Conclusion: The gameplay shows an interesting duality – the quickness of the game and the nature of how skaters actually re-act on the ice surface has never been better captured by anyone before this game, BUT, the game’s AI completely ruins this. I was impressed the first time I saw a defender actually skate properly and not peel off while back-pedaling to deliver a hit, but after seeing that same defender hopelessly out of position and watching the defense routinely be skated...
Excerpt: Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest player ever to lace up a pair of skates. During the Hall of Famer's 20-year career, Wayne scored 894 goals and 1963 assists for a total of 2857 points. He won seven straight Art Ross Trophies, ten in total. He broke and set records for most goals in a season (92), assists (163) and points (215). He also led the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cup Championships, notching two Conn Smythe trophies as playoff MVP along the way.
Excerpt: It was only two years ago that the NHL was throwing around the buzzword “contraction.” The popular theory at the time was that the NHL was seriously considering folding a handful of its franchises due to market strength, the team’s ability to draw, the inability to be competitive financially, and, perhaps most importantly, the watering down of the league’s talent pool from the too much expansion.
Conclusion: Featureswise, Gretzky is a marginally deeper package than it was last year. The franchise mode is certainly better than it used to be; it does a better job of keeping you up to speed on the financial aspects of the team and where you stand with the owners. It's also got the full AHL license, meaning you can use and play as authentic minor-league teams, complete with accurate rosters, if so inclined.
Pros: Wayne vs Wayne mode is a ridiculous hoot, Nice-looking player models, Relatively deep franchise mode, Solid online play.
Cons: Gameplay can't decide between arcade and simulation style, Bad goalie AI and ugly passing mechanics, Terribly stilted animations, Franchise mode has bugs, Rosters are way, way out of date.