There’s a certain amount of realism lacking from most sports games, with the gamer acting as a spirit that possesses the game’s players at will, switching between the roles seamlessly. In Big Win Hockey, you do what a manager really does and watch the game unfold without controlling anyone. Of course, your players are actually cards, so maybe we shouldn’t focus on realism.
Big Win Hockey is the latest in the Big Win sports series from HotHead Games, and like Big Win Soccer before it, you don’t need to be a sports fan to play. The game is all about collecting cards and using them to play against other players online. The cards are available in packs ranging from bronze to gold, costing coins and cash to purchase. We loved the little touch added when you choose to buy a pack, and have to pick from a line-up of wrapped packs, just like we used to do (sometimes still do) in comic book stores.
Coins and cash make up the freemium model of Big Win, and it’s worth pointing out that there are other options than opening your wallet to earn cash, like using the game to post to your Facebook or Twitter accounts. Coins are earned for each game, and cash is earned (slowly) by leveling up, which is done by accruing fans.
Playing Big Win Hockey is all about setting up your team to make it as strong as possible before matches. This means you’ll have to sort and switch around your cards to build a good team and boost their skills. Most of your time is spent tweaking the players and choosing Big Impact cards, which come into play automatically as your match plays out. Big Impact cards do a wide variety of things, and their effects are noticeable as the games play out, but they don’t totally decide the game.
They just got lucky.
Once you’ve gotten your team the way you want it and chosen which Big Impact cards to use in your next match, your online opponent does the same thing. When you’ve both taken your turns, you watch the actual hockey match play out, with no further input from either of you.
So your little hockey players will play through a match, with your Big Impact cards glowing whenever they are used. For instance, one card might make your goalie act like a puck magnet, while others let your players score on some unlikely shots. The computer’s random use of Big Impact cards is make your matches interesting to watch, but the lack of any interaction or even the option of a replay without the constant overhead camera view is disappointing.
Sports fans and gamers eager for card managing nostalgia will both enjoy this one, but since it only has one mode, we can’t promise that it will keep you coming back for more.