Before I begin I will admit that I have never seen a Hockey game in my life. I know absolutely nothing about the sport so I was hoping that Old Time Hockey will ease me in and give me all the info I needed. Was I so wrong. Instead I get misleading instructions and very unresponsive gameplay.
The game is split into two modes; exhibition and story. I was surprised that there was no tutorial mode to begin with so dived straight into exhibition mode (on easy) to try and understand how to play. This turned into one of the most frustrating experiences ever. Before starting I checked the help section for controls and it boiled down to X to pass and change player with O in control of tackling and shooting. Very similar to the two button control found in Fifa. Now armed with this knowledge I jumped into the thinking I stood a chance. Again I was wrong. The player movement and the actual pressing of the buttons is horrendous. There was so much delay in the pressing of the buttons I was just mashing them hoping something happened. The player movement is bad too. I know that moving on ice is different than moving on grass but this is just ridiculous. You glide over the ice like an delicate ice skater rather than a strong built sportsman. The change player button only works when it feels like it and when it does work the transition interferes with play. The shooting mechanic feels just broken with shots flying in all directions other than the goal and the worse of it is that My opponents don’t have this issue. To this day I have scored 2 goals and lost about 10 games.
One thing I did know about hockey is that fighting is allowed. As I played various matches I noticed that players can change mood and before you know it, a fight will break out.
You have control of the fight with block and punch action but like the main game, it is delayed and broken.
Like every event in the game, when a fight happens seems very random and I hate how it interrupts the flow of the game. I might be getting a little use to the broken controls and then I have to attempt to play a broken mini game. I imagine it being comparable to playing a FPS that has tennis matches in between fights. Bonkers it may sound but this is what it feels like.
I understand that I cannot win them all but the issue here is the steep learning curve and the fact that the controls just don’t work. It is not fun to play. Maybe if I understood the game more I would find it entertaining but that aside, the same feels broken. It disheartening to see when you check a lot of the control lag was fixed in the last update. This means it was worse at some point! Damn.
Graphically the game has a charm from times gone by. Uniforms have a rugish appearance that are backdrops for the team’s bold colour schemes. The one thing it gets right is the atmosphere. With the colourful uniforms and the organ music playing in the background, you feel like you are a sporting event. It is a pity I cannot get too lost in it though as I spent the majority of my time working out where the damn puck was in the screen.
Old Time Hockey is a good idea from the minds of hockey fans but in practice it just fails. Targeting a game to a very niche audience (especially in the UK) is bad practice. Maybe if you are a larger developer you may have a chance but as an indie studio, I feel bad choices have been made. Maybe if I was from the other side of the pond I’d love this but this is not the case. I went in blind hoping to learn about hockey and I left hating the game more with no more knowledge than I started with.
Boy do I hate hockey now.
Old Time Hockey (PS4) - 3/10
- Looks Good
- Fun Soundtrack
- Bad Tutorial
- Unresponsive Controls
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