3 On 3 NHL Arcade [Xbox 360, 2009]

3 On 3 NHL Arcade

3 On 3 NHL Arcade
System: Xbox 360
Developer: EA Canada
Release Date: February 11, 2009

I am always interested in sports arcade games. As much as I love simulations and realistic sports games, it’s nice once in a while to kick back with a game that doesn’t take itself seriously. That’s why I was curious about 3 On 3 NHL Arcade, which was recently on sale for $2.50 (half off its regular $5 price). Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s even worth that ridiculously low price.

3 On 3 is hockey in its most exaggerated, yet basic form. There are no teams, just blue versus red. There is no depth, just a quick match either by yourself or against a friend. Upon selecting a team color, you choose three players out of 40 total (no difference between them, except they are labeled as either “fast” “strong” or “all around”), and a goalie (again, no difference). Set a goal total and a difficulty level, and you are off to the races. The actual gameplay is decent. You are given the ability to use old-school controls or the new analog stick system from recent NHL games. To maintain its “arcadey” feel, occasionally the game throws in a handful of Mario Kart-esque powerups onto the ice. There are powerups to make either goalies or players big and small, speed boosts, 2x goal multipliers, and even the ol’ banana peel. Needless to say, games can get pretty hectic with all of the crazyness happening on screen.

3 On 3’s big problem is that there just isn’t enough to do. Playing quick matches over and over again gets old, especially if you are playing solo. By the time you hit 20-30 minutes of action, you will probably be sick of the game. Some more game modes or mini-games would have boosted the replay value. I also had a serious issue with the sound effects used in the menus. There is an obnoxious sound effect every time you hit a button. I don’t know who’s bright idea it was to do that, but it is freakin’ annoying!

In short, 3 On 3 is decidely average. It has sound gameplay, but it is sorely lacking in replayability. I can’t complain too much since I got this game for less than the price of a pint, but I can’t help but feel it could have been so much better.

5/10

Video Game Review: NHL 09 [Xbox 360]

NHL 09
System: Xbox 360
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: September 9, 2008

When it comes to sports video games, I am a casual fan. I rarely buy the new versions, which are usually nothing more than slight gameplay tweaks with updated rosters. It is hard to justify spending $60 on a game that is marginally improved from its previous year’s edition. Although it is now two years old, NHL 09 is a game that marked a significant improvement in the popular EA Sports hockey series. For casual hockey fans looking to save some $$$, NHL 09 still delivers a lot of bang for its buck.

NHL 09’s biggest addition is the “Be a Pro” mode where you get to create your own player and rise through the ranks of professional hockey, starting in the AHL. This mode is a blast to play since you are in total control of your character only. This gives the game an entirely new dynamic, and is certainly one of its most entertaining features. Online play is also largely improved, although it offers little value now unless you have a group of friends to play with. Several changes were made to the game’s controls to make the gameplay feel even more realistic. The analog-stick shooting will take some time to get acquainted with for the uninitiated, but after getting the hang of them it is hard to go back to the old “NHL 94” style controls.

NHL 09 looks beautiful, the arenas have great atmospheres, and the commentary is never annoying. With such a strong presentation and a large number of game modes (including the ever-expansive dynasty mode), NHL 09 is a very strong offering from EA Sports. If you are a casual fan like me, do yourself a favor and pick this up. NHL 09 still holds up today, aside from the obvious outdated rosters.

8/10