Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: 2K Sports
Publisher: 2K Sports
Wii Remote with Nunchuk
Wii Remote & Wii Motion Plus with Nunchuk
Wii Speak Compatible
It’s the 10th anniversary for 2K Sports’ NHL games and NHL 2K10 is prepped to celebrate on the Nintendo Wii with new online play, support for Wii Motion Plus and Wii Speak, new controls, and a new Superskills mode featuring gamers own Mii’s. Let’s hit the ice and see if NHL 2K10 makes the team or gets sent to the minors.
Graphically, NHL 2K10 is really nothing to write home about. On one hand, the game looks relatively decent for a Wii title, but the gameplay moves along at a snail’s pace compared to NHL games on other consoles. If I would have to equate the visuals I would slot them a touch below PS2 quality graphics. Players sport a decent amount of detail and there is a lot going on at any one time (e.g. 10 skaters, 2 goalies, etc). Trying to stuff this amount of detail into things seems to have a detrimental effect on the game’s speed though. I found that the player animations are good as the stumble shots and dekes are well done and the game’s framerate is respectable.
On a more negative note, arenas and crowds look downright awful as they are lifeless and empty looking, with the latter being two dimensional. Encouragement led to disappointment when I thought the first game intro I watched was going to show the stadium filling up. I realized this was not the case. The spectators are just plain poor. Finally, what’s up with the blue ice? Yep, you heard me, the ice is blue and not the vibrant white we are so used too in hockey games.
Unfortunately things don’t get a heck of a lot better when it comes to how NHL 2K10 sounds. The common sounds one associates with the game of ice hockey are simply not authentic. The puck hitting the post of the net pings like a dinner bell and the sticks that slap the ice sound awfully fabricated. What happened to actually going to the rink and sampling this stuff? I thought the fact that stick handling sounds come through the Wii Remote speaker was cool though. In my opinion, 2K has never seemed to get crowd involvement right and this version is no exception. They just don’t seem reactive to the play and the sound thin.
On the positive side, the commentary by Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda is excellent. They are timely and offer up enough of a variety to keep things fresh during multiple games. I found their default volume a bit low though but this was solved simply thanks to 2K’s plentiful sliders. Why someone doesn’t contract Canadian announcers is beyond me though. I’m not privy to contracts and stuff but as a Canadian hockey fan I think this is a real opportunity for 2K given how good announcers on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada are.
Often games are only as good as they feel, especially when it comes to sports games. Smartly NHL 2K10 offers multiple control layouts, four in fact, that should help to make the game accessible to a wide range of gamers. The Wii Remote by itself (using it sideways) offers a simpler level of control for perhaps a younger player or someone that hasn’t played a hockey video game since, dare I say it, the mid-90’s! More advanced players will want to opt for the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The options found here, with or without Wii Motion Plus, utilize the Wii’s motion sensing capabilities to perform dekes, checks, goalie moves and fighting. I was not able to test the Motion Plus controls. The Wii Remote controls, while fun at first, seem to become somewhat of a novelty after multiple games. I can definitely see the motion controls being fun for new players or if playing with a group. Personally I preferred playing the game with the Classic controller. Call me a traditionalist I guess but that is what I am used too. The Classic Controller plays like you’d expect other games to with button presses and the use of the analog sticks providing the on-screen action. It worked pretty well. I have to give kudos to 2K for allowing so many different control options.
Gameplay wise, 2K Sports has packed a boat load of features into this game including season and franchise modes, but most noticeable the superskills mode where the players can use their own Mii’s. It is nice to see a Wii title get this sort of support when it comes to bringing these types of features to a game. The Mii superskills lets the player use their own Mii’s in events that you see at the NHL All-Star game such as hardest shot, fastest skater, shooter accuracy and the like. This game mode is available both off and online.
I found that the actual gameplay, which tries to recreate the game of hockey in virtual form, is unfortunately where NHL 2K10 is lacking. As a long time hockey player the AI seems reasonable enough and does what I would expect it to do, but the whole package just doesn’t feel like hockey. It all comes down to the pace of the game. NHL 2K10 just seems too slow to be representative of the NHL. Hockey is a fast paced game, even more so at the NHL level. Unfortunately, NHL 2K10 doesn’t capture this. Thankfully 2K provides plenty of sliders to tailor different elements of game play to the player’s liking but even then I just couldn’t find a setting that allowed me to fully enjoy the “hockey” experience.
For the first time on Wii, NHL 2K10 offers online play. 2K has always been known for a smooth online play experience and they have always included a full suite of online features. NHL 2K10 for Wii is no different. Downloadable rosters will be available, leaderboards, multi-console games and online leagues are all fully supported. One of the more surprising things this time around is that 2K Sports supports the much overlooked Wii Speak accessory for online communication. It is nice to finally see games like this supporting the one and only way to communicate when playing online. 2K deserves a huge pat on the shoulder for not only being the only NHL game on the Wii, but also for supporting it with a full set of online features allowing gamers to hit the internet for some online multiplayer play.
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