Note: This is a comparison between this year's two NHL hockey titles. Both were played on their default settings for the purpose of this article. No sliders or adjustments were made.
NHL 2K10 has a tagline on the back of box which states, “Is Party Now.” The “r” is backwards. After thorough research of various ads and trying to put it into context… we still don’t get it.
It seems to be a reference to the various “party” modes in the game, most of which seem more at home on the Wii version. Although the series has been given back to Visual Concepts, NHL 2K10 is still focused on stupidity such as a zamboni driving mini-game. Why anyone thought die-hard hockey fans would ever want to do this is anyone’s guess.
Maybe that’s why, despite a new engine and a return to the original developer, NHL 2K10 lags so far behind. The focus doesn’t seem to be where it belongs.
It is immediately apparent from the opening face off that 2K10 feels sluggish. EA’s NHL 10 is beautiful in motion, the grace of the players skating across the frozen pond looking and feeling natural.
On the other hand 2K10 is slow, failing miserably to capture the speed of the sport. Even at full turbo, a feature deleted years ago from EA’s series, 2K10 never matches up to the best aspect of the actual game.
While the series mercifully dumped the slap-dash analog control scheme (which was never more than a desperate attempt to keep up), 2K10’s button-based controls are merely adequate. The sense of power behind a slapshot simply isn’t present. New stumbling animations, which replace simply letting the puck go when being hit during a shot, hardly add the missing pieces.
AI offense and defense is relatively similar between the games. Players properly set up once into their respective zone, and the level of aggressive defense is adequate. 2K10 hits harder although it is far more over-the-top, and penalties fly with far more regularity.
Visually, both titles are able to accurately depict a NHL broadcast, but 2K10 feels confined. The players are larger, but the rink feels too small, with less room to maneuver and set up in the offensive zone. Thankfully, it makes the zamboni driving game somewhat easier, so at least the priorities are in order.
Both games offer a lackluster presentation, although 2K gains points for the intermission breaks, it quickly loses them with the robotic commentary from Randy Hahn. There is little excitement behind his voice, particularly when compared to Gary Thorne and Bill Clement in NHL 10. While the latter is recycled (three years in a row), it remains one of the best aspects of the game.
Feature-wise, both titles are on equal footing, unless you consider a zamboni mini-game an advantage. 2K10 excels on the arcade side, including pond and rink hockey, while the depth of simulation features in NHL 10 remain unmatched. Neither game disappoints, although considering you need to use the main engine to play through entire seasons, the choice is more than obvious.
NHL 2K10 has a base to grow on, and now in the right hands, it hopefully can become a contender. Leaving in the cheesy mini-games is fine as a bonus, but trying to focus on them is a mistake. NHL 10 has barely added any improvements, and yet continues to outpace 2K’s hockey, three years in row actually.
But hey, at least you can party in a zamboni now in 2K10, right?Powered by Sidelines