Visual Concepts and 2K Sports drop the puck on the next generation of home-ice entertainment.

“NHL 2K10” puts you in control of 30 professional hockey teams, playing in each franchise’s stadium or taking select players for an old-fashioned ice pond playoff match. Launch a quick game, start a franchise, practice shootouts or invite a friend to join you online for a heated competition between the lines.

It’s been said that hockey’s a better live sport for spectators, and that watching it on television can be a bore. That concept somewhat applies to (and hinders) hockey video games, which tend to suffer pacing issues and lose the game’s inherent, visceral punch that’s experienced in a physical stadium setting.

“NHL 2K10” has a few of the same setbacks. The graphics are solid, with fantastic recreations of NHL home rinks, and a fluid game design. But the movements of the players can lag, accommodating for the sensation of gliding across ice but disrupting smooth game play. Intro graphics and Zamboni play at period breaks enhance the game experience, but the basic controls of “NHL 2K10” were difficult to master until I spent a fair amount of time in the practice field. Even then, I found the “Speed Burst” to be limited, and the stick movements hard to perfect.

Passing and shooting were easier to figure out, and so long as you were playing with the Detroit Red Wings or Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring was an option. After several days of play, though, I couldn’t figure out the game’s celebrated Ovi-Dekes 1-on-1 moves, patterned after “2K10” cover boy Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

The online realm of “NHL 2K10” boosts the game’s value, however. Easily accessible and loaded with willing players, the “2K10” network is an excellent component of this hockey game. I also loved the up-to-the-minute score tracker of actual games taking place in baseball, college and pro football. It’s an excellent touch that makes the already realistic game play of “2K10” that much more credible.

Hockey’s not my first, second or third choice when I pop in a sports game. While I appreciated the graphics work that went in to “NHL 2K10,” and the options that allowed players to think outside the rink, this game would ride the bench behind competitive football, basketball and soccer titles. Hockey fans might disagree. I welcome their feedback

Overall Grade – B-

EM Review by
Sean O’Connell
Originally Posted 09.24.09

Updated: September 25, 2009 — 7:36 am