NHL 2005 (Xbox)

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Product Information
EA Sports returns to the ice for another season with its 13th annual edition of the popular NHL series. While designed to maintain the winning mix of playability and accuracy for which the series is known, NHL 2005 also adds a few notable features. Gamers who master the new "Open Ice Control" system will be able to switch quickly from player to player -- even those not currently in control of the puck -- allowing their squad to set up passes and one-timers, rush the net for rebounds, or double-team a threatening forward. Along with the game's "Total Player Awareness" features, which are designed to allow timing-based passes and aimed shots, skilled gamers can learn to use all six men on the ice like a single, dominating, well-oiled machine.

Individual player personalities are more prominent in this year's game, as specific AI and animations have been added to reflect the real-life athletes' tendencies, toward agility versus power, for example, or offensive versus defensive play. The game's skating engine has been revamped as well, designed to offer more direct control without sacrificing the feeling of realistic momentum. Other favorite features and options return from previous years, including a refined dynasty mode that features quick and accessible informational updates, and a greater focus on the meat-and-potatoes management challenges a real GM faces in running a successful franchise. In addition to skating as any of the 30 NHL teams in standard modes, gamers can also compete for the World Cup of Hockey, as one of the top eight national teams, and play in re-creations of the actual international arenas that host the tournament.