NHL Hitz Pro E3 2003 Preshow Report

Midway's over-the-top hockey game is going pro this year.


The NHL Hitz series has, for the past two years, delivered some of the fastest hockey action around. It took plenty of liberties with the rules, though, and many serious hockey players probably felt that Hitz wasn't to be taken seriously, as if it were a parody of "real" hockey. Midway is attempting to combat that perception this year with the introduction of NHL Hitz Pro, which takes the rules of hockey a little more seriously but doesn't sabotage the series' solid gameplay in the process.

The main difference in Hitz Pro is that it features a full-on, five-on-five game of hockey. The game will have standard hockey rules in place, but the penalties will work a little bit like the fouls worked in Midway's last big basketball game, NBA Showtime. In Hitz Pro, you'll see a referee meter. The dirtier you play, the higher it goes. If you clean up your play and stop knocking opposing players over from behind, the meter slowly drains. If you don't back off and the meter fills completely, even minor penalties are called and power-play rules apply.

While the game still plays roughly the same as the previous Hitz games, a few really nice tweaks have been made that will please hockey fans. The developers have added some nice contextual shots and motions to the game that really help things like wraparounds come alive. You can also execute a flip pass from behind the opposing goal that flips the puck up over the net so a teammate can bat it out of the air and into the goal. The game's secondary modes, such as hockey school, have also been beefed up.

While NHL Hitz Pro will appear on all three major consoles, only the PlayStation 2 version will be online, and it will be broadband-only. The features for the game's online mode have not yet been determined, but the developers are attempting to include many of the same tournament-like aspects that will go into the company's upcoming football game, NFL Blitz Pro.

All three versions of NHL Hitz Pro are scheduled to hit store shelves in late September.

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