More Reviews
REVIEWS Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunk Review
I was confident in my Dark Souls abilities. Then From Software released new Dark Souls II DLC.

The Swapper Review
One of 2013's best indie games swaps its way to Sony platforms.
More Previews
PREVIEWS Pillars of Eternity Preview
For Obsidian's crowdfunded love letter to Infinity Engine games like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, I was impressed by its willingness to pull back the curtain and let me see the machinery behind it.
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES CounterSpy
Release date: 08/19/14

Tales of Xillia 2
Release date: 08/19/14

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Release date: 08/19/14

Madden NFL 15
Release date: 08/26/14


LATEST FEATURES Interview: Forging the Rings of Power in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Tolkien fans may now either squeal with glee at getting to play interactive fanfiction... or condemn it to the watery grave of Numenor.

How Bioware Creates Romances
Bioware's games have romances where you might save the world, on the side of course.
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Picking Your Gender: 5 Industry Professionals Discuss Queer Identity in Gaming
Women from Naughty Dog, ArenaNet, Harmonix, and Gamespot unite to talk about what they want from games in terms of diversity.
 
Coming Soon

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP Kakulukia
Why Sunset Overdrive Can Go Suck A Lemon
By Kakulukia
Posted on 07/14/14
Yesterday, while cleaning up my media center, I found my copy of Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus, which I bought sometime before Christmas last year. I had been pretty excited about this game pre-release, what with it being the first "traditional", albeit shorter than usual,...

NHL 2K9 Review

Greg_Damiano By:
Greg_Damiano
10/09/08
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Sports 
PLAYERS 1- 12 
PUBLISHER 2K Sports 
DEVELOPER Visual Concepts 
RELEASE DATE  
E10+ Contains Lyrics, Mild Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Oh My God. You Really Did It…


Even as I enjoyed my latest 11-0 shutout victory in a round of NHL 2K9, an eerie unease set in, as if something terrible had happened. Then I realized… You Maniacs! You Blew It Up! Where NHL 2K8 is a robust, fully functional game, NHL 2K9 hobbles about like The Ugly, Disappointing Cousin. Ahhh, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

click to enlargeBut hey there, chap, it’s okay. Stop that now. It’s not all that bad. 2K9 takes sim hockey down to basics, making it slightly easier to play. We just had to lose a few game features, good graphics, help documentation, and the basic necessities of online sports games. That’s all...

Simply put, 2K9 is going through the growing pains of becoming a full-fledged online service. 2K Sports wants to connect you to a world of sports no matter which of its discs you cram into your Xbox’s pie-hole. A brand-new ticker bar shows daily scores from real-world professional and college sports leagues, and only time will tell whether the robust new “Reelmaker” video editor will create a healthy community of fans sharing their best goals and goofs. But while I give the 2K boys credit for this ambitious attempt at building a whole “2K Sports Network” experience, I still feel manhandled for trying to enjoy the game.

From the very first screen, I felt like a spaceman landing on a strange planet. Though I appreciated the mighty Zamboni mini-game and the natural new take on the camera system, the locals seemed irritated that I did not understand their aggressive language of busy colors and sharp, crowded shapes. 2K9’s nontraditional menu system gets right in your face, setting up matches on the title screen while burying modes and menus in a series of hidden lists.

On the ice, NHL 2K9 feels a little dumbed-down (2009 must be the year of the breakaway goal). The left analog stick and sprint button are all you need to steer around defenders and put the puck into the goal. It’s easy, but hell, it’s satisfying!

click to enlargeUnfortunately, everything else about the game has become annoying at best. While the single “special move” deke button is meant to let every player feel like a superstar, it gives up a million turnovers without real caution. Imprecise passing controls frequently send the puck to the wrong player. Computer-controlled referees get in everybody’s way, and A.I. teammates skate into the refs as if they are looking for someone to hide behind. Even the series’ signature “Pro Evolution” control scheme is disabled at first, as if it too is trying to hide. These oddities must seem orderly to the inhabitants of this strange land, but their alien logic baffles me.

Online play is entertaining but equally riddled with oversights. The highlight is the 12-player “Ranked Team Mode”, where a new player-ranking system rewards you for basic plays like passing and checking. I’m eager to find a full team and spam passes all day, though I have yet to find a time of the week when more than four players are online.

In half of my online games, the puck was like a black hole - as I drew near, lag spikes brought the game to a screeching halt. Missing functionality also kills the experience. Where is the lobby so I can see how many people are online, or what matches are available? If I join a Ranked Team match, why can’t I choose my team or character? When was the last time a sports game denied us the choice of team or player?

Returning 2K series fans may notice other omissions as well, ranging from advanced game systems like ProControl one-touch passing to the bonus games and Party Mode games from previous editions. It’s a sad sight to see after such comprehensive packages like 2K7 and 2K8.

click to enlargeThere are many sad sights in NHL 2K9, one of which is a small graphical nosedive. The in-game action is well-animated and nicely polished, but everything else suffers from rough textures, jaggy edges, or tiny, boring fonts. Some of the menu-heavy areas like the character creator are total eyesores, no matter the size of your television.

At least good sound design tidies up the presentation, with San Jose Sharks announcers Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda providing clean, albeit repetitive, commentary. Fans might recognize unique hometown cheers from their favorite cities, though I’m still waiting for the old Shark Tank classic “You suck! You really suck!” yelled at visiting teams.

So there you have it: 2K9 comes off as a misguided effort to streamline the experience and create gameplay where realism comes before responsiveness. There are a few nice developments, but I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better in the galactic realm of video hockey. But whatever, it’s a sports game. To each their own - no reason to get all madhouse about it.
C- Revolution report card
  • Easier shooting
  • Points for teamwork
  • Sharing videos
  • Weak, overcomplicated controls
  • Stripped features
  • Manic menus
  • So-so presentation
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.

More from the Game Revolution Network




comments powered by Disqus

 


More information about NHL 2K9


More On GameRevolution