This past hockey season was a tough one for me since my beloved Red Wings choked away a chance at back to back Stanley Cups. In addition to that unfortunate moment in history, one of my all-time favorite sports-gaming franchises, NHL 2K9, was still struggling to find its way. But with a full development cycle under their belt, the developers at Visual Concepts will hopefully deliver an impressive game in 2009. All right, now let's get to it.
Graphics and Presentation
When they are the sole developers of a game, The developers at Visual Concepts have always done an exceptional job. NHL 2K10 appears to be no different -- NHL 2K10 looks absolutely beautiful this year. The player models look great, and the arena details and lighting look to be some of the best available in any console-sports title.
And if there is one area where the 2K hockey franchise has always shined, it is in the area of presentation. 2K10 includes every team's actual pregame introductions, along with player-specific rituals such as Ovechkin cooling his stick off. The commentary, stat overlays and cut scenes all look to be rock solid, and even the new in-game menu system looks to be extremely slick and user friendly. Visually, NHL 2K10 looks extremely polished, and the developers at Visual Concepts should be given some major credit for their attention to detail.
That’s right, NHL 2K10 includes the Winter Classic. Even if you think the game is cheesy (by the way you’re not a true hockey fan if you think that), you have to admit that the mere inclusion of this mode is quite impressive. This is something I have wanted in an NHL game the last three years, so I am ecstatic to see it being included in 2K10.
Admittedly, I think social networking and Twitter are some of the worst inventions in the history of man. That being said, the ability to create a real-time blog by uploading pictures and videos from a game you just recently finished is undeniably cool. Even though I disdain real-life status updates, being able to tell my buddies about my latest battle on the ice has me giddy with anticipation. Here’s a Twitter feed for you: "Christian is super psyched about being able to blog about his NHL 2K10 teams...tee hee."
NHL 2K10 looks to make some big strides this year, will the execution fulfill the promises?
I am basing this information off the various videos I have seen online, but it still appears that 2K10 will once again rely on the one-timer for a majority of scoring plays. This was something we all expected back in 2002, but it’s just not going to fly for me in 2009. If there are not deeper strategies in the game, I think the strategical aspect of the game will look out of place when paired with the game's sim-style presentation and overall attention to detail that I mentioned above. I am hoping the final retail version of the game will play a slower, more strategic game, especially on higher difficulty levels.
I don’t understand why 2K Sports doesn’t just admit the competition has a good control scheme. NHL 07 changed the way hockey is controlled forever, and it’s time for 2K to jump onto the full-on analog-stick bandwagon.
The day 2K realizes the impact shot-stick controls have had on the genre is the day the company will understand that great graphics, gameplay and presentation mean nothing without a standardized control scheme. Think about it, can you even imagine a football title releasing without icon-based passing? (Yeah, I see you over there Backbreaker.)
2K may be offering you the ability to have your online friend jump in and play as your opponent in your dynasty, which is definitely awesome, but it doesn't compare to the impact of the EASHL in EA's NHL series. With EA pushing those limits, 2K needs to bring something to the table to compete -- online franchise mode, anyone?
At the end of the day, it's nice to possibly have two solid hockey titles for gamers to enjoy during the 09-10 season. Now if only the Red Wings would win the Cup this year...