Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2 logo

Ah yes, the inevitable sequel. But what you can add to a game like ice-hockey if you've done it once? Very little, actually.

In Gretzky 2, you get the choice of which team to manage (USA or Canada), difficulty level, tactics and so on, before getting onto the match proper. You don't have to control a player yourself if you don't want to, but if you do you'll have to get used to the odd but ultimately useful control system.

Instead of moving a character directly you move a cursor and the player attempts to move to it on the rink, his speed being determined by the distance of the cursor from him. It's difficult to see your player because it's only indicated by the colour of his helmet, but after a few games you get used to the system.

The graphics aren't spectacular and neither is the sound but it is a solid game with quite a lot of hidden gameplay.

Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2 logo

Nun ist sie also da, die mit Spannung erwartete Fortsetzung des erfolgreichsten Eishockey-Games aller Zeiten. Ob Hersteller Bethesda gegenüber dem Vorgänger wirklich und wahrhaftig noch eins draufsetzen konnte?

Auf den ersten Blick scheint sich fast nichts geändert zu haben, die wesentlichen Neuerungen liegen im Detail. Perspektive und Steuerung sind daher gleich geblieben, jedoch wurden die Menüs um zahlreiche Optionen erweitert und sind jetzt wesentlich komplexer.

Mit einem Editor lassen sich Mannschaftsaufstellung und Taktik einstellen bzw. abspeichern, es dürfen Teams vom Vorgänger übernommen werden, sehenswerte Torszenen werden am Spielende wiederholt, und drei unterschiedlich pfeifende Schiedsrichter bringen (mehr) Spannung ins Spiel.

Aber das Wichtigste: Zwei Spieler können nun statt gegeneinander auch miteinander im selben Team antreten!

Ansonsten hat man auf Bewährtes gesetzt - vier Mannschaftsstärken, variable Spieldauer, Prügeleien, drei Spielmodi (Training, Spiel, Turnier), einstellbare Spielergeschwindigkeit und -farben, dazu jede Menge Statistiken.

Grafik, Sound, Spielbarkeit, Realitätsnähe und die gewaltige Optionsvielfalt sichern Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2 zwar erneut den verdienten Meistertitel, eine Frage sei jedoch trotzdem gestattet: Hätte man die Neuerungen wirklich nicht auf einen Datadisk zum freundlichen Update-Preis von etwa 40 Märkern anbieten können?

Denn mag Wayne Gretzky 2 für neue Kufen-Künstler auch erste Wahl sein, für Besitzer des Vorgängers hat sich zu wenig geändert, um die Anschaffung zu rechtfertigen. (pb)

Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2 logo

Err... Wayne who? Okay, okay, so Wayne Gretzky may not be a name that's on the tip of everybody's tongues over here, but across the Big Pond it's a different story, where he's acclaimed as 'The Great One' because of his supreme prowess in the noble art of ice hockey.

But while the boy Wayne may be a whizz on the ice, his performance on the computer screen is distinctly less impressive.

Having fought your way through the copy protection and some comprehensive but very drab menu screens, you're into the game. Now the appealing thing about ice hockey is that it's probably the nearest any real-life sport gets to Speedball, being fast, violent and frequently ending up in a huge fists-flying ruck.

Massive potential for an all-out action computer game, you might think. And you'd be right. Unfortunately, if that's what you think you're getting here then I'm afraid you're going to be sorely disappointed.

For Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2 is, as Bethesda Software is keen to stress throughout the game's documentation, not just a mere game, it's a simulation. Thus, instead of large well-animated sprites slapping the puck about on a big scrolling ice rink, we have tiny, tiny blobs milling about on an uninteresting top-viewed arena that merely scrolls left and right.

Control (something of a misnomer here) is not brilliant. With a joystick the game's unplayable because you need two fire buttons, involving much fumbling with the keyboard, while with a mouse (slightly better) movement is achieved by positioning the pointer on the pitch and letting the player's on-screen persona drift towards it.

To get anywhere in the game involves making lots of complex plays requiring loads of key presses.

True, the game's all very realistic and after a lot (and I mean a lot!) of practice things do start to come together and some enjoyment is reaped. You've just got to ask yourself if you're really a big enough fan of professional ice hockey to make the effort. Trouble is, I've got a nasty feeling that the answer for 99.9999% of the Great British Public will be a resounding 'No'.

PUCKER UP The big pity about Wayne Gretzky 2 is that it all starts really well, with a smart intro showing a pad-clad skater (our Wayne, presumably) skating on-screen past a crowd of screaming, cheering spectators. Suddenly, he lobs a puck straight at the innocent viewer then - shock! - the TV screen shatters, causing shards of glass to fly out of the screen revealing the monitor's innards. (Though, of course, not really). The first time you see it I bet it makes you jump. Enjoy it while you can, though, because it's the game's only real highlight.