Wow, just take a look at that mug!
This game reminds me of the recent hockey film Goon! A somewhat extreme and cartoonish representation of hockey and its fans but entertaining none the less.
What really makes this game so neat is its customizable features! Mind you, this game was trying to set itself apart from its contemporaries like Blades of Steel and Hat Trick (2 well known arcade classics). Yet unlike Blades of Steel and the earlier hockey classic Slapshot there is no speech which would have really set this bit of software ablaze!
Another nice touch is it's third person shot-cam! You can take a position from a three quarter overhead view of the shooting player against the goalie.
The handling is reminiscent of Hat Trick a little with the gliding and wide turns but with a little time one does get used to it. Switching players is a bit tricky and there are other things to keep track of like remembering to change lines every so often. The line energy meter above keeps you informed of any tiring or rested lines on your team.
There is fighting in this game and the action jumps to a side-view shot of the two combatants duking it out. You can feed your opponent low punches and high punches or even grabbing your opponent in a headlock and dishing out the fists intimately. High and low blocking are also there for defense. The loser gets the penalty. Yes, it is all kinds of wrong and sends a blatant politically incorrect message but for pure entertainment value - this works splendidly!
Now, the cutaway scenes due tend to slow down the pace of the game due to the disc access times needed but the game options page gives the player a way of turning it off completely as well as other features like skill level and so forth. When in League play, there are further options like team management and trades that one can make during the season giving this game an extra level of depth that other hockey games lack.
A fun little game that is worth playing time and again. It's a shame that it's been overlooked by so many others. It has a few original features that sets itself apart but this game is probably the most user friendly in terms of options and customization that its competitors lack.
|GRAPHICS - 7/10|
|The in-game graphics are decent and the shot-cam is nice but the fighting-cam offers huge detailed opponents bringing the fight to life. Unfortunately, the choice of colours makes some of the game information hard to read on the in-game panel above.|
|SOUND - 7/10|
|Again, the sound is decent. The music between periods is nice but sounds are a bit sparse but it's functional.|
|PLAYABILITY - 8/10|
|This game handles really well and the level of customization is what make this game special. Just be careful - there is an option to pull your goalie. I found that out the hard way.|
|OVERALL - 8/10|
|Face-Off deserves high marks for holding its own against the likes of its competitors. Fun and well thought out - this game is sure to surprise and entertain many a hockey fan for years to come.|