Unlike FIFA, EA's NHL games have been consistently excellent over the years, and the good news for fans of this quality ice hockey series is that 2005 is the best yet. Featuring a brand new graphics engine that has the beautifully-rendered ice hockey stars skimming about more smoothly than the cast of Beauty And The Beast On Ice, NHL 2005 is an incredibly polished product - if you don't believe
us just check out the shine on those helmets (ha ha).
Firstly, the presentation is absolutely top-notch, with superb commentary, sound effects and enough TV-style replays and cut-aways to convince you you're watching a live US broadcast. Also, as it's EA, you know that you're going to have all the properly licensed international and NHL teams, with spookily accurate likenesses of all the players.
Jump straight in and it plays like a dream - you really get a feeling of momentum with the players shooshing around on the ice. With a little practice you'll soon be smacking the puck around like a toothless Canadian, and the resulting matches are fast, brutal, exciting and unpredictable.
What's more, the player AI is now tuned to individual personalities, so if you slam an opponent with a fiery temper you'd better be prepared to trade blows in the now-legendary fighting mini-game.
As for the other gameplay modes, the Champ Man-lite feel of the Dynasty Mode has been expanded, so you now get emails from the owner of your team giving you praise or a bollocking, plus there's a comprehensive choice of online options. All in all, NHL 2005 is the only ice hockey game worth giving a flying puck about.
Ice ice baby!