Strap on your skates, its time to hit the puck, and the other team, the referee, members of the audience,…
NHL 2K10 is this years entry by 2K Sports into the hockey games market. Being that there are generally only two games of note in this category, the question on everyone’s lips is probably “which game is better?”. Well, I am not telling you (although hints may be dropped)
Starting the game up will bring the player face to face with the menu (oh! the shock!) containing a myriad of options and game modes. Game modes include everything from a simple practice and a fun game of pond hockey through to the more serious playoffs mode or a full NHL season. The player can also indulge in some Zamboni racing if the situation demands it. Creating your own team is an option, as is taking the team online and joining a league.
Online play has been enabled through pretty much all of the game modes, allowing the player to join with mates and enjoy the delights of the NHL. This can mean anything from you and a mate controlling a team each, through to massive six players per team matches. You can even create a team and have your mates help you to climb the online leader boards.
The controls in 2K10 are made to be simple to grasp, allowing the player to put the game in and get playing with ease. Once you have realised that it is a simple button press to pass, another to shoot and a third to perform a speed boost, then you can start beating the opposition. There is, of course, more to it than that, though not much. Compared to the OTHER NHL game, this game seems much more of a casual experience than a hardcore simulation. Is that really a bad thing?, I hear you ask. Well, no, not to start with. But after a while, I found myself wanting a bit more control and maybe some less daft team mates.
A major problem with the game is the AI, both on your team and the opposition. Goalies are prone to making laughable mistakes and the players sometimes rush off in the wrong direction for no reason. Whilst this can make for some entertaining moments, and it certainly makes it easier to score, I come away feeling like I have been cheating and should be sent to the corner of the room as punishment.
The character animations also leave a lot to be desired. There is not much by way of fluidity from your team and it certainly does not add to the immersion that you should feel. Ice hockey is a very fast paced game, and in NHL 2K10 I feel like maybe the ice is slightly melted and everyone is having to work extra hard to skate. Other than that, the characters themselves are faithfully represented in the game and the playing areas look great, much better than last years effort.
The sounds within the game also seem a little lacklustre. The soundtrack itself is great, but the sound effects seem a little dull. The commentary is great, but after a few games it will start repeating itself.
Taking the game online is the way to get the most out of NHL 2K10. It is great fun teaming up with friends or playing against them, and with all of the different modes available for multiplayer, you will have plenty to do for a long time to come.
I don’t want to use the word “casual”, but this game is certainly the least serious of the two. If you are heavily into Ice Hockey and want a true simulation, then this is not for you. However, for anyone that fancies a quick game of hockey with mates, and is more interested in having a laugh than the technical accuracies of the game, this is the one for you. Its not perfect, but it is great fun.