NHL 2K10 ReviewSeptember 15, 2009
|Game Name:||NHL 2K10|
|Publisher(s):||Take Two Interactive|
|Developer(s):||Visual Concepts Entertainment|
|Genre(s):||Sports & Recreation|
|ESRB Rating:||E10 (Everyone +10)|
Had I played NHL 2K10 before I ever opened NHL 10, I might have liked it much more. As I started to log more and more minutes with the game that features Alex Ovechkin on the cover, it became harder and harder to fight the temptation to immediately begin comparing the two. And as much as I tried to stay objective and focus on reviewing 2K10 in a vacuum free from any NHL 10 biases, NHL 10 left such an indelible impression that 2K10 never stood a chance. While NHL 2K10 has some interesting niches, and can certainly not be blamed for simply trying to be a copy cat, it does have a ways to go if it wants stay on the same ice as NHL 10.
Simply put, if you’re expecting a full-out sports sim from NHL 2K10, you’re looking in the wrong direction. To be fair, hockey isn’t the most beloved sport in the US, so a full-on sim experience may not be what someone wants in a hockey game to begin with. I would imagine that’s the audience this game is aimed at. The first thing that stood out was how easy it was to score goals. A simple deke, or even just a crash left to right starting from the high slot, leads to easy goals. If goal-scoring is what you’re all about, then this game might not seem so bad. But as I found out when I played multiplayer, there’s a cheesy way to score goals, and I’m really not a fan of that.
The next thing I noticed was the lack of fluidity in the skating controls. At first I thought it was just my unfamiliarity with the franchise, with it being the first hockey title I have ever played from the 2K franchise, but the skating control is dreadful. I found myself urging my players to skate forward, firing the left stick up high in hopes my player would respond, but alas, only after a choppy pause did he begin to pick up any steam.
I’m personally not a fan of turbo, especially when it really doesn’t seem like the players get much of a boost. The skaters feel slow overall – and hockey is really a fast game – but that aspect is not captured too well in 2K10. The poor skating is even more noticeable when you combine it with poor computer AI. Too often, defensemen fail to hold the point on offense, or take a bad line on defense instead of sitting home on the net when the offense is on a break.
And if you’re a fan of the one-timer, forget about it. Finding a player open in the slot in front of the net doesn’t happen often, but if you manage to send him a saucer pass, there’s a pause just before he shoots it to the net – killing most chances to score that way.
I do like the face-off sequence, with the ability to tie it up in the circle. But it’s a process that definitely takes a lot of practice and timing – and there doesn’t seem to be a penalty if you take too many bad swipes and get sent out of the circle.
Overall, the skating needs to be heavily tweaked, and the cheesy goals taken away. The best part of NHL 2K10 is the presentation, but if the gameplay isn’t solid, no one (at least I won’t) will stick with the game for too long.
Graphics/Sounds (and Presentation, too)
If there’s one thing I was impressed with, it was the bells and whistles that come with NHL 2K10. First off, I’ve always been a fan of the menus – dating back to my love of them from 2K10’s NBA series. It’s just a chic way of getting around, and it’s much quicker to navigate through all the pre-game/in-game stuff that way. I was really surprised to hear Lupe Fiasco’s “Superstar”, as part of the game’s soundtrack – but it was a nice surprise. During in-game play, a picture-in-picture will pop up during any line changes which is a nice element that beefs up the presentation value. Drew Remenda and Randy Hahn are on the call for NHL 2K10, and while they are good, sometimes the timing of the commentary is off – or dropped in spots that don’t make much sense. I actually saved this part of the review for last, because it was the part I thought I had the most good things to say – but I’ve already run out of them.
Online play comes in two forms. Quick matches via the quick play screen, or joining leagues. The league option was a bit too cumbersome for me, as I didn’t want to commit to anything that I felt would make me have to play the game longer. I worked in a couple quick matches, and found an opponent who was exploiting the cheesy goal moves – instantly leaving me frustrated and incensed. The gameplay doesn’t suffer in terms of speed from the online matchups, which was a plus, however.
Unfortunately for me, many of the achievements are really based on playing the game for a long time. Scoring x number of goals or assists or hits aren’t really challenging so much as they are time consuming. And with all due respect, I really don’t see myself committing time to a game where the gameplay is so frustrating.
If your cup of tea is an arcade-style hockey game, then by all means, this might be your game. But if arcade hockey is what you wanted, NHL 3 on 3 is probably a better match. At least with that game, you know what you’re getting. It’s not just a game masquerading as a sim, but plays like an arcade game. Unfortunately, NHL 2K10 is just too arcade-like for my taste. While it offers some great options in the franchise mode – you know something is wrong with a game when it offers to drive a zamboni during intermissions. Really? Driving a zamboni? And then tying an achievement to it? Time would have been better spent on refining the skating and play in front of the net, or souping up the defensemen’s AI, or a list of other things I could recommend. NHL 2K10 boasts arguably the greatest hockey player in the world on their cover in Alexander Ovechkin, but even he’d be upset with how slow he moves in a game where he’s the cover boy. Better luck next year, 2K10, better luck next year.