NHL 2KNHL 2K has been the subject of some rather harsh reviews since its release. The main fault of this game seems to be that it isn’t NHL 2000 by EA Sports. Give EA credit, they invented the genre of sports sims with the first Madden football, and then they extended that concept to every sport imaginable, including a fantastic treatment of hockey over the years. My favorite hockey game of all time was NHL 95 on the SNES. The graphics looked downright horrible compared to any 32, 64, or 128 bit hockey game, but the actual gameplay was dead on. NHL 2K combines the great gameplay of that ancient EA Sports title, with visual splendor never seen before in a console hockey game.
I really believe that many of the early reviews of this game were based on an unfinished or demo copy of NHL 2K, because all of the bashing this game took is really unwarranted. From a graphical standpoint it is drop dead gorgeous. The character models are very detailed, like in NBA 2K and NFL 2K, and the action moves along at a frame rate that can only be rivaled by the speedy NHL Face Off 1999 on the PSX (which was in every other way a pretty lame game with sorry graphics). There are hundreds, possibly thousands of different animations for the players and the goalies, with nary a missed frame to be found upon replay. Given that Black Box had far less time to produce their game than Visual Concepts had with NFL and NBA 2k, the results are very impressive. Some nifty effects include the spray of ice crystals that flies up in the air when you come to sudden stop or change direction quickly, and the reflections of the players in the ice and on the glass. One thing I don’t like is the menu interface. Black Box decided to use an old school style menu system, instead of the cool interface that NFL 2K and NBA 2K use. That, and the lack of a zamboni during intermission are the only real problems I have with the graphics.
Nobody questioned the graphics of this game, but the controls and depth were what really took a bashing. To me the controls are perfect, with the sad exception that there is no icon based passing. This doesn’t really detract too much because the analog passing is pretty accurate, but sometimes when you have a player camped out next to the opposing goalie and you end up passing to the wrong guy, then it can get frustrating. The button layout should be very familiar to anyone who has ever played EA’s series, or the Face Off series. This game doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, its goal is to provide a very playable hockey experience. There is no franchise mode, although there is a full season mode, trading, free agents, and all of the other usual goodies that one expects in any sports title these days. One major gripe is with the save system, which takes up 190 blocks of VMU space. This is the same problem that plagues NFL 2K and NBA 2K. I really hope that they find a way to reduce the size of the saves for next year.
Something I really do like is the coaching option. By pressing the L trigger you can pull up a menu that lets you select from 3 types of offensive styles and 3 types of defensive styles. For instance, when you have a lead you want to protect, you can shift into a zone defense and a passive offense. I would really like to see this option expanded upon in the future. The R trigger is used to control line changes, but I’ve found that if you set the line changes to auto the computer does a very adequate job of putting the right players in to fit the strategy you select. The computer AI is also pretty good, but it comes down to the old fallback that most hockey games rely on, a goalie that is nigh impossible to score up without taking a lot of shots. A cool feature is that you can push up on the analog stick while shooting to shoot high, and down to try to shoot between the goalie’s legs. Like in any hockey game, the best way to score is with one timers, which is where the icon passing would have come in handy.
Overall, you will not be disappointed with NHL 2K. There are no annoying graphical flaws that I can think of (other than the missing zamboni), and the controls and replay value are very high. This is a very addicting game, and it’s one good way to show off the power of your Dreamcast to your skeptical buddies who still haven’t managed to abandon their rusty PSX. In terms of overall feel, the game reminds me most of Sega’s Virtua Tennis, in the arcades. I say this because both games have a very simple button layout, yet neither ever feels like you are playing a “dumbed down” game like Blitz. I recommend a “strong buy” on this game.
Graphics :: 9 ::
Gameplay :: 9 ::
Sound :: 9 ::
Fun Factor :: 10 ::
Overall :: 9 ::
This was a review of Sega Dreamcast game.