Published Oct 05, 2009For much of the Canadian population, fall means the beginning of hockey season. For me, it marks a period of open weeping followed by hibernation. Since I'm indoors anyway, it would seem a perfect time to watch hockey, except I hate spectator sports on TV. I suppose I could go watch a real game but that would involve leaving the house during not summer, which is where hockey videogames come in.
Fittingly, the world of hockey games involves an arch-rivalry between opposing teams 2K Sports and EA Sports. Each season, they release new iterations, which usually seem unnecessary since updated rosters could be easily downloaded. But this year, both franchises produced practically proper sequels.
Developed by EA Canada, NHL 10 offers a whack of CanRock (Alexisonfire, Cancer Bats, Nickelback, Priestess) to soundtrack its award-winning, simulator-style game play. But while the graphics are gorgeous ― and Be a Tough Guy enforcer mode and first-person fighting rule ― the game spends too much of its time replicating the real sport with its "200 game play refinements." For a full-on fanatic this is way cool but it can be too much for the non-hardcore.
2K10 is selling itself as more casual fan-friendly and the PS3 and 360 versions offer similarly great graphics with less dense game play. I personally prefer 2K10's game pad controls to NHL's Skate-style analog stick scheme and 2K also scores mad points for putting the band Hockey on its soundtrack (not to mention Phoenix and MGMT).
It has season, franchise and playoff modes, as well as pond hockey, Zamboni racing, a multiplayer "team-up" mode and a create-a-player mode (which can be shared so you can download other players' creations). But let's be frank, the game feels super-shallow compared to EA's beloved franchise. At least it does on the PS3 and 360.
2K has the Wii all to itself and in my books, it's their motion-controlled hockey game that's the overall winner here.
It's not the prettiest but it has everything its console cousins have and ups the ante on the Wii-exclusive SuperSkills Competition (which uses your Mii avatar), WiiSpeak support for trash-talking and, most importantly, great use of the one-to-one MotionPlus accessory to add an interactive element.
Sports sims are all well and good but while I'm hiding out from the cold it's the Wii's motion-sensitive, pick-up-and-play arcade aesthetic that wins this playoff. (2K Sports / Visual Concepts)