Tech News on G4
Sept 30, 2009
By Ted Kritsonis - G4 Canada
Hockey finally made its way onto the Wii last year with NHL 2K9, marking the first time gamers could use their hands to make plays, score goals and win fights in a virtual rink. It was a noble effort, overall, but the gameplay was a little clunky and tough to really get used to. This, among other issues, was what NHL 2K10 was meant to solve.
The key difference with this year’s version is the addition of Wii MotionPlus. The added precision and functionality seems perfect for a game like this. Flick the Wii mote in any direction and press A to make a pass. Hold B and wind up for a slap shot. Flick up with B for a wrister or snapper. Push forward with the Wii mote and nunchuk to land a hit, and throw a punch in a fight. The control scheme seems simple enough when you look at it on paper, but it creates challenges for you that can be frustrating and rewarding at the same time.
Just to clarify, you can still play with the pointer cursor, if you prefer that for passing. Indeed, you can literally play NHL 2K10 no differently than you would with last year’s game, save for the obvious absence of MotionPlus, of course. Personally, I found it enjoyable to play the game with the classic controller because it just added a greater sense of speed.
I say that because the two issues that seem to pop up repeatedly is the responsiveness of the controls and the general pace of the gameplay. It takes some time to get used to how the new motion-sensored controls work, and while you can utilize the Practice mode to hone your skills a bit, there are still some things that take far too long to figure out. Taking a wrist or snap shot is fairly easy, as I described earlier, but slap shots are just terrible. You’re supposed to wind up and then follow through with the B button. Even when I thought I had the hang of it, there was nothing but inconsistency in its execution. I had players constantly whiffing at the puck until they were checked by opponents.
And as frustrating as that was, the overall speed of the game wasn’t helping, either. Expect to hold the speed burst button down at almost all times or else you’re sure to lose the puck or get hit. Players basically crawl up and down the ice, and though the constant speed burst mashing helps, it would’ve been nice if the developers were able to add a little more zip to the gameplay. Luckily, there are sliders you can utilize to increase the speed and tempo of the game, which is definitely a step up from last year.
I may gripe about all this, but I’ll also admit that there’s plenty of upside to this game. Getting used to a majority of the controls isn’t all that time-consuming. Stick lifts, shot blocks and poke checks are easy to do because they’re mostly button-focused, though you will have to learn to get the timing right. It’s cool to poke check by poking forward with the Wii mote or moving a stick side for a stick sweep. The play without the puck is gratifying, to say the least. It’s also nice that one-timers are easy to execute (you only need to press B when accepting the pass), and you can also snap a shot when the puck is loose. You can even control the goalie using Wii MotionPlus, but the learning curve is a bit steeper.
All that aside, a huge benefit to 2K10 is that you get the same game modes offered in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. Pond Hockey, Season Mode, Franchise Mode and Practice, among others, are all included here. All the sliders to tweak the type of hockey you’ll play are also at your disposal. Throw in the Create-a-Player option, plus the Skills Competition that features Miis taking part, and you’ve got a solid package of content here. Playing against others online now has the added bonus of voice chat through the Wii Speak peripheral, though I found gameplay to be a bit too choppy sometimes, which is what conversations I had over Wii Speak were ultimately about. It’s not all bad, as I did play some games where there was no lag, but still, it’s a purely hit-or-miss scenario.
From a visual standpoint, 2K10 is perhaps marginally better than a PS2 game, given the overall lack of polish that you can’t help but notice. The crowds look awful, and they’re all pretty much in a trance, rarely ever moving or even acknowledging that a goal has been scored. The players don’t look as bad, thankfully, but there isn’t a whole lot of personality or character to them, either.
It’s not perfect and it needs more polish, but this is a definite improvement over last year’s effort. Wii MotionPlus, despite its caveats, makes the gameplay more realistic, although I have no problem conceding that 2K10 plays just as well with the classic controller. If you own a Wii and need a regular fix of hockey, this would be worth picking up.
Rating: 8 / 10
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.