|System: X360, PS3, Wii, 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: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One of the most fun aspects of 2K9 is its cool fighting animations, and though the NHL has tried to limit its televised fighting, it seems developers at Visual Concepts know what fans love to see. Theyve obviously worked hard to create more in-depth fighting controls and much more realistic animations.
Their new fighting engine requires you to tap the two shoulder buttons to retain your strength as you swing your fists with the analog. The system looks better than it actually works, as onscreen animations give a unique perspective of video game hockey fights and look pretty incredible on a large screen. Though I still find EAs system to work better, I like the concentration placed on the fighting element and appreciate 2Ks efforts to make the mechanic much deeper.
Along with the standard Franchise and other modes you would expect, the game features a three-person pond hockey shootout, making for fun multiplayer variety. The new Zamboni driving mini-game is a tacked-on addition that isnt much fun at all, as you are required to clear the ice in under three minutes. 2K also promotes the new beard-growing feature during playoffs, in which players sprout more facial hair from game-to-game. As dumb as it seems, it is actually a cool little addition to the game. Theres also something pretty unique about winning a Stanley Cup, and this is the first game ever to try it. As hard as a player must work to actually win a Cup, depending on which mode you play a final game in, you are rewarded better than any other game Ive seen, NHL 2K9 allows you to be in control of your onscreen Stanley Cup celebrations that allow you to party the way you want.
Details such as these are creative and welcome additions to a sports game; 2K has done some outside of the box thinking to make their NHL title unique. It may be exactly what they need to distinguish themselves from their competitor, though, at this point, it probably wont be enough to be the top choice amongst hockey fans. EA Sports still has the best hockey game on the market.
CCC Freelance Writer