The people at OGPlanet seem to be trying hard with Hockey Dash, but that might be the problem. Hockey Dash is a new (officially launched on June 9th) online multiplayer hockey game, and I have to admit, it looks really good. Typically, I don’t expect much from online video games in terms of graphics. Most MMO’s are capable of being very pretty, but unless you have a very expensive machine you usually end up turning the graphics to their lowest setting to get the smoothest experience you can. I didn’t have to do this with Hockey Dash and my PC is nothing to brag about. If you ever played the old Sega Dreamcast game “Jet Grind Radio” than you can expect a similar look from Hockey Dash. They make good use of cell shading with lots of bright colors and kooky outfits for your players. Sadly, at this point, that is about all there is to Hockey Dash.
Don’t get me wrong, the game play seems like it could be very in depth and to get good at the game would require a decent amount of video game skill, unfortunately getting to that point would take far too long as the controls are complex and unintuitive. At all times during play you have to be conscious of what all six keyboard buttons do in either offensive or defensive mode. I suppose I could just be dense, but I had trouble making the sort of split-second judgment needed for hockey with all of that to remember. Also the shooting system takes too long, leaving you completely vulnerable as you aim your shot. The biggest difficulty this game faces though is that it depends on the keyboard for directional movement when the mouse would have been a much more natural and precise way to go. When playing hockey it is absolutely necessary that you have freedom to easily move in any direction, but using the keys limits you in that you can’t just press diagonal, but have to consciously decide to press both keys down at once. Had they simply worked out a movement scheme with the mouse, say using the left button to go forward and the mouse itself to control direction, then from there worry about body checks and spins moves and the like, I think the game could have a much less boxed in and forced feel.
For now I can’t recommend playing this game (which requires registration and download and logging into the OGPlanet system to play) but it also in its early stages of development and online games tend to change a lot when they are still new. If they can find a way to make the game more fun, than it’s a definite win. But as it is it’s more like work than play, and no amount of pretty can make up for that.