NHL 2K6 E3 2005 Preshow Report

We cycle the puck in our first look at 2K Sports new hockey game.

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Here's hoping the folks at 2K Sports don't mind a challenge with their upcoming hockey game, NHL 2K6. After all, not only is the game being developed in the middle of a bitter fan-alienating labor dispute between NHL owners and players, but it will serve as a follow-up to the critically hailed ESPN NHL 2K5, one of the stronger hockey games in recent console history and a tough act to follow. Then, of course, there's the departure of the valuable ESPN presentation license--a feature that added a great deal of immersion to the overall hockey experience in last year's game. To be sure, the company has an uphill climb ahead of it.

Despite these obstacles, the 2K Sports development team won't be resting on its 2K5 laurels. Instead, the company will push ahead with a brand-new presentation scheme, new commentary, and cutscenes, as well as a number of gameplay tweaks and features. Among these features will be on-the-fly coaching, which will allow you to adjust your offensive and defensive game plan as the action unfolds on the ice, and a tweaked franchise mode that will find you scheduling workouts and scrimmages and working the mysterious art of team chemistry as your seasons progress. Two other 2K Sports games, NFL 2K5 and NBA 2K5, had elements of these types of franchise features in them, so it will be interesting to see how they've been altered for NHL 2K6.

The online bill of fare for 2K6 will include things like stat tracking and league play, though it's currently unclear if there will be a Web site incorporated into this feature such as the old ESPN Videogames site. With hundreds of new animations for nearly every aspect of the action--from goaltending to checks and shots--2K6 appears to once again bring an authentic look to the fastest game on ice. NHL 2K6 is currently on schedule for a fall release, and we'll be bringing you more on this game in the near future.

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