Game Guys Review: NHL 2K10 for the Xbox 360

10:16 PM, Oct 20, 2009   |    comments
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NHL 2K10 is the 10th year of the series, and the biggest improvements made in this years edition is the social aspect. It won't ask you to sign up for it's Facebook or follow you on twitter, it does offer you more options to play with your friends.

You can have a friend join you on you on- and off-line in a every multiplayer mode. You can have a friend join your team mid-season in franchise mode, or have them take on the opposition, as you work your way through the season. Multi-player is also available in pond hockey, and of course the quick game feature.

That's not the only social aspect because  if you have a account you can publish your franchise stats and standings and upload game highlights and screenshots to your personal page, for some online blog boasting.

So that's what's new, now on to what's good and what's not so good. The opening menu is a little confusing. From the load screen you get a menu offering you a quick match feature. To find the other options you need to navigate through a few menus. I figure that this is part of the games designers efforts to make it easier to 'pick up and play' but at first I figured I just missed a screen.

When your done navigating the menus (or if you just press start launching the quick game) the start of game looks great. Each team got an all new rink intro, and being a hockey fan from the east coast, a lot of the arena look good. In the quick games considered scrimmages there isn't much of a crowd, but if you switch to franchise mode, the more you win the more fans you get. So you have some incentive to sell out the house.

The game claims to include true-to-life character models but I think a lot of the close ups of still look blocky, and a lot of the characters look alike. The refs cube/circle lego head is the worst.

While the faces aren't the best the character models look good, the jersey's look like they are on a human being instead of a wire frame, and the animations are smooth, especially in the cut away post goal celebrations.

Now to the gameplay, and the biggest issue is  the default settings. The game plays slow (slow skaters), and is full of penalties(makes game play slower). The first time I hit the ice, I swear my players spent more time in the penalty box then they did on the ice. I couldn't skate for more than a few minutes without a hooking or boarding calls that sent someone to the box, and the flow of the game was stopped for icing and offsides call.

The speed of the game is incredibly slow. It makes it hard to throw a check or hit a break away. The skaters just moved like they were in molasses. The right trigger still kicks in turbo, but it barely makes a difference. The stick moves on a little awkward, and switching from a forward to a defense man also left a second or two in lag time, as the AI player finishes what he was doing, and then you can take over.

When I  did check someone they would often hold on to the puck. I would lay a check down, take the AI down to their knees but he would still come up with the puck.

Anyway the game gives you about a thousand slider bars to change the options, which include turning down penalty sensitivity (or turning it off)  and speeding up the game. When you get the setting to a place that is comfortable for you, it's time to score score score.

The game is less about realism, and more about hockey. There were games where you and the AI would put away seven or eight goals in 15 minutes. I swear I heard San Jose Sharks commentators Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda say "Makes you wish you could spread these goals across a few games" every single time.

You have two options using the buttons or the duel sticks to handle the puck. When it comes down to it well crafted one-timer will score a lot of the time, breakaways are a mixed bag, and scoring off a rebound is almost a guarantee. Get the goalie out of position and just tap it in off the rebound.

Still having to adjust all of the settings to get the game into a fun playable place is a little off. I think that really sums up my entire experience with the game, it's not as pick up and play as it should be, using the bumpers to control a lot of the action, buttons usually used for menus or re-loading, but you do get the hang of it rather quickly. If you want a game thats more blades of steal then actual NHL this is a great pick up. It's the way to separate it's self from the other hockey game out there, and does a good job. Still I have a feeling this game will be over shadowed by its competitors.

- Game Guy Barry White


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