Electronic Arts’ NHL series hasn’t had any real competition in years because, lets face it, there aren’t many publishers out there that put as much time and effort into hockey games as they do. V7 Entertainment, a Canadian indie game developer, took a huge risk in bringing Old Time Hockey to the Xbox One, Steam and the PlayStation 4 and while the end result isn’t quite up to the standards of the NHL series, it’s still a sometimes fun arcade hockey game with potential.
Old School Action
At the same time, less than perfect controls and a difficult A.I. sometimes ruin the run. If you grew up on games like Mutant League Hockey and Hit the Ice, the action will be familiar. Arcade in nature, you’ll be able to injure players and thanks to a variety of power-ups, get hot and score some fun goals. As a result, Old Time Hockey is best played with a bunch of pals. It is in this environment that many of the game’s ailments don’t matter as much because both gamers are going through them.
If you are by yourself, however, the game’s story mode is fun and deep. That’s where you’ll spend the majority of your time playing if you’re looking for something different. Using 10 fictional teams, based off of characters from hockey films and the ‘70s and ‘80s NHL, you’ll be able to take them through a season. Completing objectives along the way, like hitting the opposition’s star players, it’s almost like playing through your own hockey film.
Thanks to a ton of research and polish, the great-looking goalie masks and player names (Gillies Nystrom, for example) makes it even more enjoyable. However, in spite of this extra mode, the game runs its course rather quickly. If you’re by yourself, you’ll get bored after a few hours.
There’s Heart and Passion, But…
The boredom factor is a direct result of the game’s control. There’s no “snap” to shots. The one-timers in the game don’t feel “instant” and checking feels forced. As a result, many of the key elements needed to make this game “feel” right aren’t quite there yet. In spite of that, between the visuals, music and power-ups, the foundation is there for an eventually great hockey game. It just hasn’t been perfected yet. For a small team to put a game like this together is no easy task. V7 deserves a lot of respect for their effort. Overall, the game plays like a fourth liner with a ton of heart but not the top-six winger it could be.
In the end, Old Time Hockey hurts itself the worst. If the control was better, hits easier to land and one-timers easier to pull off, it would be a fantastic game. At this point, the game is functional, sometimes fun, but in need of a patch or two.
Fun, Arcade Action: At its core, Old Time Hockey is a throwback hockey game that will remind you of films like Slap Shot and Youngblood. For that reason alone, hardcore hockey fans will love it.
Attention to ‘70s Hockey Scene: The cut-scenes before each game, as well as the design of the rinks will instantly connect older hockey fans and gamers with the players and games they grew up with.
Fun Multiplayer: The best times you’ll have playing Old Time Hockey are with friends.
Story Mode: If Old Time Hockey didn’t have this mode, you’d spend a lot less time with it. The innovative objective-based gameplay makes you look at hockey games in a much different way.
Control Issues: Skating isn’t nearly as fluid as it could be while hitting and shooting feel finicky. The game can be fun at times, but it’s not nearly as explosive as you’d expect it to be. That has everything to do with the control.
Not Fun Alone: The computer is difficult and it’ll take a few hours to hold your own. The only problem is who wants to play a game that destroys you on a routine basis?
Fighting Gets Boring: It’s a key element of the game, it’s just too simple in approach and gets old fast.
Although Old Time Hockey does many things right in terms of presentation and visuals, the game’s controls hamper the experience. Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable multiplayer game that is still rife with potential in need of another patch to tighten up the controls.
V7 Entertainment provided a review copy of the game for review purposes.
Over the past ten years as a working journalist, Patrick Hickey Jr. has covered the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, as well as the Brooklyn Aces of the former EPHL, contributing pieces and/or holding Editorial positions at NBC, New York Sports Day, NY Sportscene Magazine and the New York Times. During that time, he has interviewed NHL stars the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Bernie Nicholls, Bob Probert, Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise. He is also the first winner of the New York Islanders Blog of the Year Award, for his work on TheDriveForFive.com in 2008.