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NHL 2K10 Preview

The battle for videogame hockey supremacy wasn’t much of a battle last year, as EA seemed to pull ahead with NHL 09. But a lot can change in a year. Previous developer Kush was disbanded in 2008, months after the development cycle of NHL 2K9 was already in full swing, which put the new developers (Visual Concepts) in a tough spot. (If that development studio sounds familiar, that's because it's the studio that's responsible for the critically acclaimed NBA 2K series.)

And the shortened development cycle certainly did hurt NHL 2K9, but it also seems to have benefited NHL 2K10. Visual Concepts took the criticism of 2K9 to heart and is now trying to build the best possible NHL game this year to make up for it. From what I saw, it won’t take long for gamers to notice the improvements.

 

On the Ice

Lots of work has been done in an effort to make the gameplay more simulation-oriented. The artificial intelligence (AI) has been largely rewritten to reflect these changes. Players will be rewarded for moving the puck and playing the way you would see on television or in a NHL arena. The strategies system has also been reworked.

There are many details you will notice as you play the game, such as improved animations, more realistic player likenesses and even more minor details like a player's hair. Alex Ovechkin’s gold laces will also make an appearance. In addition, the animation for backwards skating has been improved, which should allow you to play much better defense than you were able to in 2K9.

In the past when your shot was interrupted, your player would simply stop while the game continued around you. In 2K10 there are new stumble shots. The shot may get disrupted, but it can still continue now. The success of the shot essentially comes down to the player's stumble-shot rating (one of many new ratings and sliders), and it makes for a much more fluid and realistic game.

There are also stick lifts, which allow you to take the puck back without checking. Again, the success of this maneuver mostly depends on the player's ratings -- undisciplined players are more likely to be called for high sticking. There certainly appears to be a risk-reward factor involved in this process, so hopefully it will be hard to abuse this maneuver.

Incidental contact is also new to NHL 2K10. Basically it’s similar to a running back contorting his body to squeeze through a hole in ESPN NFL 2K5, or one player running into another player on the court in NBA 2K9. When speed is not the only factor that is determining who will get to a loose puck, it makes those races to the puck that much more interesting.

Off the Ice

While the gameplay has improved, everything else has as well. The new and improved franchise mode gives the user much more roster freedom, including uneven trades, a new team-budget system, GM personalities and team identities. The GM personalities and team identities will make computer-controlled squads behave as they would in real life. That means Lou Lamoriello will build a defense-oriented team in New Jersey, while the GM of the Islanders, Garth Snow, will be a seller at the trade deadline. As teams improve or regress over the years, these GM identities can and will change.

Another new feature is franchise blogging. After each game you can upload your franchise to its own Web site through 2K Sports. You can also attach news stories and upload replays and screenshots. Did you blank the Red Wings in Detroit? If you did, you can tweet to your heart’s delight -- just make sure it’s under 140 characters.

But The biggest improvement to franchise mode is a separate online aspect. If you’ve ever played a full season of NHL hockey, you would know that the CPU gets old after a while. Now you can play an online opponent and have the result included in your franchise. Your friend (or enemy) wants to play you in your Stanley Cup? He can do that, along with any other game on the schedule. He can even join your team for cooperative play.

You can also jump into a game from any menu with either a friend or random opponent. This counts for any mode, which means the aforementioned franchise mode, as well as the quick game or playoff modes.

NHL 2K10 also allows you to use created teams in online modes. You can customize them as much as you want, but the template for every real NHL team is available for you to tinker with as well. Want to use pink and black as the colors for the Calgary Flames? Want to bring your high-school team to the NHL? Go for it. You can use these teams in online leagues where every team is fictional, and it also makes Team-Up games a tad bit more interesting.

Roster editing has been made easier with the inclusion of 2K Share. If you have played NBA or MLB 2K9, you know what to expect. You can upload and download rosters, created players, sliders and draft classes. When you pop in the game on September 15, there will be a current roster available for download, along with updates throughout the season.

The downloading of draft classes comes into play when the draft rolls around in your franchise. These classes can be auto-generated, current or something retro like a created 1995 draft class. The possibilities are limitless and can provide respite next summer when the rosters become somewhat outdated.

Randy Hahn, commentator for the San Jose Sharks, returns to call the action this year. In addition, the overhead camera angle has returned, and there are also new picture-in-picture (PIP) updates for line changes and the penalty box. These PIP updates are comparable to the views that you might get of a baserunner in one of the MLB games.

 

Wii Version

Wii owners who are fans of sports games have been getting the shaft for the most part since the system’s inception, though, things have improved considerably during the last few months. Either way, the Wii version of NHL 2K10 will feature everything in the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, including support for Wii MotionPlus, online play, voice chat, 2K Share -- plus another Wii-exclusive feature that’s still under wraps. It's also worth mentioning that NHL 2K10 will be the only simulation hockey game that is released this season for the Wii console.

Bottom Line

2K Sports wants the world to know that the developers are creating a game that is based on fun and simulation hockey. It looks like the developers are on target, which means the hockey showdown of 2009-10 could be much tighter this year.

NHL 2K10 will be released on September 15.


NHL 2K10 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 kai123 @ 08/12/09 06:54 PM
thanks Os, you always do great hands-on for sportsgames.

looks like there is High Sticking.
 
# 2 BigH2k6 @ 08/12/09 08:31 PM
Good job OS.

It's refreshing to read previews from people that actually know sports
 
# 3 KaptnKirk12 @ 08/12/09 08:53 PM
Sounds promising, will definitely be checking it out this year.
 
# 4 savoie2006 @ 08/12/09 10:46 PM
I knew this game is gonna suprise some people, I can't wait! Good write up Chris.
 
# 5 Avizzv92 @ 08/12/09 11:20 PM
Completely pumped for this to come out for the Wii, I don't care if the graphics won't be as good I'm just looking for a good time hockey game... And Im finally getting one it seems

Too bad it's the same month school starts which will cut my free time considerably...

Still curious what this Wii Exclusive feature is... For those of you familiar with MK:Wii perhaps NHL 2k10 will add it's own channel where you can check out your online stats/standings/teams/players/information/ect... on the channel without needing to insert the disc. Or it could be Wii Connect24, though possible it could be Mii integration, not sure if I'd want that though.
 
# 6 Avizzv92 @ 08/12/09 11:29 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottdau
Yeah it sounds like this game is going to kick *** on Wii. I might have to get a Wii now. I can tell my wife it would be good for my son's fine motor skills.
If you do get one and need motion+ attachment and you enjoy golf I recommend purchasing Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Wii... Not entirely sure but I think you can still get a free bundle M+ with it and it's an amazing game I spent half my Summer playing it and still am. And the bundle will save you $10... Even for those I know who dislike golf in real life have enjoyed it.
 
# 7 tabulaRasa @ 08/13/09 01:59 AM
Sounds good, 2 good games of hockey equals = Win
 
# 8 Acedeck @ 08/13/09 02:09 AM
I'm so glad hockey and basketball still have competition in the sports gaming world. We benefit greatly. Without 2k, Live wouldn't have started making a comeback. Without EA's hockey game, 2k wouldn't have had to rebuild their game.

Great preview. I'm pumped for this game. I can't wait for both hockey games this year.
 
# 9 slickdtc @ 08/13/09 07:54 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acedeck
I'm so glad hockey and basketball still have competition in the sports gaming world. We benefit greatly. Without 2k, Live wouldn't have started making a comeback. Without EA's hockey game, 2k wouldn't have had to rebuild their game.

Great preview. I'm pumped for this game. I can't wait for both hockey games this year.
Totally agree with you, Acedeck. I admit, I have a soft spot for the NHL 2k series (though I'm not a complete lemming -- I guess it's because I've followed NHL 2k since it's inception), but what I want first and foremost is the OPTION to go with either EA's or 2k's game.

This year, both games look incredible. I really think we're in for a big year for NHL games.
 
# 10 Money99 @ 08/13/09 01:44 PM
Nice preview Richard!

How much time did you have with the game?
 
# 11 Eddie1967 @ 08/13/09 09:33 PM
"While the gameplay has improved, everything else has as well. The new and improved franchise mode gives the user much more roster freedom, including uneven trades, a new team-budget system, GM personalities and team identities. The GM personalities and team identities will make computer-controlled squads behave as they would in real life. That means Lou Lamoriello will build a defense-oriented team in New Jersey, while the GM of the Islanders, Garth Snow, will be a seller at the trade deadline. As teams improve or regress over the years, these GM identities can and will change".

Are you kidding me? This is brilliant and will go along way towards make this whole franchise a true simulation. I cannot wait to play this game. I knew VC would come through. They are showing what they can do with a full development cycle.
 
# 12 buzzguy @ 08/16/09 01:41 PM
Have you guys been following the Wii version at all? That is looking SICK!
I know the reputation the Wii has, but this could be the definitive sports game on the Wii.
It's supposed to have all the features of the HD consoles, but with Wii Motion+. I'm stoked for it!
 
# 13 slickdtc @ 08/16/09 04:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzguy
Have you guys been following the Wii version at all? That is looking SICK!
I know the reputation the Wii has, but this could be the definitive sports game on the Wii.
It's supposed to have all the features of the HD consoles, but with Wii Motion+. I'm stoked for it!
We've been forced to.

I'll admit, it's looking good for Wii. Though that's not my primary system, I am happy deep down inside that it's getting the full treatment. I never liked how Nintendo's recent consoles got no love in the sports games department. If I had just a Wii, I'd be absolutely ecstatic over what NHL 2k10 is shaping up to be. Finally a legitimate sports game on the Wii.
 
# 14 goheat @ 08/17/09 01:08 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Avizzv92
Completely pumped for this to come out for the Wii, I don't care if the graphics won't be as good I'm just looking for a good time hockey game... And Im finally getting one it seems

Too bad it's the same month school starts which will cut my free time considerably...

Still curious what this Wii Exclusive feature is... For those of you familiar with MK:Wii perhaps NHL 2k10 will add it's own channel where you can check out your online stats/standings/teams/players/information/ect... on the channel without needing to insert the disc. Or it could be Wii Connect24, though possible it could be Mii integration, not sure if I'd want that though.
It looks like the Wii-exclusive mode is called Mii Superskills mode.

See http://wii.ign.com/articles/101/1014248p1.html
 
# 15 SoxFan01605 @ 08/26/09 01:32 AM
As someone who can easily be described as a casual hockey fan at most, I don't generally follow these games all too closely during development. I do always give them a go when the season roles around though.

Anyway, I was disappointed in last year's, but I've always preferred the 2K brand of hockey. I'm glad to see that the outlook is positive and am looking forward to giving it a try.
 

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