Let's not mince words. NHL 2K8 was pretty lousy hockey game. Luckily, this year 2K Sports has seen fit to reboot the franchise, instead of letting the series flounder under the weight of the competition for another year. Best of all, Wii puckheads will finally have a hockey title to play on their little waggle machines, and guess what? It looks like a rink full of fun.
While the game still features a full franchise mode and settings for the toothless, hardcore, wear your team's jersey to your wedding, elite fan to drool over, there's a bigger pick up and play mentality to the series this year. It's all about back to basics fun. Gone are the horrendously overdone controls of last season, and in its place is a simple, shoot, pass, body check system on the regular consoles, and an intuitive scheme for the Wii.
Controls for the Wii are simple and intuitive. Shots are taken by flicking the Wii-mote, like a hockey stick before aiming your shot with the IR sensor. Passes are aimed by pointing the sensor at various players. This makes it very easy to chain together passes and set up plays. The Wii version also features a revamped fighting engine similar to that found in Wii Boxing.
Finally, 2K has seen fit to include the one feature that hockey fans have been clamouring for since the dawn of video games. That's right ladies and gentlemen; you will finally be able to drive the Zamboni around during the intermissions. How this feature went unused all these years is beyond me. Details on this feature were sparse, but one can dream about the possibilities.
The graphics have been revamped, and certainly look good on the Wii, and especially on the next gen consoles. Players will notice lots of little details, particularly the introduction of thicker and thicker playoff beards as the playoffs progress. Everything seemed to run smoothly and looked great.
The puck will drop on NHL 2K9 on all three major systems by September.