NHL All-Star Hockey 98 is a pretty good hockey game.
While the PlayStation is being flooded with a variety of hockey games this season, the Saturn is experiencing a light shower of titles. When Virgin announced that it wouldn't be bringing NHL Powerplay, one of last year's better Saturn hockey games, to the Saturn this year, Sega scrapped its own hockey game and picked up the game. Powerplay 98 for the Saturn, Radical Entertainment's update to last year's version, is the result, and Sega has made a wise choice (all it had to do was change the name to keep its franchise in tact). A lot has been tweaked in NHL All-Star Hockey 98, and the finished product is an improvement over Powerplay 96 and worlds better than the last hockey game that Sega produced.
What's new to this year's version? For starters, Radical has ironed out the kinks in Powerplay's control; where last year's version felt stiff at times and didn't flow smoothly, this year's game lets continuous plays be pulled off in a natural fashion. The graphics have also been tweaked, the frame rate increased, and new camera angles added. These combined improvements give the game that extra layer of polish that Powerplay 96 seemed to be lacking.
Aside from the gloss though, NHL All-Star Hockey 98 does offer a definitive set of features that earn it its place under the Sega Sports banner. New to this version is a completely revamped AI engine as well as an enhanced statistic-tracking feature and the ability to create your own players. And to compete with EA Sports' NHL 98, the 1996 to 1997 season rosters and stats have been added, along with all the NHL team and player licenses. These bells and whistles complete All-Star 98 and give it the feature list Powerplay 96 didn't have.
Overall, NHL All-Star Hockey 98 is a pretty good hockey game. If you like the sport, you'll enjoy this game; the 3D graphics are smooth (although there is a noticeable slowdown at times), the play control is solid, and the laundry list of features adds to the realism. If you loved Powerplay, this title will knock your socks off, and for most hockey fans, this game will be more than adequate.