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GAMES FIT FOR KINGS: Video game reviews

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When pro hockey players aren't playing games, they spend their time practicing, resting, or preparing for their next match, right? Well, yes and no. When they're not playing, practicing or resting, they usually are playing another game. But these days we're talking video games. Home video games have been around for more than a quarter century, but in the last five years technological advances have taken the video game industry to a level of sophistication that was unimaginable back in the 1970's. These days the graphics, artificial intelligence and depth of story can make sports games nearly as realistic as the real thing. And today's action/adventure video games rival anything seen on the big screen. In fact, with home entertainment systems being what they are these days, the games are often played on "big screens" at home. When athletes take to the road, now they take their video games with them, to play in hotel rooms and even on airplanes as they travel between cities. In this first of an occasional series, we'll hear from some of the L.A. hockey players about what they like (and dislike) in video games, and catch up on the latest titles they are playing. and have played videogames since they were kids. FOXSports.com caught up with them as they were engaged in a video hockey game after a recent practice in Los Angeles. : I've been playing video games for many years. When I was younger I had a Commodore 64 computer and then Atari. But I really got into them about 10 years ago (while playing junior hockey) as a great way to kill time. I like games these days because they're so realistic. Many people will never play in the NHL, so this is a way to see what it's like. For me, I'll never be a Navy Seal, but this way I can get close. Many of the guys on our team like video games on flights after games, when we're still wound up from our hockey games. Athletes like to compete all the time, whether on or off the ice. These games aren't exactly relaxing, but we love to play them. : When I was in juniors, my roommate and I chipped in for our first Nintendo system. It's a great way to pass time. When I play I can still have the competitiveness that I have in my everyday job, but it's also nice to have a type of competition where the end result doesn't really matter. We have a pretty good rivalry between a lot of the guys on the team. We bring our systems on the road and we battle it out in football, hockey and a lot of the other games, and it's nice to be able to do that. The guys come together in competition and have a lot of fun. For me, most sports games are pretty cool. On our team half the guys like sports games, half the guys like shooting games. And we like the ones where four players can play at the same time.

Hockey games

Since Ian and Jamie are pro hockey players, we thought we'd ask them about some current popular hockey video games: Laperriere: I like the views of the ice on the hockey games — I wish I could have those views when I'm playing on the ice — I'd love to see all the players who are open! Storr: It's a neat feeling to play a game that you're really in. Right now I'm disappointed with my ratings (laughs). I think I'm better than that! It's also a little disappointing when my friends tell me I suck in the game! But it's pretty neat to be a part of something that will be around forever. EA SPORTS NHL 2003: Laperriere: This game is very realistic. You're close to the ice, and the players really look like the real thing. And I like the camera angles on this one the best. EA Sports always has great games. Storr: I think EA NHL is the most realistic of the hockey games. Because of the way it's set up sometimes you're passing blind, but for realism EA is the best.
NHL 2K3 (SEGA): Laperriere: I think the coaches would like this one, but for me the camera angle is a little too high. But I did like that in this game the players could really grind along the boards, which is where I spend most of my game. Storr: This has a lot of good qualities, but the camera view was too high. It was good to see everything, but a lot of times the little one-on-one moves (the things you identify on TV with players) you don't see as much. I did think it had a lot of realistic saves, and the best goalie animations I've seen in a hockey game.
NHL HITZ 2003 (MIDWAY): Laperriere: I like this one because I'm in it a lot, and it has all the hitting and fighting. It's not as realistic as the others, but still a lot of fun. Storr: NHL Hitz is a great game that gives you the best of both worlds. It gives kind of a spoof to hockey, with 3-on-3 play and more fights, plus aliens, and other weird things like rain and snow. But it also gives the same kind of realistic play as the other games.

OTHER TYPES OF GAMES

Just because they play hockey doesn't mean that's all these guys like to play in the video game world. We asked them what other types of games they enjoy. Laperriere: I mostly like sports and strategy games, like Syphon Filter (which might be my favorite of all time) and Medal of Honor, where you really feel like you're there. Lately I've been playing Metroid Prime, which is like an adventure game on a spaceship, but instead of using a group of people, you get a first person point-of-view. Storr: I tend to like first-person view games (where you're walking around with a gun) and also games that have lots of levels to achieve, as opposed to just walking around fighting lots of people, where like all of a sudden there are 100 people and you have to kill them all. I also prefer games that are "movie-like" realistic, such as Metroid Prime, which is more of an outer space exploration game than a shoot-em-up, or Time Splitters, where you go forward and backward in time to fight aliens, cowboys and the like. I mostly play the more strategic games; when I've tried "horror" type games I can't sleep at night, so I stick to sports and strategy games.
Tagged: Kings, Ian Laperriere

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