Replay Value: 8.7
Following in the footsteps of Mutant League Hockey (or something like that), EA has released Rock the Rink. A hockey title that plays in the fashion of NFL Blitz and NBA Jam, NHL Rock the Rink is EA's no rules sports title and also the answer to midways NFL Blitz series. NHL is in the title, the game doesn't strictly use fictional teams, so you are getting a bit of realism here. It came as a surprise to me when I heard EA say that they were going to publish an arcade hockey game. The company is by far the best videogame sports developer, their awesome titles include FIFA 2000, Madden 2000, and NBA Live 2000. But now EA is on the arcade side of the sports field. Good or bad? Lets find out.
Hmmm, graphics. I wouldn't say that these visuals are the best that a PS sports title has seen but they aren't bad. I can't really see anything that makes me open my mouth, although I did like the groovy CG intro. The player detail is there but the characters feel somewhat plain. They haven't received much polish but that's the only thing that harms the visuals slightly. The frame rate always manages to keep up at all times, even when all six moving players are on one screen. Aside from the slight lack of polish Rock the Rink's visuals aren't so bad if we look at the speed the game has to run at.
The gameplay is the real deal here, there is not a cinch of simulation here, so sim fans look away. If you're tired of playing hockey games that aren't very fast paced then you really should give RTR a chance. The game has a choice of 28 NHL teams which need to be unlocked by beating them, but you aren't left team-less, you have 8 fantasy teams to choose from at the beginning. During gameplay you don't only shoot the puck back and forth but you also get to launch that baby in style. Pressing Triangle will make your player unleash a gruesome move that will make the puck soar to high grounds. Some of the moves that can be pulled off are the Tornado, Corkscrew, Helicopter and the Leapfrog. In addition to that, there are also wrestling moves like clotheslines, cannonballs, power slams, tosses and as EA says "other phat" moves. Fighting is also included along with the rest of the game's furious action, and since we are on the subject of common hockey events, glass shattering also occurs from time to time when the puck is shot in the air. As you should know by now the action is 4 on 4 (goalies included), so there is much more room for gameplay. The only disappointing thing about RTR is that it's a 2-player title and not at least a 4 player title like I expected it to be. NHL Rock the Rink shows an incredibly positive showing in the gameplay department, see how it does in sound.
That famous EA commentary is back in RTR. When on the ice the commentators are very precise and on time throughout the whole time. Speaking of "whole", the game's soundtrack is actually lead by Hole with their single Celebrity Skin. Supporting them are the Hanson Brothers (4 songs), no not those sleazy little twerps, they actually have metal band called the Hanson Brothers, and behind them is FacePuller (with 6 tracks), Feisty and Transmitter with a track each. The clarity in overall sound is exceptional, the commentary only repeats itself during fights and that's about it.
The control is fairly easy to memorize. Square is to shoot, while Triangle is to perform a "cool shot". Using the analog stick is more effective than using the digital pad, because it is much easier on your fingers. Dual Shock is there but it isn't too noticeable, the rumble needs to be more powerful than what it is right now. Check out the manual for further instructions on the controls.
NHL Rock the Rink is a great game. Although it doesn't use the NHL license very much, it provides tons of fun. In my opinion this is EA's first sleeper of 2000, there are a total 34 hockey teams and that is including the fictional teams. Then you have the create a team option which gives the game more replay value and the 2-player mode which is a blast. If you enjoy a clean game of hockey and prefer sims then you should stay away from NHL Rock the Rink, but if you are like me and prefer any game that's good and especially one that lets you beat your opponent mindlessly, then pick up NHL Rock the Rink.