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Score: 7.0 / 10
Wii owners finally get some hockey with NHL
2K9 and though it suffers from some really inconsistent AI, the game
commentary feels really cut and pasted, and the graphics are smeared
with Vaseline (especially if you've put in any time with a hockey game
on Xbox 360 or PS3), but those problems can be overlooked somewhat with
two or three human players involved. And it may just be one of
those thirsty man in the desert situations
where a glass of water, even if it's kind of brown, will be consumed
Besides featuring the standard Quick Game, Season, and Franchise modes,
NHL 2K9 also features, Shootout, Mini-Rink (2-on-2) and Pond Hockey modes that provide an
arcade experience when you just want to fool around. There are
enough modes here to satisfy the more hardcore hockey fans
out there, but it's a few Wii specific
features that really make NHL 2K9 worth attention.
The developers have made very good use of the Wii motion controls.
The most obvious is fighting, which feels really good, it's just too bad
fights don't happen more often. The motion controls are also used
for hitting, shooting and driving the zamboni between periods in a
brilliant mini-game, which actually feels like it could have been
fleshed out a little more and made into a stand-alone mode with time
trails, obstacle courses, and mini-zamboni mode where a remote
controlled zamboni is on-ice during a game to really mix things up.
(Save that idea for a Mario Hockey game.) Thanks to an on-screen
reticule gamers can also select the exact player they want to pass to on
offense or who they want to control on defense. It takes some
playing to get used to it, but it feels a lot better being able to pick
out exactly who you're passing to. The motion controls are also
used for shooting, which makes perfect sense and takes all of about a
minute to get used to, if not master.
But as previously mentioned, as much as I like the actual hockey part of
the game, even with some occasionally strange-acting AI, the
presentation parts of NHL 2K9 suffer because the game went the
"realistic" route rather than a cartoony sensibility that just seems to
work better on the Wii. The sound effects and the execution of the
commentary are poor, which doesn't help the overall presentation.
As long as you know what level to put your expectations, there's a
decent enough hockey game here. It makes me hopefully for what
might come next year.