Alright, hockey fans, it’s time to lace up the skates, grab a stick and check someone into the boards in the latest hockey game to make its way on to gaming platforms. Old Time Hockey is the latest from V7 Entertainment and it is an arcade hockey game that, as the name suggests, celebrates the old school style of hockey. OTH strips away the gloss, finesse and intricacies of modern hockey that gamers would find in the NHL series from EA. When looking at OTH, think of it as something in a similar vein of NHL 94. It’s not exactly NHL 94, but it can fill that void if you’re looking for that. It’s a fun, humorous and violent throwback arcade experience that takes obvious inspiration from the movie Slap Shot.
As hockey fans know, hockey is a violent sport. The violence has decreased in the modern style of the sport, so OTH sets itself back in the 70s and puts an emphasis on the violence. Fortunately for OTH, the violent emphasis isn’t in the player’s face, it’s not overdone and it doesn’t get in the way of the enjoyment of the game. Hitting and checking is very encouraged and it doesn’t take much to initiate a fight. Players can even win a game if too many players of the opposing team are injured.
Now, as for the actual hockey being played, the game does a good job of making it a fun and quick game of back and forth action. Depending on the difficulty setting, there could be a difference in what rules are active or not. With all of the traditional rules on, things like icing and offside etc., they don’t really get in the way and affect the flow of the game. The AI is pretty good at always staying onside and the puck will rarely make its way all the way down the rink for an icing call. The puck’s momentum usually dies and you’ll be right back in the action.
OTH offers an exhibition mode if you’re just looking to jump into a quick game with 10 different teams to choose from. The other mode is a campaign. The campaign places the player on a last place team in the aptly named Bush Hockey League (BHL) and the player is given the remaining 40 games of the schedule to help improve the team. Each game, the player is given various tasks like, hitting a marked player from the opposing team, scoring combinations, shutting out the opposing team or getting into fights. Winning games will help your team, but completing the objectives will give you skills and abilities to enhance your player. Speaking of those abilities, you can catch on fire which just makes the shot more accurate and player a little faster giving you an edge on the ice. Both modes can be played with friends, but not online. The focus here is couch co-op supporting up to four different players.
The game has a few different control settings that can choose from to suite how you like to play. There’s a more modern style that makes use of most of the buttons on a controller. The other two control schemes are much more simplified. One only makes use of two buttons and the other, with what might be the best name, is Beer Mode. Beer Mode allows for the game to be controlled with just one hand. You can choose to use either the left or right stick and then the corresponding triggers (if you control with the right stick, you’d also use the right triggers) to control everything else like hitting, passing and shooting.
OTH is fun, but not without a few problems. While the controls can be simplified, the game does feel a little heavy and stiff when being controlled. Unfortunately, that stiffness can get in the way of the gameplay and affect the action. This heavy feeling carries over the actual pace of the play as well. There aren’t many interruptions during a game so it flows nicely, but the pace of the game can feel a bit sluggish. The two modes are fun, but at the end of the day, that’s all there is. If you’re looking for something with a little more depth, you won’t find that here.
OTH is a successful throwback to an old school hockey game despite a few lingering issues. The simplified gameplay and control schemes is a nice break from the over intricate style of the modern NHL series. The four player couch co-op was also a welcome addition and fits perfectly with what the game is. A fun, silly and yet, satisfying hockey experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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