NHL 2k9 (360)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Thursday, September 25, 2008

Graphics: 8.00
Sound: 8.50
Gameplay: 8.50
Replays: 8.00
Gamelength: 8.00

2k Sports has shipped their latest hockey title for the Xbox 360, “NHL 2k9” and as far as I can tell, it’s a solid game.

Hockey fans know when it’s that time of year. Each and every season, the newest licensed and unlicensed games hit the store shelves and quickly reach the hands of any interested fan of the sport. As such, it’s no surprise that “NHL 2k9” is here, but is it as good as or any better than previous titles in the series? Let’s find out. Throw on your hockey gear, grab a stick and meet me on the ice for a lengthy game of “NHL 2k9”.

In comparison to sports titles of the 2006-2008 seasons, the graphics in this particular game are far superior. This series has a come quite a long way and it definitely shows. However, it’s not perfect. While the ice, shadows, clothing and framerate are all wonderful, almost everything else could use a fair amount of improvement. At the very least, spectators should be highly improved, but that’s to be expected with nearly any sports game. Spectators aside, though, this game is cosmetically attractive enough to leave fans satisfied.

As usual, the soundtrack will surely appeal to fans of rock and punk. Such bands as “NoFX” and “Pennywise” give this title an edge that can’t be overlooked and I know I certainly get pumped every time a song plays. As for the announcers, it’s no surprise that they’re varied and realistic. They never seem to get old or overly repetitious, although that probably depends on how frequently a given person plays the game. Everything else sounds pretty standard, but it’s not terrible. The sound of the hockey sticks, ice skates, players slamming into walls and virtually everything else sounds powerful and accurate. In short, the sound quality is great.

So now we get to the real deal. Everyone wants to know how the game ranks up versus the latest EA hockey game. As far as I’m concerned, this game is every bit as good as EA’s series at this point, but it’s definitely not geared towards the same audience. “NHL 2k9” is more for the casual hockey fan or newbie gamers. The major reason for this is the fact that all 3 major control schemes just aren’t perfect enough to play the game pro-style, but the over-the-top collisions are ridiculous as well. The default “Classic” control scheme is completely nostalgic and reminds me of the old PSX days, but a little quicker on the response time. “Evolution” is the “NHL 2k9” attempt at a pro-style control scheme, but it falls short because it’s simply not as good or tight as it should be. “Hybrid” is exactly as the name implies, but it seems like this option is just a random inclusion that serves no real purpose. The team and player roster is as accurate as you’d hope for, so fans will get the chance to play as their favorite players as often as they wish. There’s an extensive tutorial mode, as well as a nice little practice mode, so newbies will have no trouble at all figuring this game out. Aside from that, there’s a lot to do. There are the usual season and quick play options, but players also have the option to mess with franchises and player drafting. As for the online mode, up to 12 human players may join and duke it out on the ice for some potentially intense matches. I experienced no lag on Live, although those with slower connections may have trouble with a full 12 player game.

Overall, “NHK 2k9” is a well-made game that caters to the casual players and is a step in the right direction, but 2k Sports needs to work at this series and make some tweaks before it can truly compete with the EA series.

Pros:
-Obviously upgraded visuals.
-Accurate team and player roster.
-Plenty of modes to delve into.
-Online mode is typically lag-free and intense.
-Soundtrack is very awesome for fans of the genres.
-Extremely newbie friendly.

Cons:
-Spectators need some improvement.
-Hit detection is far too over-the-top.
-Serious hockey fans probably wont enjoy this as much as “NHL ’09”.

Bottom Line:
Serious hockey fans should definitely go with “NHL ’09”, but if you’re a casual player or new to the genre of hockey games, do yourself a favor and pick this game up.

Overall Rating: 8.00

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