|System: Wii, X360, PS3, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Visual Concepts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 8, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Hockey might not be the most popular sport around these days, but its got some pretty diehard fans around the country and, just as important, has inspired some really great video games for the sport. The Wii has seen iterations of most major sports franchises already, from Madden to NBA Live, but, until now, hockey has been conspicuously absent. 2K breaks that trend with NHL 2K9, but, sadly, its not quite up to snuff.
Its not that NHL 2K9 is poor, and for a first hockey effort on the Wii its not bad. There are some good ideas here, but for every positive point, the game has an equally poor aspect that can make this game hard to enjoy. Hockey fans looking for their favorite sport on the Wii might be happy with this title, but most everybody else should probably stick to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of this game or spend some time with EAs hockey franchise on those consoles.
For starters, NHL 2K9 on the Wii feels surprisingly dated for a game of this generation. It really feels more like a GameCube game than a Wii game, and titles like Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 have shown us that there is a significant difference in the graphical capabilities of the two consoles. Graphics are the most noticeable way in which this game feels older than it is, but even in terms of gameplay and interface, NHL 2K9 is just not particularly impressive.
In terms of visuals, though, NHL 2K9 is really a let-down. Character models are all very similar and many are even identical; you really get the sense that corners were cut here. Additionally, the crowd visuals are similar to those we got several years ago; the ones that looked like 2D cardboard cut-outs. Finally, there can be a few issues with the framerate which doesnt make much sense, because even with lots going out at once, the screen never gets extremely busy.
In terms of actual hockey mechanics, NHL 2K9 does a pretty good job getting things right. It certainly feels more like an arcade game than EAs take on the NHL, and, as a result, you tend to get higher scores and a more exciting, fast-paced hockey experience. Thats either a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. hockey purists may be more satisfied with EAs slower-paced focus on strategy and setting up plays, but NHL 2K9 is quite an accessible game and easy for anybody to have fun with.
Additionally, the control is well-conceived. The motion controls that are incorporated into the game feel good and dont seem tacked on; they actually feel integrated into the game and theyre intuitive and easy-to-use. Shooting and passing in particular work best; button presses are combined with motion controls, and, as a result, youll find less of the accidental actions that sometimes characterize sports games on the Wii.