"NHL 98? Just another hockey game! What could it possibly have to make it different from every other hockey game out there?"
You may ask yourself this question, but NHL 98 is definitely different. The players look real, the play is smooth, and the atmosphere is almost tangible. At times, you'll nearly swear you are actually watching a televised NHL contest.
As you wait for the game to load up, you are treated to a picture of the home team's stadium, just as you might see if you had actually driven to watch the game in person. The game starts with a camera view high above the crowd which shows the players on the rink far below, lined up for the national anthem of the home team (be it "Oh! Canada" or "The Star Spangled Banner). After the singer belts out the last few notes of the anthem, the camera swoops down to show the starting lines on the ice and the goalies in net. The camera angles definitely make the game enjoyable and believable. When play is stopped, the camera focuses on individual players or the team bench from a variety of different angles.
ONe graphical flaw is the flat, unconvincing representations of the crowd and the players on the bench. While this sort of eye candy does not affect gameplay in any significant way, it does stand out against the otherwise superb graphics of which this game is capable.
The commentary is very good, with the announcers making seamless play-by-play calls and adding appropriate "color" remarks. When a quick forward gets slammed into the boards by a meaty defenseman, you can almost hear the commentators grimacing as they respond with an observation like "He sure felt that one!" or "Oh! What a hit!"
All in all, NHL 98 is a fabulous simulation of the greatest game on ice. You can play single-player games against the computer or go head-to-head against a friend over a modem. You can choose a one-time exhibition grudge match or take your favorite team through the playoffs or even a whole season in a quest for the Stanley Cup. The impressively realistic presentation combined with EA's engrossing gameplay makes this a truly excellent sports game by any standard.
Graphics: High quality, colorful graphics
Sound: Authentic sound effects, atmospheric background sounds, excellent voices and commentary.
Enjoyment: NHL '98 is a solid sports game that hockey fans should find immensely enjoyable.
Replay Value: A wide combination of teams, players, and game modes will keep you coming back.
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