NHL 2K10: Exclusive First Hands-On

It's hard to look at NHL 2K10 and not think of how the hockey video game landscape has changed in just a few short years. As recently as 2005, the NHL 2K series was riding high--considered by many to be the superior hockey game (at least when compared to its direct rival, the arcade,...

It's hard to look at NHL 2K10 and not think of how the hockey video game landscape has changed in just a few short years. As recently as 2005, the NHL 2K series was riding high--considered by many to be the superior hockey game (at least when compared to its direct rival, the arcade, offensive-heavy NHL 06). Things quickly turned: EA Sports re-tuned its hockey series with a more focused, simulation approach. 2K's series, however, began to lose ground with a focus on features such as a new presentation, minigames, and sometimes-awkward control schemes. Last year, 2K brought the development of the NHL 2K series internally and found some success with NHL 2K9, especially on the Nintendo Wii, which sold nearly 200,000 copies despite mediocre critical reception. Yesterday, 2K producers came by GameSpot HQ to show off the latest build of NHL 2K10, which we first saw in Las Vegas. While 2K10 hasn't completely abandoned the arcade bent of the past few years, it seems like the series is preparing to set to wheel around and enter the same sim territory occupied by its competition.

In our last look at the game, we talked about stumble shots--which are essentially shots taken by a player when he's being accosted by opponents. Although the game trailer showing off the feature is a re-creation of Alexander Ovechkin's once-in-a-lifetime goal while on his back, it seems that most stumble shots are going to be far less dramatic.

In my time with the game so far, I've only seen a couple of them, and they often involved the shooter being pushed in such a way that he's shooting with only one skate on the ice, for example. In fact, I haven't seen a dramatic stumble shot goal yet, but I'm hoping to see one soon. After all, while you don't want every player to be standing on his head when shooting at the net, at least one spectacular goal every once in a while wouldn't hurt (though, I should admit, there is an achievement for scoring a stumble shot goal).

That said, big hits are still very much a part of NHL 2K10. Checking is a breeze in this game, both against the boards and, often, in the open ice. In fact, the developers behind the game are relishing that contact and have added more incidental contact between players away from the puck. This results in players jostling each other frequently--especially when chasing down pucks during dump-ins--as well as other goodies, such as players pinning each other to the boards.

From an AI standpoint, producers told me that a lot of work has been put into the game in the hopes of improving the CPUs ability to keep possession of the puck in the offensive zone, as well as interrupt passing lanes. In the former case, that's certainly true; on the default difficulty, the AI cycles the puck well, and it can be a chore to gain back possession of the puck. In terms of passing lanes, at least in my time with the game, it seems like more work needs to be done. At the default difficulty, long, up-ice passes are still abnormally accurate, especially those from the goalie to a forward.

New control tweaks for 2K10 include a stick lift button (Y on the Xbox 360 controller), which can be used in a number of different ways--from interrupting a shot attempt to preventing a player from receiving a pass. Naturally, using the stick lift carries a risk with it: If you attempt it with a mediocre player, you run the risk of incurring a slashing penalty. When skating, you have so-called one-on-one moves available to you, which are used to deke defenders. To pull them off, you hold the left bumper and then press a face button or move the right stick up, down, left, or right. These moves range from fairly straightforward, such as dangling the puck to one side, to more showboat, such as kicking the puck off your skate to try to fool a defender. When you're close to the goalie, you can perform so-called "Ovi Dekes" by holding down the left bumper and moving the right stick in one of four directions--these special moves will only be possible for players with a high-creativity rating.

Elsewhere in the game, NHL 2K10 will seamlessly integrate its online modes, similar to NBA 2K10. Instead of having an "Xbox Live" menu option, you'll be able to choose to play online from a specific game mode. So in the "quick game" option, you'll be able to fire up a game against the CPU, play a ranked online match, or invite a friend for an online game with just a flick of the left stick and the press of a button. That "online everywhere" philosophy extends to Franchise mode as well--not only can you play a game in your franchise season against an online friend (for that player, it will be a simple pick-up game), but you can also invite a friend to join you in a cooperative franchise game.

Franchise mode has also seen its share of additions--notably in a new option for salary restriction known as "team budget." Instead of working with the salary cap (which is also an option in Franchise mode), your team owner will adjust your team budget based on how your team is performing. The owner will make these adjustments twice a year--during the offseason and before the trade deadline. Your team status will depend on many factors, not the least of which is the likelihood of your team making the playoffs. In addition, all of the other teams in the NHL will have status updates of their own, so if you're looking to build for a playoff run and have the available cash, you can check around the league to see which teams are looking to off-load some talent.

If you're tired of a certain NHL team (myself, I could do without the Anaheim Ducks), you'll be able to replace it in your NHL 2K10 franchise using the create-a-team option. Here, you can choose to create a uniform from scratch using either generic logos or those from the NHL, as well as a unique color scheme. If you're looking to bring back the Hartford Whalers but want to use the Dallas Stars' color palette or one entirely of your own making, you'll be able to do so. From there, you can choose to invite friends to your team or recruit players from the pick-up games leaderboard to fill out the rest of the spots on your team. In addition to playing online with your created team, you'll be able to use created teams in Franchise mode. In other words, good-bye Anaheim Ducks; hello Winnipeg Jets.

Other details of note for NHL 2K10 include the ability to upload your franchise data such as scores and stats to the 2K Sports Web site, as well as the ability to upload created rosters, draft classes, and sliders via the 2K Share service, which is newly implemented in this year's game.

The biggest news for NHL 2K10 for the Wii is, perhaps, its scope. Unlike last year, 2K10 for the Wii will include all modes found in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, including full online support via friend codes and Wii Speak. The controls for the Wii version have been tweaked as well--with more emphasis on button controls and less on the waggle controls that dominated last year's game. Wii MotionPlus controls are in this year's game, and the one-on-one motion during a slap shot backswing is pretty impressive. Not only will it register how far back you've swung the Wii Remote, but the speed of your shot will also be determined by how quickly you follow through on your swing. You'll also be able to perform passes by flicking in any direction and pressing the A button. You perform stick handling moves by holding down on the D pad and moving the Wii Remote in any direction--a handy way to pull off stick sweeps and poke checks when on defense.

Though it still has some ground to cover to return back to the simulation-style hockey that defined the NHL 2K series a few years ago, it looks like 2K Sports is set on changing the public's perception of the game. We'll find out how successful that focus is when NHL 2K10 is released on September 15.

Written By

Want the latest news about NHL 2K10?

NHL 2K10

NHL 2K10

Discussion

97 comments
buzzguy
buzzguy

You got to admit, guy, the Wii version looks like ALOT of fun this year! Might have to be NHL 10 for my 360, and 2K10 for my Wii! On Wii = my wife might actually play! WIN!

nhug92
nhug92

looks like a great game

auto_fan
auto_fan

best game the best game i m from ger

auto_fan
auto_fan

its a very good game the best of eu comm on play the game

Muzzle812
Muzzle812

it looks like a good game.. cant waite til i use SID THE KID 87 YA!!!! :)

savoie10
savoie10

Oh there's is plenty wrong with both 09 versions, but I'm done with that chapter anyways.

greyghost33
greyghost33

theres nothing to bag when u compare the two.but im done bagging 2k and im just hoping its a good gm for the wii.

savoie10
savoie10

"Here is your 'defending 2Kseries' 10G Bravo." I would defend EA too, but you don't get people baggin on it like 2K. Love, often blinds people to reality though, so what do ya expect?

savoie10
savoie10

You guys should go to 2KSports.com and read the Developer Insight Blog. It may change the way you think of 2K10. There are many more to come as well. Hey Egatti, I have made alot of posts here, granted. I've been off work for over a month taking care of my newborn son and fiance, so I do have life believe it or not. Don't worry you'll see much less of me once I go back to work in a week.

Spanishflea12
Spanishflea12

Savoie10 is my hero haha. Personal views on 2k10: It looks good. But 2k9 last year was dissapointing (at least most wii owners were). We were grateful that we got a game...but we got a "take-it-or-leave-it" deal. 2k10 looks better all around if you ask me. Its got everything that 360 and ps3 has and more (wii exclusives were mentioned). Graphics look better, and the player movement isnt robotic. It just looks much more promising than 2k9 did and im not saying its a door crasher for wiiowners but it looks better than last years version.

hockeyjake36
hockeyjake36

I still think the ea's hockey game is better the graphics are a lot better then 2k's, but 2k does have more equipment in their games.

Egatti
Egatti

savoie10 has little or no life. How many posts is that now? You will probably go back and count now to prove my point. Here is your 'defending 2Kseries' 10G Bravo.

Toro_Nev
Toro_Nev

the wii game sounds amazing, I hope it turns out to be a hit

BallOBaseSimmer
BallOBaseSimmer

While 2K Sports may be one of the sports title monopolies that slumped the gaming industry, they've at least made recent efforts to revive PC releases. But of course whether they did that for a volume 10 free of bugs and incompatibilities remains to be seen.

Tribesmaster
Tribesmaster

I will probably buy this game when it's less than 10 bucks, which will probably be a month after it's released. :) jk. I will obviously be getting NHL10 when it's out, but if I hear GREAT things about 2k10 I might pick it up. I doubt it though since I hated 2k8 and 2k9. :(

savoie10
savoie10

"Also, they're only focusing on the actual gameplay and not the other things, like the new Dynasty options" False, maybe you should do a little more research. "No AI Doublebacking: I don't know what else to call this, but it's when the AI spins around and comes back toward you for any pass you make" The idea is to make quick passes, but I agree it is annoying. The controls are suppose to be much better as well. "2K sucks!!! there just trying to copy NHL 09 and its not working!!! it looks like we're going to have anther really bad game!" You're pathetic EA fanboy, at least comments like this make you seem as such. Borrowing ideas is the nature of the business loser. Nobody gave anybody exclusive rights to any features, except the NFL/NCAA give EA those licenses. "its savoie vs the world" Yeah, I can't help it all you EA nuts like come and bag on 2K.

burnout_toreach
burnout_toreach

Keep trying there boy you're just going to fail again i can feel it

Hoodstock
Hoodstock

Sadly the best hockey game on the Wii since EA screwed it again !!!

Cavatica
Cavatica

I'm sorry, but I need to see more. As much as I love 2k's Manual Deflections, attention to detail (you can almost tweak any element with a slider, something I wish EA would really look into), and Goalie control, it's still 2k6 with a high gloss sheen until someone tells me different. I hope the controls are fixed too. There are little things about this I do like: - Circles under the players rather than EA's Sims diamond. I miss those. - Pinning to the boards (which NHL10 will have). - Names and positions under the players - Nice to see. - Presentation of the stadiums (but 2k's always done that well - that little mini cam of someone jumping onto the Ice is sweet). What needs to be fixed: - Those god awful controls from last year. EA's controls are to the point. I don't have have a problem with giving the player the ability to *do* everything, just let us customize the controls or something. - No pass throughs. In EA, you can potentially pass through a player from time to time. 2k always hits a skate (though I guess that's just physics). - No AI Doublebacking: I don't know what else to call this, but it's when the AI spins around and comes back toward you for any pass you make. If the team is moving forward, keep going that way. Don't backtrack like that. I still need to see more from this before I buy this one. NHL10's a lock for me right now.

gameguy0697
gameguy0697

2K sucks!!! there just trying to copy NHL 09 and its not working!!! it looks like we're going to have anther really bad game!

greyghost33
greyghost33

its savoie vs the world,lol.from the sounds of things 2k knows 2k9 was horrible and they are really rrying to make a complete turnaround this yr.are they actually gonna make a good hockey gm this yr or are they just promising something they cant back up.maybe there needs to be a third company who needs to make another hockey gm to compete with EA.i need this gm to be good so i can enjoy it on the wii.

Chayto
Chayto

It does look better than 2k9, but there's a long way to go to get to where EA is today. Also, they're only focusing on the actual gameplay and not the other things, like the new Dynasty options, and as far as I know, 2k still doesn't have a Superstar mode yet.

savoie10
savoie10

chingchow48, what does the coverboy really matter? John Madden was the worst coverboy EVER, but it never stopped anybody from buying the games. I don't care who's on the cover or what they do in their personal lives. I buy the games to play hockey, not look at the cover. Grow up already. Like you've never done anything stupid in your lifetime.

savoie10
savoie10

"why's the puck like a foot in diameter?" Maybe because Puck Shadow is on.

chingchow48
chingchow48

i will know be buying this game as Patrick Kane assulted and Robbed a Cabbie in Buffalo! he is a DOUCHE anyway not even a point a game player why would EA choose him instead of Crosby (I HATE CROSBY but still u cant deny he has passing talent) or even Malkin or a Goalie like Brouder? Luongo? w.e Ovie is the Man and Kane is a Douche! (I LOVE EA TOO! best sports making game company ever but a very bad move having KANE on the COVER!)

savoie10
savoie10

I'm find happiness with both games, thanks.

MadmanMorris
MadmanMorris

SAVOLE10, Hi, I hope you find happiness in NHL 2k10, I really do, I'm pulling for you man. Good luck with that.

savoie10
savoie10

Ever since EA replaced Warfield or whatever his name was, with Littman, is when the NHL series made its turn around. For that matter, I think having Peter Moore is what really has EA focused right now. I think having Visual Concepts over all the 2K Sports games will make a huge difference as well. It appears it already has honestly.

ChamomileBaths
ChamomileBaths

Ever since Riticello headed EA the sports games (and everything else) have gotten MUCH better. That might be a coincidence but really Madden 06 shoulda been skipped on 360 and maybe even 07 on all platforms (none were ready minus PS2 and Xbox)

savoie10
savoie10

"There is no flow to the game as the players, especially on defense, appear to stand around." Hmm, haven't seen this in EA NHL before. "GARBAGE , looks awful" Thanks for the shallow opinion.

smitherean
smitherean

[quote]In other words, good-bye Anaheim Ducks; hello Winnipeg Jets.[/quote] Hello Hamilton Coyotes!

DeltaSpirit
DeltaSpirit

Looks better than last year but seems like 2K still needs to work on the pace of the game (I know they have sliders but still) and contact between players though It great they're still working hard. I'm getting NHL10 and NHL2K10 maybe not first day but I eventually. GO SHARKS!

malsin187
malsin187

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

malsin187
malsin187

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Cruse34
Cruse34

2k9 for wii was horrible and this dosen't seem to improve it much

kevin1927z
kevin1927z

Honestly, this game doesn't look good at all. Some of the movements in the videos aren't fluid and don't seem realistic, it just seems a bit too arcade-like. NHL 09 looks better than this, never mind NHL 10. With that said, I am in no way trying to ballwash EA, I am just being honest and EA is by far making the better hockey game right now. 2K just isn't competing with EA right now.

RangersRock30
RangersRock30

Have fun 2k fans but EA will be the winner this year again. Im happy that it looks like 2k has improved from last year....and I hope they get better..2k9 was embarrasing. Competition+2 good hockey games=better hockey games in the future.

greyghost33
greyghost33

the puck looks huge!player movement looks alittle more fluid.hope its good on the wii.nhl10 on the ps3 and nhl2k10 on the wii!0.0

Skihawks
Skihawks

I remember when 2K was the leader in innovation in all games. Over the past few years, this has hardly been the case (minus NBA 2K). The hockey series has taken bug steps backward. The video, to me, looks messy. There is no flow to the game as the players, especially on defense, appear to stand around. Not to mention the animations look bad. I am sure this game will have some offerings but EA's game is much better at this point....

MagicMarker617
MagicMarker617

Wall of text alert: Just one man's opinion: Back in the day when 2K made its first big run at EA with their football and hockey games (when they were 20 bucks), I bought both EA and 2K hockey. I had been doing that every year until I felt like 2K took too many shortcuts in their games, especially baseball. I rooted for them when the evil EA blocked them out of the football market. However, their baseball game has deteriorated to laughable status (as this website will attest) and regardless of how much their hockey game has improved, I will not buy it. They ripped me off once this year and I'm not going to let it happen again. All that said, this is how it is: 2K football was BETTER than Madden, that's why EA paid so much to to block them out. MVP Baseball is BETTER than MLB 2Kx. EA has better people handling their physics, it's just that simple. I'd rather play the Playstation version of MVP Baseball and edit the rosters manually, then simulate the amount of seasons it would take me to get to 2009 than play MLB 2K9. Seriously. I hate MLB 2Kfail. The NHL versions both have pros and cons, but EA has a familiarity that has sustained since Sega Genesis. 2K emphasizes checking, and I've always appreciated that, and I've always enjoyed their mini-games. We'll see what EA has for improvements this year, it's unfortunate that I won't get to play this game due to principle.

bizuit
bizuit

Savoie10-"Sorry, but I personally find the EASHL to be overrated. All the bickering about teams juicing and glitching last year and the glitching most likely won't end there" aWell since this seems to be directed at me because you said it right above mine I will address it I guess, I'm not in any league and play with friends I know, if you play with six people you cant glitch the goalie which in turn makes this game having pretty much no glitches when it comes to the EASHL, I owned 2k5 and 2k7 and liked them a lot online but I NEVER had as much fun playing those as I did playing the EASHL, I got NHL 09 as a gift in Feb. and almost play it everyday to this day. No sports game has ever had this kind of staying power for me. Which is why its going to be hard for 2k10 to beat out the EASHL.

sTyLnK
sTyLnK

The 2K games the last few years aren't bad by any means, it's just that EA has raised the bar to an incredible level and is just that much better.

savoie10
savoie10

"Why don't they just give up already?" Yes why don't you and every other EA fan that has nothing better to do than trash 2K's effort. Why do you people waste your time, if you are so gung ho on NHL10? Heck even if I didn't like NHL10, I sure wouldn't waste the time to go to its forums and previews to talk s**t about it. "I think the only reason some people like this game is because they are the people who cant figure out the ea controls" Yeah, they are so complex and difficult to get the hang of, give me a break. Who cares why anyone likes 2KHockey, it's their choice. Why do you care so much?

Hahaha9111
Hahaha9111

Most of you guys on hear either don't watch hockey or are completely retarded. EA does not deliver anything close to the perfect hoockey experince. The game is still the arcade run and gun and dangle your way up the ice. its sad. 2k10 looks sim, especially with the read and react play not the garbage nhl 10 reharsh crap they are trying to put out. Dangling is the only way to win and the game is still terrible. it has always been, the only reason people like it better is because 2k has been doing nothing for a while and ea covers their game in glossy like graphics where all the players including patrick kane is fat.

geekindenial
geekindenial

well i think the game intro scene looked good at least. you actually see the whole team skating during the warm-up unlike NHL 09 where you only see the starters. i commend 2K for trying to compete with EA as any kind of monopoly would suck (eg Madden). maybe next year they'll be able to catch up? :^)

pellican_69
pellican_69

wow!2k is looking like it will b the same crap just in a different pile.i think the only reason some people like this game is because they are the people who cant figure out the ea controls.its funny 2ks hockey games look like EAs hockey when i played it on my sega. I can c the demo will b the extent of playing this game gets from me. EA NHL10 cant wait!!! GO CANUCKS!!!

wopchop23
wopchop23

Ea Sports takes this year again. Cant wait for NHL 10

eliethebest_1
eliethebest_1

This game looks ok... NHL 10 should be better but one thing where NHL 2k10 excels is the ability to customize everything. I love all those sliders option so you can fine tune the game to the exact experience you want to get. Plus, i love the idea of being able to download user created rosters and draft classes because i hate waiting for the new rosters in EA game. With user created rosters i wouldn't have to change my roster manually at every trade or line change as someone else will do i for me :) EA should copy that idea to this year's game. Sorry for my mediocre english GO HABS GO!! and FLAMES too!