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NHL 2K8 got too complex. There was too much going on. When I picked up the controller I didn't even know how to shoot!

In so many words, that's how Jeff Thomas, VP of sports development at Visual Concepts, summed up NHL 2K8. This year though, the series is now at Visual Concepts (best known for the stellar NBA 2K franchise), and the VC guys are all about bringing the "fun" back to the NHL 2K series.

Right off the bat some might be worried that "fun" doesn't mean "sim." It's something I worried about as well, and while I won't really know whether "fun" doesn't mean "arcadey" until a later date, Jeff Thomas assured me that this is still a sim series at heart. So when I inquired further about certain problems from NHL 2K8 that could be considered "fun" but "arcadey" (see: checking, final scores), he said that the checking would be toned down, and that there wouldn't be anymore 12-10 final scores.

Jeff went on to explain that "fun" means things like simplified controls that still have depth for the more experienced players. (If you liked the control scheme last year that will still be an option as well on 360/PS3.) It also means having presentation and gameplay elements that are fun to see and partake in. For example, there's an all-new fighting engine this year. Also during the playoffs you'll notice that the NHL players grow nice thick beards as the playoffs progress. Or if you win the Stanley Cup, then you can skate around holding the Cup above your head or pass the Cup off to a teammate; then when you're done celebrating you can take a team photo at the end to commemorate your Stanley Cup victory. Or it's something a little more silly, like being given the opportunity to drive the Zamboni during an intermission.

Now when it comes to Wii controls, Mark Thomas discussed how the folks at Visual Concepts spoke with Nintendo and one of the things Nintendo said was, don't get obsessed with the motion control. Visual Concepts took Nintendo's advice to heart. So what that means is you'll do things like check another person by pushing the Wii Remote and Nunchuck forward, or shoot by swinging the Wii Remote one way for a wrist shot, and another way for a slap shot, but you won't have to do insane things like make line changes by waggling your Wii Remote back-and-forth five times.

To give a more practical example, when it comes to passing you have a few options. You can either pass the more traditional way, or use the user interface and do point-to-point passing. Basically, that means there's a little cursor on the screen that you control by pointing the Wii Remote at different parts of the screen. This method allows you to chain passes together quickly by pointing at the various players.

The VC guys have also made sure that everything you can do in the 360/PS3 versions control-wise, is possible to do on the Wii version. In fact it seems like the Wii version will have everything the 360/PS3 versions do, except online play.

On the 360/PS3 front, while I didn't see anything besides the trailer, the game does look great graphically in the trailer. Visual Concepts totally redid the graphics engine this year and it seems to be paying off. Also everything will be happening in real time this year, so no more cut-scene-type moments after goals etc. And if you guys are sad about not having anymore 360/PS3 NHL 2K9 impressions, at least I can say that VC did promise that a demo will be releasing for the game in a few weeks.

At the very least it seems like Visual Concepts wants all you hockey fans back (shocker there). If the demo does release in a few weeks I would take that as a sign that they are proud of this new product, and want to give gamers a chance to realize that there's two viable hockey game products on the market.

Biggest Positive: Seems like they didn't over-waggle the control scheme.

Biggest Negative: No online play for the Wii version.

Biggest Question: Will "fun" truly mean not "arcadey"?

Game: NHL 2K9Reader Score: 7/10 - Vote Now
Platform: PS2 / PS3 / Wii / Xbox 360Votes for game: 15 - View All
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Member Comments
# 1 catcatch22 @ 07/15/08 11:20 PM
I may have to get 2 hockey games this year. I can not wait for the demo.
 
# 2 bateman11 @ 07/15/08 11:23 PM
Live hands off, coming next?

Good read on this.
 
# 3 ChaseB @ 07/15/08 11:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by bateman11
Live hands off, coming next?

Good read on this.
Check the Twitter yo, NBA 2K9 is next.

PS I'm not doing Live until tomorrow, someone didn't read my updates, gosh. I only went through some of the demo before I had to go to a meeting, so I figure it's best that I really have some more time before writing up impressions.
 
# 4 bateman11 @ 07/15/08 11:33 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaseB
Check the Twitter yo, NBA 2K9 is next.

PS I'm not doing Live until tomorrow, someone didn't read my updates, gosh. I only went through some of the demo before I had to go to a meeting, so I figure it's best that I really have some more time before writing up impressions.
My bad brother. Won't miss it again

Anywho, 2K9, even better. Cant wait.
 
# 5 X*Cell @ 07/15/08 11:36 PM
can't wait either.
 
# 6 Qb @ 07/16/08 08:15 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaseB
Also during the playoffs you'll notice that the NHL players grow nice thick beards as the playoffs progress.
For real? I always wondered if a hockey game would be able to do that without it looking terrible. Guess we'll find out...

Let's hope that VC can restore the series to its lofty heights of a few years ago and a demo in August would be sweet!
 
# 7 bucs44 @ 07/16/08 11:54 AM
I really hope VC turns this series around...All they really need to do is improve the animations to the days of NFL2k5, improve the AI to more specific player and team ability, tone down hitting, more puck physics, and improve the atmosphere. They need to incorporate the music editor like nfl2k5 and improve commentary.
 
# 8 ChaseB @ 07/16/08 12:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealmK
Granted its early with the first couple of previews just hitting, but if the only thing 2k has to show is a casual control option and a zamboni mini game the're pretty much done for when it comes to hockey.

I'm pretty amazed they haven't mentioned anything at all about graphical improvements, ai or sound/atmosphere improvements. Kinda scary that being the case so far.

Also disapointing that there's still zero screenshots or at least a trailer. For a game that's supposed to be shipping in a month and a half and going up against some pretty stiff competition in NHL 09, you'd think 2k would at least show something to set fans at ease.
I clearly mention the new graphics engine in the preview.
 
# 9 Jethown @ 07/16/08 12:43 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaseB
Or it's something a little more silly, like being given the opportunity to drive the Zamboni during an intermission.
That alone would make the game worth the $60 price tag...
 
# 10 navarz @ 07/21/08 11:45 AM
 

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