A series of hockey games released by the good folks at EA Sports. It has always been around, and faced little competition in the form of decent, playable hockey games on the PC, with the exception of the NHL Powerplay Series by Virgin Interactive, which died out in 1999. The EA Sports NHL series really took off with the release of NHL 97.

NHL 97 featured high resolution graphics, a much higher polygon count than before, and for the first time, the now familiar play-by-play commentary by the Daryl Reaugh and Jim Hughson duo. NHL 97 was the most graphically amazing game for its time, it also had excellent sound effects. Its AI was dubious at best, as demonstrated by the infallible deke move goal. The movements of the players were much better than before, as shown by their ability to follow your moves and line up properly. However, AI continues, up to now, to be the big problem with their NHL series. The playing style is undoubtedly arcade, but its incredible, incredible fun.

NHL 98 built on the foundations set by NHL 97. It now had a shootout mode, allowing you to practice breakaways. This game was one of the first to utilize 3D acceleration, namely 3Dfx's Voodoo. This made the game very pretty indeed. In addition, the game now allowed to to manually control your goalie. Which by the way is a good thing, because the goalie AI is at sometimes amazingly stupid. AI once again plagues this game. The golden move seems to be firing the puck at the goal using a defender after a faceoff in the offensive zone. It always goes in. Still, this game was offfensive hockey at its best.

AI was greatly worked on in the NHL 99 release. Players line up much better, pass better, and shoot better. You could also create your own players. An excellent game in all aspects. However, it still had a golden move which allows you to score. Just shoot from the sides. The goalie had not been programmed to cover the posts, so it always goes in. I remember I had a full season where Paul Kariya scored over 400 goals.

The latest incarnation at the time of writing, NHL 2000, or NHL2K, is everything I wanted in a hockey game. Fast and furious. The AI, yet again, needs more work. It is very easy to get a breakaway on the computer. Also, the goalie moves out too much. But other than that, it's perfect. You can even import your own face into a created player. Ahhh, seeing me with the Stanley Cup. The feature isn't exactly perfect, but it's pretty good. Still some cheap goals once in a while, but overall this is the best hockey game anyone can get. I played this hours on end. Playing the game on a LAN makes a great gaming experience.

Uberfetus: Grill Guy! Wilt Chamberlain! Bill Clinton! Ronald Reagan! Fuck yeah!

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