Xbox 360 Review: NHL 2K9

09 vs. 2K9, which NHL game will be the best?

  • Pick-Up-And-Play Controls – Fans asked and 2K Sports answered with easy-to-learn controls that still provide depth for the seasoned veteran
  • Expanded Superstar Moves – An updated arsenal of special manoeuvres including open ice moves will burn opponents and create never-before-seen highlight reel moments
  • All-New Presentation System – In-game menus, pre-game intros, new crowd animations, game summary replays and brand-new commentary featuring Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda
  • True Hockey Fun! – Indulge in the uniqueness of hockey with the addictive Zamboni driving mini-game, user-controlled Stanley Cup celebrations, playoff beards, enhanced checking and a brand-new fighting engine
  • Team-Up with up to 12 consoles online – Hop online, pick a position and form a team of up to 6 separate consoles. It’s the first-ever NHL 12-console play!
  • Reel Maker 2K9 – Included this year on both Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION3, users will be able to save, edit, share and rate user-generated NHL 2K9 highlight reels on Xbox LIVE via the web
  • 2K Beats – Featuring Pennywise, Bad Religion, The Offspring, NOFX, The Ramones, Inner Circle, Mastodon, Operation Ivy, High on Fire and more.Having just reviewed EA’s own NHL title, 2K Sports’ NHL 2K9 needs to do quite a lot to impress me. EA’s game improved upon its predecessors; will 2K9 do the same and outdo 09?

    In some ways it does and in others it doesn’t. To be fair, it does try really hard but falls short with its controls that let it down. The debate really is between analog sticks versus buttons, NHL 09 lets you shoot with the right analog stick while NHL 2K9 lets you shoot with the X button, both work well but it’s really down to a personal preference that I enjoyed the analog control more.

    NHL 2K9 has an odd mini-game called Zamboni where you drive a vehicle across the ice rink and try and score a percentage, it’s quite tricky to control but it was fun…if only you do it once. Fighting controls are a bit clunky and unresponsive; I would have liked to see more emphasis paid to this as it is the highlight of my NHL games. The game does have the standard modes like franchise, it would have been nice to see something really new here but like 09, 2K9 feels just like an improvement without the extra content.

    Having said that, being able to play a team of 6 vs. 6 online is pretty impressive. 09 only manages to do 10 people, so that definitely works in its favour. Like I said at the start, it really comes down to a control preference over analog and button configuration. Both games are done very well and each are starting to make good use of the next-gen hardware, although 09 does a much better job in that regard.

    NHL 2K9 has a total of 38 achievements some of them are easy ones like win a certain number of matches or score a number of goals, while tougher ones like winning a season or getting 100% in the Zamboni mini-game. NHL 09 has only 27 achievements but most of them are tougher than those of 2K9, so achievement-whores…there’s another thing to consider.

    Graphically, 2K9 doesn’t look as polished as 09 but still looks respectable on the 360. Character models are well detailed and the commentary is of great quality. Of course it can’t come close to the detail of 09, but it does a good job nonetheless.

    The Verdict

    The term “More of the same” seems to apply here. NHL 2K9 does improve upon its previous games and while its low on new content, what’s new there is great and well worth a look if you like button hitting over analog smashing, the choice is yours.