.

H2-01.jpg (3887 bytes)The aforementioned color commentary by John Davidson and Kenny Albert does a great job keeping you entertained. They’ve got a few great one liners that are good for a laugh or two, and even after the inevitable happens and their repertoire is exhausted, I still kept them turned on just for effect. They do a good job of staying with the action when it comes to body checks, passes, and steals. Unfortunately, however, they’re a little slow in calling goals and saves. They stay right on top of the action, but then when a goal is scored there’s a noticeable pause of a second or two before the announcers catch up. This is a bad time to have the commentary give out, and although I found it easy to sink into the illusion of the television broadcast , it was annoying to be snapped out of the illusion every time a goal was scored. Excellent saves are equally slow, and after a miraculous defense of the goal, I had often passed the puck out and was halfway down the arena by the time the announcers caught up. While this makes up a small part of the actual game time, it’s a crucial moment for keeping the excitement alive.

H3.jpg (2652 bytes)The game plays with a very realistic sense of motion. Unlike other games with a more arcade feel, you have to account for momentum while you slash across the ice. As any Canadian will tell you, razor blades on ice can haul ass, eh, but they don’t slow down for squat. I spent the first game blowing full speed across the ice, delivering monstrous body checks when I happened to run into someone, and putting my forehead through the glass when I didn’t. It was a refreshing change in a hockey game. The system works and has a very life-like feel, unless of course you’re looking for a more flashy, cut and slash type of a hockey game, in which case the control will likely feel cumbersome and unresponsive.

H4-01.jpg (3806 bytes)NHL Championship 2000 has all of the features you would expect it to, including season, playoff, and tournament modes. All 28 NHL teams are present as well as two all star teams and sixteen international teams. The international teams are a nice touch that shows that hockey is bigger than the NHL. You can even play a world tournament and go for the gold. The game also has a create a player mode, a free agent pool, and full coaching options. The coaching aspect of the game lets you select how your team will react to different things in the game, and you can choose how aggressive or defensive you want to play.

There are three different difficulty levels, and the AI is actually pretty tough. On the medium setting it will give you a challenging season, and once you’ve mastered the system you can bump it up to the All Star level where the AI gets tougher, meaner, and smarter. The AI will provide a challenging opponent for quite some time.

The one area that doesn’t lend its self to the feel of a television broadcast are the graphics, which are the weakest part of NHL Championship 2000. They’re certainly not bad, but as far as sports games are going these days, they’re clearly below par. Jersey numbers are almost impossible to make out during game play, and remain fuzzy even during face-off’s. The stadiums and the arenas all look very authentic, and suffer only from the lack of crisp focus that define the game’s graphics.

Overall NHL Championship 2000 is a pretty good game. It’s worth a look if you’re a big hockey fan, especially if you’re looking for a more realistic physics model that offers challenging game play. If you’re looking for great graphics or an arcade barn burner, you might want to consider EA’s NHL 2000.

--Jeff Luther