Gameplay is hockey at its rawest, action-packed level. Although there are stoppages of play-- e.g. roughing and icing, the referee is quite lenient, so you can typically play as aggressively as you want to get the puck. The only penalty comes after a fight, where the loser gets sent to the penalty box. Blades of Steel has a great fighting interface that resembles arcade fighting games, and is a great mini-game in and of itself. Gameplay in the rink has been simplified to basic pass and shoot function-- the only way to direct a shot is to follow the arrow that constantly moves up and down, and even that is only available for penalty shots. You control one player at a time, either on offense or defense, with the ability to switch to the goalie at any time. Controls, both via keyboard and joystick, are excellent, although naturally the joystick is far superior and allows for a quicker response time. Player graphics are somewhat blocky and too small, but the animations, especially puck movement, are very smooth.
The bottom line is simple: anyone looking for a realistic, statistics-galore simulation will be very disappointed, but the game is simply a must-have for everyone else who's a hockey fan. Two thumbs up!
Note: Unfortunately, none of the sequels of the game was ever ported to the PC, perhaps owing to lackluster sales of this PC version. After a decade, Konami ported the NES version to Gameboy color in 2000, a great move that brings the game to millions of new gamers. Unfortunately, its earlier Nintendo 64 version was a failure due to the fact that it strayed too far from the action-packed formula, and ended up as a mediocre hockey sim that is neither realistic nor fun.