If any sport could be considered sluggishly paced, it is baseball. The stoppages after every pitch, breaks between hits, inning changes, it is all very slow and strategic. Hockey on the other hand, is not. It’s fast, quick, and consistently exciting.
Why then does NHL 2K10 feel like a baseball game?
The 2K brand of hockey has been a mess for years, at least since 2K7 when EA Sports revitalized their own franchise for the new console generation. Developer Kush has been kicked off the series, replaced with creator Visual Concepts last year, yet the remnants remain.
The amount of mini-games are ridiculous, and while pond hockey was fun a few years ago, now it seems like a section of disc space that could have been better utilized for important things. The zamboni driving mini-game between periods is absurd, something you would expect to see on the Wii as a bullet point on the box.
If 2K10 is any indicator, 2K has given up trying to sell their hockey game as a simulation. The baffling tagline on the box, “Is Party Now,” doesn’t seem to indicate a serious attitude. Instead, hits are ridiculously overpowered, and the now archaic button-based controls fail to deliver the feel generated by the rival hockey title.
Most of all though, it comes down to skating; 2K10 is simply awful in terms of on-ice performance. While smooth, it takes a staggeringly long time to cross the length of the ice. Penalty killing is not an issue when half of it is spent trying to conquer a speed barrier, one that even the turbo button cannot cure.
Penalties, by default, are constant. Referees seem more aggressive than the players, oddly going against the style of play 2K10 seems to be leaning towards. This is a confused hockey game, one that needs extensive tinkering before it can be remotely realistic.
Once known for fantastic presentation, 2K drops the ball with robotic, stuttering commentary. The between-periods recaps are fine, although there was a time when the virtual camera would pan to fans in the crowd during play stoppages. Programming time must have been limited to implement such a bonus, ensuring the zamboni controlled properly being the priority.
Visual Concepts also creates a crowded ice surface. Players feel unnaturally large with limited room to maneuver or set up an offense. This is not a matter of camera placement, but one of otherwise sharp, realistic visuals brought down by incorrect scale.
Then again, given how slow it is, no one would mistake this for a broadcast anyway.
NHL 2K10 is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for mild violence. This game can also be found on: PS3, PS2, and Wii.