The NHL 2K series was born and originally thrived on the Sega Dreamcast 10 years ago, but it cemented its reputation on the Playstation 2 with ESPN NHL Hockey 2K4 and the bargain bin priced 2K5, which was much better than anything Electronic Arts could muster at the time. Five games later however, the NHL 2K series is barely treading above water on the 360 and even though it’s the only game in town for the PS2 this season, it fails to deliver any real thrills.
That’s not to say it’s a bad game; it’s just flat in nearly every single aspect, making it an easy to play hockey sim, but an awfully plain one as well.
The game’s graphics for instance haven’t changed much since “NHL 2K5” and at this point are an eyesore. While most star players bare a resemblance to their real-life counterparts, many don’t look like themselves at all. For example, New York Islanders youngster Kyle Okposo is whiter than Opie from “The Andy Griffin Show,” in spite of being part Nigerian. The animations are also sloppy and can easily be seen as inferior upon watching instant replay.
Small mistakes like this ruin a game that still plays solid and take away from the overall fun.
Yes, we know the game is 20 bucks and it’s on a system on its last leg, but is that an excuse for mistakes that are that obvious?
The same thing goes for the presentation, as the crowd is inane and possesses the width of cardboard cut outs. The commentary, which does nothing but annoy you throughout your time on the ice, is also lame. The color commentary is weak and far from insightful, while the play by play announcer seems to have trouble keeping up with the play. When he’s on his game, he’ll often call out a player’s name for no reason- another annoyance on a growing list of them.
On the gameplay front, the game is still fun, but feels like it’s been stripped down to its undies and socks. In spite of having online multiplayer and a handful of other modes, the game still feels bare. The overall action on the ice luckily is still solid, but just like the graphics, the controls and other options haven’t aged nearly as well as they could have.
For anyone who is forced to buy this game, have it be a multitude of reasons, like not having the dough to buy a Wii, 360 or a PS3, the PS2 version of “NHL 2K10” is a nice way of pushing you towards the future. Unpolished, but serviceable overall, “NHL 2K10” is a reminder of a time when we didn’t ask for everything to be perfect in our sports games and sheer gameplay could win us over.
Luckily for gamers everywhere and unfortunately for 2K and the PS2, today, the world deserves a better class of games.
A class of games that the system can no longer give.