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Face Off: NHL 10 vs. NHL 2K10

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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?

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • Steven Schrank

    NHL 10 is so much better so much more realistic NHL 2k10 sucks

  • Gabe Collett

    I cannot see how 2k can be better than EA. The graphics are much better in EA’s and all the gameplay is much more smoother

  • john cena

    i say ea nhl is better

  • xxicemanxx

    I find that ea 10 is slow. weak passing. and even worse yet weak goals. the fatigue is rediculous and penalties are way to high. im so frustrated im going to return it or trade it for something else. maybe ill try ea 11 when it comes out. this game to me feels like im playing with grampa. slow week passes. and no set up. if game speed was increased by just a bit and the passing wasnt so lame . it might be fun to play. as it is. it sucks.

  • xxicemanxx

    i dont look at this from a programing perpsective and what engine does what. im interested im playing a good game. Ea has not done it self any justice. they should have called this the oldtimer all time greatest. it is to slooooooooooooooooooooooow

  • flaming racoon

    2k sports is much bettter nhl 10s gameplay is slow and arenas in AHL are all the same. also sk10 has more of a funner gameplay with the new ovi moves. nhl 2k sports is better.

  • flying high

    nhl 2k sports is better. the only thing nhl 10 has that 2k doesnt is the better create a player mode and pressure play. nhl 10 on a powerplay is better you have the computer run the players you arent and they get to there postion. nhl 2k10s powerplay is a mess. nhl 10 is very slow amd gets boring easy. nhl 2k10 is cheaper because critics dont like it but its worth whatever its selling price is 2K SPORTS RULES!!!!

  • hockey lord xx

    2k sports is better theres no competision at all nhl 10 has such a slow gameeee

  • kb

    hmm.. having played both, i would say that they are not as far apart as this clearly biased blog is……. similar to the FIFA PES argument.. EA wins hands down on graphics and aesthetic points but the game is slow and not as “frantic”‘ as real hockey is live…. 2K lacks some “visual appeal” as I referenced, but the gameplay is as good for the most part….. if you want pretty pictures EA is your game… if you want to “play the game” 2k