Friday, February 13, 2009

NHL 3 on 3 Arcade Review

NHL 3 on 3 Arcade
Playstation 3 and Xbox 360
$10 on Playstation Network and 800 MS points (equivalent to PSN) on Xbox Live Arcade

Ever since the first Nintendo Entertainment System was released in homes, hockey has consistently had some of the best games in the sports gaming genre. Classic games such as Nintendo's "Ice Hockey," Konami's "Blades of Steel" and Electronic Arts "NHL '94" won fans with their simplicity, addictiveness and head-to-head play.

Riding on the recent success of NHL '09, the EA Vancouver team has released NHL 3 on 3 Arcade. With a focus on scoring, hitting and with the rule book thrown out the window, NHL 3 on 3 Arcade is an homage to the great 8-bit hockey games of the past

Team red and blue go to battle over four periods until a set number of goals is reached. Current NHL jerseys are not selectable, so the All-Star game jerseys are used instead. Players look like bobble heads and the cartoon graphic style along with zany sound effects creates a fun, arcade style atmosphere.

You can build your team of three by mixing and matching any of the 40 NHL players in the game. Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin are the Capitals representatives in the game. Of the players available, most appeared in the NHL All-Star game, but there are a few other odd-ball players such as Sean Avery. Only four goaltenders appear in the game, two from each conference, and some obvious NHL stars have been sadly omitted.

Each NHL player is assigned one of three descriptions, strong, fast, or all-around. Fast players move the quickest and have the best wrist shots, but are easy to hit. Strong players are the slowest but are harder to hit and deliver strong slap shots. All-around players are a mix of the two extremes.

To assist the players in the game are numerous power ups that can be acquired by checking an opposing player. When you check a player, a power up icon falls onto the ice and then it's a frantic dash to grab it before the opposing team does. Power ups include super strength, laser shots, shrinking the opposing goalie or freezing an opposing player in a block of ice. Because of the frequency that you will be checking each other, you will find it hard to go a few seconds without a power up.

NHL 3 on 3 Arcade features two basic control schemes. One of them uses the Xbox and Playstation's face buttons to pass, shoot and check. The alternative control setting is a copy of NHL '09s control scheme, using the analog sticks for checking, shooting and the triggers for passing. The controls are simple enough for anyone to be competitive, even when playing seasoned gaming vets.

The game only features two modes. You can play against the computer, although matches with the computer are not nearly as exciting as those against human opponents. Luckily, the game features online play, ensuring you won't have to worry about finding a human opponent, so long as you're connected to the net.

The $10 price tag is a bit steep for a game with an obvious lack of content, but NHL 3 on 3 Arcade's game play is good enough that casual fans and hardcore puck heads will be satisfied, but ultimately left wanting more.

Simple, addictive and easy to play
Excellent online play

$10 price tag is steep
Lack of game modes
Single player experience is lacking
NHL player pool is too small
Absence of NHL jerseys is lame


Second opinion
Gamespot: 4/10
IGN: 5.9/10

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