E3 2008: NHL 2K9 First Look

2K changes gears with its latest hockey sim, bringing back old-school gaming to the 360, PS3, and even the Wii.

By 2K's own admission, its hockey franchise has wandered away from the core principles that made hockey games fun to play. As a result, 2K has brought NHL 2K9 back to its Visual Concept studios in northern California. The hope is to rediscover the pickup-and-play nature of old-school hockey games. We had a chance to get a sneak peek at NHL 2K9 during E3 and saw some of the progress that has been made.

Speaking with Jeff Thomas, the executive producer of the game, it was clear that 2K wasn't pleased with the complexity of controls in last year's game. As a result, NHL 2K9 will feature an all-new control scheme built from the ground up. From single-button passing and shooting to the trigger used for turbo, the controls are designed to be as intuitive as possible, at least on the default setting. The hardcore fans may be pleased to hear that the more complex (and robust) controls of last year's game will still be an available option if desired.

Action has also been taken to enrich elements peripheral to the actual hockey gameplay. The fighting engine has been completely redone, and NHL 2K9 will even feature a Zamboni-driving minigame between periods. Steps have also been taken to bring out the pageantry of playoff hockey. Players will now grow playoff beards and, if you are lucky enough to win the Stanley Cup, you will have the opportunity to skate around the ice with the cup hoisted.

However, the biggest news regarding NHL 2K9 is undoubtedly its debut on the Nintendo Wii, which makes it the first hockey game for the console. In contrast to EA's approach to Wii sports games, NHL 2K9 maintains the look and feel of a simulation. Although the graphics aren't quite up to par with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, the gameplay and game modes do seem similar (although we are unsure if this applies to online play as well). Of course, all of this is forgivable with the implementation of the Wii control scheme. Specifically, the Wii version of the game brings a new twist to the controls.

The Wii Remote functions essentially as your hockey stick while shooting. A quick forward swing will produce a wrist shot, whereas a motion including a backswing will cause your player to rifle a slap shot. One-timers can also be executed by beginning your backswing prior to a player receiving a pass. In addition to more interactive shooting, the Wii version introduces a new point-to-pass mechanic unique to the console. Although regular button-press passing is also possible, the point-to-pass option lets you direct your passes anywhere on the ice by simply pointing the Wii Remote. The control even makes it possible to chain multiple passes together for a quick give-and-go.

We'll continue to bring you all of the news on NHL 2K9 as 2K releases more information on the game. Keep an eye out for the demo, which will be available on the Xbox 360 in a few weeks.

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Discussion

25 comments
gut_eater
gut_eater

oh my God, the graphics for this game on the Wii are A-W-F-U-L (a'la PS1)...please don't tell me those Wii graphics are a close comparison of the 360's!

Neilo_
Neilo_

@grambyte for crying out load?? hahaha plus i dont agree w. any of your comments, i think finally an NHL game for wii this is good ; a step in the right direction. from a canadian standpoint you seem like a typical american who doesnt like hockey and refuses to even acknowledge it. listen up, hockey has everything you want in a sport: amazing rivalries, sweet hi lites, physical contact, playoffs, fast pace, i dont understand why no one likes it neways go nintendo

Jackyll87
Jackyll87

The last NHL i enjoyed was NHL 98. Hope this brings me back to the series.

Speuj
Speuj

I'm confused.. Why were the controls of 2k8 considered so complex? Sure, there was a bit of a learning curve to it, but once you got the hang of it, it had to be the best controls I've ever used in a hockey game. That, and the fact that the players didn't do 360 degree pirouettes every time they got tapped by an opposing player made it leaps and bounds better than EA's game...

elite-asthmatic
elite-asthmatic

Reading this after reading up on NHL 09 makes me laugh, zamboni-driving minigame!?!?!? Wow great work.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

2K's last few NHL games have been so stale and stuck in the mud it's going take a miracle to top what EA is doing with NHL 09. 2K is now years behind and needs to find a few major innovations to get back in the mix. Right now EA with NHL 09 will be hoisting the cup once again. At least 2K realizes they messed up and are going back to what makes their game FUN again! It's a shame they wasted 3 years doing nothing but GIMMICKS, some BS music mode and horrible control schemes. Get it together 2K!!!!

countdouku1
countdouku1

why doesnt ea just add nhl to wii and make it all play edition

Macgyver40
Macgyver40

this looks like a great game for hocky fans

metaljeff
metaljeff

2k will win the Hockey war this year because VC have taken over.......They do a superb job on Basketball and Football, and I expect their taking on Baseball will be great too

guilhem_r
guilhem_r

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

grambyte
grambyte

I'll said it before and I say it again... why NHL for crying out load. Guess it's me that just hates this game I guess. Then again not a lot of comments, maybe I'm not alone on this after all.

Nickfury101
Nickfury101

The NHL absence for the Wii has really made me peeved, but i'm glad this is filling the void.

AbsentiaMan
AbsentiaMan

There really wasn't much info there. I don't understand how anyone can predict that they won't the game from that. Hopefully we get some more info today.

hardcorps1110
hardcorps1110

So basically controls aren't as crappy as last year and they are releasing it on wii......... so I put my order in for NHL 09..... I'd like to hear about what they did to improve the actually hockey game. I don't want to drive the damn zamboni. I'd like to see how the new fighting engines between 2k and EA compare. Unless they have something huge they haven't released I think EA will take this year too.

carstairs
carstairs

The Wii Remote could be great for this game :).

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

Don't think i'll get this one this year though

Cube_of_MooN
Cube_of_MooN

These annual installments drive me crazy sometimes... but who am I to tell people what they can and cannot buy.

gut_eater
gut_eater

weak...unless they match their control-scheme to EA's (or better), this series will always be #2.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

I love the R stick with EA's game... but I'm still hoping 2K recaptures the magic! There is room for 2 NHL games for me.... especially if the Wii version rocks.

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

I would like to try this hockey mechanic on the Wii.

lockjaw333
lockjaw333

First bit of info here. I'm super excited to see what VC is able to do with this year's game and....well....you guys gave me nothing! Lol. Please keep the info coming!