Published on March 27th, 2017 | by stafunoob0
Review – Old Time Hockey
It has been 9 years since the PC platform has seen the release of a proper hockey game. Sure, there have been different management simulators, but none where you can actually play the game of hockey. Thanks to the efforts of V7 Entertainment, this long time drought has ended with Old Time Hockey.
Old Time Hockey focuses on the fun of arcade style hockey games, rather than taking the more realistic approach of more recent hockey titles . Imagine the game play of NHL 94, mixed in with the over the top nonsense of NBA Jam, and you’ll have Old Time Hockey. With a focus on heavy hits and bench clearing brawls, my anticipation was through the roof, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Old Time Hockey ships with 2 different game modes, an exhibition mode that gives access to any of the 10 teams, and a story mode that hands over the reigns of a struggling team. Exhibition mode can be played with up to 3 other people, team up and take on the CPU or split the teams up and take each other on.
Multiplayer is unfortunately limited to local play only at the moment. While this is disappointing, I can’t blame V7 Entertainment for not including online play. With the amount of resources needed to include multiplayer in a game, on top of how quickly most multiplayer games fizzle out, I can understand how it could be financially risky to spend time and resources on adding it into Old Time Hockey. However, there is hope. On the steam discussion boards the developers have spoken up, and even agree that not having online multiplayer sucks, but if the community is strong and shows support we may see it in future patches to the game or even possibly in a sequel if one were to happen.
Most of my time with Old Time Hockey has been spent with its story mode, mainly so I could unlock the game’s advanced control scheme which can only be obtained through this mode. This proved to be a bigger struggle than I had first anticipated. Now I’ll admit, I have never been the greatest at any sort of hockey game, but my God was I terrible when I first started off the story mode. It didn’t help that the team they stick you with has zeros across the board with all of their stats. When they say the team is struggling, they mean it. The story mode is rich with the personality of the struggling team and the era that Old Time Hockey takes place. Be sure to pay attention to the newspaper articles and the loading screen messages to learn more about the problems that your team and players are facing on a day to day basis. Upon completion of Story Mode, Story Mode+ opens up and allows players to go through a season with any of the 10 teams to unlock more collectibles that were possibly too tough with the struggling team.
Now I mentioned earlier I mainly played the story mode to unlock the advanced control scheme in the game. This isn’t the only control scheme available to use in the story mode, but it does a great job of easing players into these controls instead of bombarding them off the bat. While the players who have played some of the recent NHL titles from EA may feel held back, those who haven’t played any sort of hockey game in years won’t feel overwhelmed when learning these controls. Old Time Hockey will run players through tutorials of the different skills over the first dozen games or so, requiring them to successfully pull of these skills. If a primary objective was not met and a skill wasn’t successfully performed then the whole game has to be played over again, regardless of it was a win or loss. While this may seem intimidating it really isn’t as bad as it seems. The only one I struggled with was the fighting one and that is because I was tasked to fight the goalie, which proved to be a pain trying to trigger the goalie into a fight.
If the advanced controls aren’t something that intrigue you there are 3 other button schemes that work just as well. Retro, two-button, and beer mode are how they are classified and they get easier as you go down the list. Retro has a nice 3 button system, allowing players to perform all actions through these buttons and the joysticks. Two-button mode is the classic NHL 94 control scheme giving players a pass and shoot button, simple and sweet without any unnecessary bells and whistles. Beer mode, and what I personally find is a genius control scheme, allows players to play with the controller in one hand while holding their beer in the other hand. Perfect for all occasions! My biggest gripe with the control schemes is that there is no keyboard support at the moment. In yet another steam discussion post a developer stated that they would look into adding keyboard support, they even have their own sticky thread up asking players what button schemes they feel would work best on the keyboard. However, not having this option available on launch on the PC version is a bit of a let down.
All the different sets of controls were responsive and I didn’t have any real issues with input delays. I thought the game was plagued with input lag at first when going through story mode but then quickly realized that it was just because my team’s stats were garbage. When I played a few games in exhibition mode to test this theory I found no issues at all with teams that had proper stats.
Old Time Hockey takes me back to the days of playing NHL 94 with my dad and brother for hours on end. A simpler time where either my brother or I would get too frustrated to play and then our Dad would let us win just to pick us back up. You can grab Old Time Hockey today on Steam and PS4. It is also coming soon to Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.
Summary: The lack of keyboard controls and locking a control scheme at the start really hurts those on PC who don’t own enough controllers for themselves and their friends. However, the game plays fantastic and it hits all the nostalgia notes perfectly, making for a great time.