3 on 3 NHL Arcade Review (PS3)
Call it what you want, but 3-on-3 NHL Arcade is EA's first attempt at bridging the gap that separates the fans and non-fans of hockey.
So, mission accomplished?
While 3-on-3 NHL Arcade is not a bad game -- it technically plays well and really is kind of fun -- it just does not have any lasting appeal.
3-on-3 NHL Arcade features just a few modes of play, namely two: Play Now and Online. Now, I know this game was developed with a minimum amount of resources and is downloadable only for $10, but I would at least expect some more variety. Perhaps a simple tournament mode or something else along those lines?
At the very least, the game is somewhat customizable. You can tweak the difficulty level, game speed, goals to play to, and whether to turn power-ups on or off.
When setting up a game, you can select between two teams, red or blue, and then select your personnel (three players, obviously, plus a goalie) based off of three different types of players: fast, all-around and strong. However, you cannot pick anyone from the NHL to be on your squad; it seems like only the superstars have made it into the game.
This isn't your grandmothers hockey game.
Hockey on Red Bull?
When in the game, you will notice that it is a fast-paced, non-stop version of hockey where all the rules are thrown out the window. Also, in true arcade fashion, there are various power-ups that enable a bit of in-game strategy. You get these power-ups by checking the opposing players and then scooping up the power-up icons.
For example, if you get the frozen player power-up, one of your opponent's three players is frozen on the ice for a limited amount of time. This acts as a power play of sorts since you have a temporary one-man advantage.
You also have power-ups to make goalies huge or tiny, one that causes shots to be extra fast, and another that allows for a goal to count as two. This is just a small sampling as there are several more power-ups that are present within the game.
The core gameplay is actually rather balanced and feels very much like NHL 09, just jazzed up with a huge amount of Red Bull. The action is frantic and non-stop, the hits are a bit exaggerated, and the results are often rather zany.
Hockey purists may be a bit disappointed because the rules are thrown out the window in this game. There are no face-offs, the puck is always in play, and offsides is not in the rulebook anymore. Penalties are a concept laughed at in the world of 3-on-3 NHL Arcade. This is not a bad thing though, and it helps the game differentiate itself from NHL 09.
Nevertheless, there is no hiding the fact that this is basically NHL 09 with the rules thrown out and power-ups added into the mix. Either way, the general gameplay is technically very solid and is fun.
Lack of Variety Is a Killer
In the end, while the gameplay is a different and fun experience, the game cannot escape the fact that it does not have much to offer, outside of playing exhibition games against the computer or against friends (either online or off).
This is where the concept of 3-on-3 NHL Arcade falls apart. Even at $10, the game just feels bare-bones when it comes to modes. There are no actual NHL teams, which I feel is a detriment to the game. In my opinion, it would have been better if each NHL team was in the game, thereby forcing you to find a team that plays your style, à la NBA Jam.
Looks like he's going to have some issues scoring.
Is the Game Worth It?
So here is the $10 question: Is this game worth your money? Yes and no. I could see this game succeeding if people set up leagues and/or tournaments where they play against each other -- after all the core gameplay is pretty fun.
However, outside of that realm, this game just does not fit the price tag. On PSN alone, you could buy some original PSone games for the same price, and they also offer much, much more bang for the buck.
So, buy NHL Arcade if you cannot get enough hockey or you have friends to play the game with. Otherwise, avoid it.
On The Ice: It is a fun game. It can also be challenging when facing off against the CPU, but the lack of modes just kills the game.
Graphics: The bobble-head graphics look is kind of cool. It is a different look that adds to the zaniness of the game.
Sound: Decent, although I must admit the human imitating the menu sounds is kind of annoying to me. The sound neither adds nor detracts from the experience.
Entertainment Value: With friends and when online, this game is fun. Outside of that, you will be ready to move along after a few games.
Learning Curve: One minute. As soon as you get a look at the control scheme while in the loading menu, you are set.
Score: 6.5 (Decent)