I finally got the game - after trading in something like 8 games, I was able to purchase NHL Slapshot for $12 and change. Pretty sweet, considering my aversion to paying $70. So how does the game measure up?
Admittedly, I haven't played too much of the game yet. I jumped into a quick exhibition game, pitting my favourite Ottawa Senators against the despised Toronto Maple Leafs (which, for some reason, have a rating of 86 compared to Ottawa's 85). This was after spending about 15 minutes trying to put the stick peripheral together, which is not very well documented in either the game manual or the accompanying training video.
I then decided to play the new mode for this game, Peewee to Pro. It's exactly what it sounds like - you take a player (which you can either create or select from existing players) from the Peewee leagues all the way up to the NHL. Thankfully you can start at any level: Peewee, Bantam, Junior, or Pro; I say thankfully because the Peewee games can get a little tedious - thank goodness for 2 minute periods! However the games do get a little challenging after a few games, and gives you a good learning curve for playing with the stick. It's also beneficial that in both Peewee and Bantam there are no penalties or play stoppages, so you can get even more used to the controls.
There's no mode available to take full control of a team over the course of several seasons, but that's mostly because this game is not aimed at the people who would want to play NHL 11 (which unfortunately is me). Even more indicative of that is the ability to skip the season and jump right into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which is actually a feature that disappeared from previous iterations of the NHL franchise, so I appreciate it.
And in thinking about it, I really don't mind not being able to build a team the way you can in the regular NHL series. There will be online roster updates, and the ability is there to edit rosters, so it's still customizeable. I generally don't play more than a few seasons anyway, and the peewee to pro mode fills that gap well enough.
The soundtrack for this game is amazing (the Olé song notwithstanding). There are gems like The Final Countdown (yes, THAT song), The Twilight Zone, and Shipping Up to Boston. Overall, fun and awesome tunes.
As for graphics - well, they're standard EA graphics. Good player models, and great animations. The gameplay is good too, even if it does lean more toward arcade hockey. I can tell you it is certainly a lot of fun setting up goals (more so than scoring them - which is also a lot of fun!).
If you're hard-up for hockey realism, you're probably better off with NHL 2K11 for the wii - or NHL 11 if you have a PS3 or xbox. But if you prefer a fun game with great graphics and gameplay, NHL Slapshot is the game to go with.