Based on the arcade game, Blades Of Steel is a hockey arcade action game (gameplay doesn't require the need to worry about statistics or provide the ability to customize teams.) Two players can play against each other, or one player against the computer. In one player mode there are single game and tournament mode options. From time to time a fight may break out, which will provide a close up view of the two players. The player has control during the miniature fight game sequence, with the loser having to spend time in the penalty box. The referee will break up fights that go on too long, and calls a few penalties such as icing. Several short clips of digitized voices are also featured.
Blades of Steel was the first computerized hockey game I ever played. It was on C64. I have to tell you right away though, that this game was ported for C64 two years after it was released for the PC (that didn't happen very often that a PC game would be ported to C64, it was usually the other way around).
I loved the graphics and the fun the game provided (especially in two player modus). A friend of mine and I would use every chance to get away from the school and play a game or two (although sometimes we played Lotus Esprite or One-on-One basketball).
Now for the game itself.
It's a solid hockey game with 8 teams to choose from. If playing against a friend it's always an exhibition match and there are no difficulty levels. Playing the computer though there are three levels of difficulty and you can play either a single exhibition game or start a tournament.
You control the highlighted player and if you pass the puck to another player you get to control that one. You'll also see the aiming arrow when close to opponents (or your own goal) in which case you can either score (if attacking) or try to block the shot (if defending).
The game also includes fights and penalty shootouts and commercials during intermissions (but you can skip those). With fights you have to beat the crap out of the opponent and he'll get dragged of the ice into the penalty box by the referee and you'll have power play. With shootouts you'll get to see the goalie face to face (or be one - depending which team is on the shot). And the intermissions will just provide you with short intros of other Konami games (such as Castlevania or Double Dribble).
The game graphics are solid for the time (16 color EGA graphics) with some vague details shown but with smooth animations. Tunes are less primitive PC speaker sounds (sounding like simple ad-lib sounds) and the controls are easy enough (either by joystick or keyboard, with two set of keys for the two player mode), although I miss the option for redefining keys.
All in all a nice and fun piece of sport gaming, but nothing that will really leave you breathless. You should still try it, especially if you can play against a human opponent, since the game can still provide a few hours fun.
I have to admit I am not the biggest of all ice-hockey-experts. This game at least doesn't look bad, unfortunately it seems to be annoyingly hard. In case the computer-opponent shoots at your goal your controls are immediately switched to your goalie - usually it's a matter of luck if you can react in time. The other big downpoint is that it is often extremly hard to see which player got the puck. Often it is the blinking one - well, not all the time - and since there is always one blinking guy per team it doesn't help you THAT much - I had situations when I tried to get the puck back from the other team only to realize that I had it all the time and just handed it over. This is really unecessary. Also you will have fun trying to score yourself - usually you can shoot however you want, you will always hit the goalie first, your only chance is to get the puck back immediately after the goalie tried to shoot it away - sometimes you can score this way. Please note that all this only refers to the EASIEST level. I didn't dare to try the higher difficulties.
You now got 2 options: back off (if you didn't already have) and get another game or try your luck and see if those problems only occur to weak players like myself - hehe, your choice.
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Brett Hull Hockey 95, Hardball V Enhanced (a.k.a. Hardball 5 Enhanced), Face Off, Front Page Sports: Baseball Pro '98, NHL '94, Double Dribble, California Games, Bo Jackson Baseball
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