I’m just going to be flat out here. I’ve had my eye on this game since I first heard about it months ago. For one, it’s one of the first hockey games to grace the PC in ages, and two…it’s focused in 60’s-70’s era bush league hockey, you’re playing smash-mouth hockey in the golden age of ‘barns’. Bush league hockey is basically an overly aggressive small time hockey; beer, fights, blood, everything a growing boy needs. Old Time Hockey prides itself on dirty hits, fights, big mustaches, no helmets, 70’s afros, and even goalie fights…as it damn well should.
The first time I jumped into the game I streamed it and damn did I look terrible. I am used to the controls of the NHL series from EA. This is not the NHL series from EA. It took me a couple of frustrating games to realize that. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, let me break it down a bit more. I was playing looking for one-timers, avoiding fights, and trying to set up unnecessary plays. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU PLAY OLD TIME HOCKEY. You want to go for big hits, especially hip checks if you can pull those off. Hell yes you want to fight. Mini plays work, but they work better if your opponent is laying on the ground because of a check. Now controller wise, it is designed for a Xbox controller on PC, I used a Steam controller without issue. But if I wanted to use the more advanced controls I cannot on the Steam controller due to the fact it only has one thumb stick. Not a major issue. But if you only have a Steam controller, you will be limited. As a added bonus: There is a beer mode for the controller scheme. You can play one handed if you just so happen to be drinking a beer.
The controls of the players is nothing to stand up and cheer about, but it isn’t terrible once you play for a bit. I would overshoot players when trying to check them a lot. The fighting is a little rough, it’s more of a rock, paper, scissors game when you wait to see if you need to dodge. Switching between players can be frustrating at times due to not switching to the guy you are looking at or wanting. At times I needed to cycle a bit before I got the last guy between the goalie and their advancing scorer.
Gameplay wise the action is not extremely fast and it fits well overall. Now about those hits. When you knock down three people on the opposing team, you get on fire (Think NBA Jam). You skate faster, shoot harder, and of course hit harder in the style of close lines. After a bit you will start seeing people with a boxing glove above their heads, this means its on and they want to fight. It makes it hard just to hit them unless you telegraph a hip check, as trying to hit them causes a fight to ensue. If you piss a guy off enough he will want to fight with his stick up, then a stick fight will break out. Score on a goalie 3 times while he is on fire. He will then want to fight. Sound amazing? Oh yeah it is. Fights can cause blood and injuries if they are already exhausted, and if you win? You get a chance to continue feeding the opponent with fists while they are on the ground. It’s glorious.
One bonus that Old Time Hockey has that the NHL series does not is that it actually has a story line. Here is a clip from their website to better explain the story mode: ‘Experience taking a rag-tag hockey team facing a folding season to the championship game to save them. Blue-collared hockey at its best, this season is filled with you needing to navigate the rumours, the pranks, and the realities of a bus-travelling hockey team in the 70s. Read through newspaper articles, unlock hockey cards, grow your team’s morale, and navigate to different parts of the Story Mode from your HUB. A mini-calendar, stats summary, and live ticker are all part of your HUB to keep track of what’s going on around the Bush League.’ It was fairly entertaining. All of the story modes story and whats currently happening will reflect in your goals on what to do in the game. Some aren’t required, like “Don’t let them score 6 goals” or “Get 40+ PIM”. But later in the season you start getting “Win the game” or “Score 3 times while on fire then provoke the goalie”. These are fun challenges to try for during the game. If you complete these objectives you will slightly raise your team’s level to help them get further in the season.
All in all this game is fun to play. My little guilty pleasure of the year so far. Yes it does have some issues but if you can look past those any hockey fan will enjoy the break from fast paced over complicated NHL to a glory day slug fest arcade-like hockey game, especially PC users at a $11.99 price tag.
Note: GameOctane received a code for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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+Fun to pick up and play
+Story definitely adds to the gameplay
+Rewarded to play like a goon
+HOCKEY ON PC
-Player movement isn't too great
-Non-hockey fans will probably pass on this game
-Instant replay would be amazing
-No online multiplayer