This is the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde . . .
As per my normal review M.O. I will start at the game's main menu. The first choice you come to is the "Wii Motion Plus Instructional Video". Nintendo came out with a controller add-on called Motion Plus that apparently makes the Wii Remote a lot more precise in measuring your movements and translating them in to the appropriate game actions. My game didn't come with the Motion Plus add-on like some of my friends' did, so I can't really wager any type of opinion on this matter.
The second choice is called "Quick Game" and this gets you in to NHL game action the fastest of all the game modes. You select this option, pick your two teams (you can also select what jerseys you want them to wear) and you are off to the arena!
The third choice is "Extras" and here you have a number of options. You can view the game's FAQ section, check out the online user leaderboards, view the game credits, edit user profiles, and enter cheat codes.
Next we come to "Game Modes", and this is where the main bulk of this game is accessed. Once you choose this option a number of different game modes will be presented to you. The first one you will see is "Practice". Pretty self-explanatory! Choose this and you are off to the practice rink to work on your game. There are three different areas of your game you can practice including breakaway, defense, and powerplay. Practice also gives you the choice to view the game's tutorials. There are three tutorials in total and they concentrate on offense, defense, and goalie. Lastly you can also choose to practice the shootout. Pick the two teams (and uniforms!) to compete and off you go for a three round (or more) shootout!
The second game mode you will see is "Franchise" mode. This is the most in depth mode of the game. You choose your team and then you play consecutive seasons in a row, attempting to build a hockey dynasty. So you don't just have to worry about playing through a season and then a playoff (maybe) in this mode, you have to worry about everything in between as well. The draft, trades, player salaries, etc. You gotta commit to this mode!
The third mode is called "Mini-Rink" and is a very carefree and fun experience. What you do is pick two skaters (can be any combination of defensemen and forwards) and a goalie and you are off to an undersized rink to play some two on two shinny! You can choose any player you want from any team in the league which makes it even more fun. You play three periods in this mode as you would in a regular game of hockey.
The next game mode is the "Online Leagues" function. In this mode you can create your own team or join an existing one, and then compete in online hockey leagues for virtual supremacy! I haven't tried this mode because the internet connection at our new house has been terrible since we moved there in the summer, but I have heard many good things about this mode through the grapevine. The fact that you can play online with various other hockey lovers is a very cool concept, let alone be tracked by leaderboards and win championships to boot!
The "Team-Up" mode comes next and it is related to the Online Leagues mode, just a little less in depth. It's more of a quick play type of mode for the online portion of the game. Here you can view/edit any created teams you have, choose to join somebody else's team, view team invitations, or play a game of online pick-up hockey.
Next comes the "Playoffs" game mode. If you don't want to play through the gruel of an 82 game NHL regular season and just want to get straight to the second season, this is your mode. Choose your team and you will be inserted in to a bracket with 7 other teams from your conference, eventually working your way up to facing that one team from the opposite conference you will be competing against for the Stanley Cup.
We then come to "Season" mode. Choose your team and then prepare yourself for a grinding 82 regular season game schedule. Along the way you will have to deal with things like injuries, trades, etc., but if you play well enough you will qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Take your team through four rounds of playoff hockey and you can call yourself a Stanley Cup champion! I don't have the time to play Franchise mode in these types of games so Season mode is usually the mode I utilize most in any type of sports game these days.
The last game mode is called "Pond Hockey". It's similar to the Mini-Rink mode but there are two major differences. First, you choose a full team of skaters (two defensemen and three forwards) plus a goalie to compete in this mode instead of just the two skaters and a goalie in Mini-Rink. The other difference is that the rink you play in is located outdoors in the frozen wilderness! You play three full periods in this mode as well. Ahhh pond hockey, there's nothing like it . . .
Finally we can now get back to the main menu! The next choice you come across after Game Modes is "Manage Roster". This is where you can take care of anything related to player activity easily and all in one place. When you choose this option you will then have access to create players, edit lines, set in-game strategies, create a team, view rosters, and view the draft class.
The next choice is the "Features" option, which is where all of the unlockable content is found, among other things. When you go here you first find the "Trophy Room". There are 50 trophies in all to earn in this game and you do so by completing certain objectives. To view the objectives in question just highlight the various trophy slots (whether you've earned it or not) and it will tell you what that particular objective is. In this option you can also find the "2K Sports Ticker" (view actual current sporting scores), "2K Beats" (fiddle around with the game's soundtrack options), "My Box Scores" (view details of games past), "2K Share" (upload information from other 2K10 users like players, settings, rosters, draft classes, etc.), and "Zamboni Race" (re-surface the ice with the Zamboni machine, which the game gives you the option of doing in between periods of every game you play as well).
The second last choice from the main menu is the "Mii Superskills" game mode. This is technically another game mode but it vastly differs from all the others in this game. When you fire this mode up you are not controlling the NHL players in the game as you do in all the other modes, you take control of the Mii you have created to represent yourself on your Nintendo Wii! You just pick which team you want your Mii to represent and then you are off to do a number of skills contests including fastest skater, accuracy shooting, hardest shot, breakaway challenge, and goalie supersave. There is also an option that let's you do all of them in a row and make a big competition out of it. This is a really kooky and fun mode, just like Mini-Rink and Pond Hockey!
The eighth and final choice on the main menu is "Options". There are quite a number of adjustments you can make to your gaming experience on NHL 2K10, including GamePlay Options (period length, fighting, line changes, etc.), NHL Rules (offsides, icing, penalties, etc.), Auto Sign-In, Presentation (audio/visual settings), My Controller (change various controller settings), Difficulty (adjust a number of sliders that affect the difficulty of the game), and Load/Save (load/save settings and rosters and adjust the autosave feature).
As for the controls in this game, they do make sense. There are a ton of commands you can give in this game so I'm not going to go over all of them, but I will gloss over the vitals. The control stick is what moves your player around the ice. Holding down the Z button will give your player a temporary speed burst. Moving the Wii Remote straight towards the screen will make your player perform a wrist shot. Holding down the B button and moving the Wii remote towards the screen will make your player take a slapshot. The A button is used for a number of purposes. Holding it down and then moving the Wii remote back and forth is how you win faceoffs. It is also used to change players when you don't have control of the puck and to pass when you do have it. By shaking the nunchuk your player will perform a deke. Pressing the – button will let you take control of your goalie, press it again to change back to a skater. As for body checking, all you do is move both the nunchuk and the Wii remote towards the screen at the same time when you have somebody lined up. For fighting you turn the nunchuk vertical and adjust it right and left to keep your balance, then you actually punch with your other hand holding the Wii remote to throw bombs. + is used to pause the game.
Speaking of pausing, you have a number of options when you take a break from game action. These include replay, game stats (game, team and player stats), coaching (edit lines and adjust strategies), options (camera, controller, gameplay, difficulty, choose side, presentation and NHL rules), call timeout, and quit.
Now that I've explained the game in detail I'll immediately go in to the pros and cons. There are many pros too, despite the rating I gave this title. First is the game's presentation. The soundtrack is really good (not quite as good as EA Sports but close!) and the visual quality of this game is unbelievable! The colour and graphics are fantastic. All the buildings around the league, as well as the NHL teams and their uniforms, were really well done. The accuracy of the player animations are fantastic, especially the goalies, who are always the hardest to get right. This game is just a treat to look at. The other big pro to this game is the amazing amount of game modes it contains. There are so many varied and unique things to do in this game it's crazy.
Unfortunately that brings us to the cons. There are two major problems with this game, the first being the controls. Although the controls make sense in theory, when it comes to the game picking up what you are trying to do, they really could have done a much better job! When I first started playing this game I didn't really have this issue, but somewhere along the line something went wrong and it really soured my NHL 2K10 experience. For some reason my players won't perform wrist shots, they pass the puck randomly when I don't tell them to, and they make these weird little dekes all the time without my telling them to, usually right at the worst moments. Another thing with the controls is that they don't have a shut off for when you go from not having control of the puck to all of a sudden having it because of a turnover or something. For example, if you are closing in on an opponent for a body cheque and you gain control of the puck before the hit is thrown, the command you gave by pushing the nunchuk and remote forward still goes though and you end up shooting the puck down the ice. There should have been some sort of auto-cancel built in on commands you make without the puck when you all of a sudden gain control of it unexpectedly. Last is the unrealistic player responses. First, the goalies. No matter who you've got between the pipes the goalies in this game suck! If you can manage a save percentage over .850 in a game it's a friggin' miracle! You can't depend on goaltending at all in this game. Another thing that makes me angry is how you can work over opposing players along the boards and never separate them from the puck, even though you've taken a number of healthy runs at them. However, when the shoe is on the other foot and it's the computer controlled team taking a crack at your player with the puck, it will be stolen from you every time. Very frustrating! Last is the artificial intelligence of the players, they just do stupid things out there. The biggest example is the defensemen in the offensive zone . . . don't even try to utilize them! If you put a puck back to the point in the offensive zone you'd better make sure you've got a clear shooting lane, because if your shot is in any way blocked or you mishandle the puck, the other team gets a breakaway 99 times out of 100! No matter how many strategies I tried to adjust I was never able to curtail this problem.
Overall this is actually a really great looking game with a ton of good ideas and a plethora of game modes. But the fact that the controls are so poor, the goalies suck, and the players constantly make stupid decisions make it almost unplayable. Recently I was in the middle of the playoffs on this game when it really stared driving me nuts. I was finally pushed over the edge and decided to put the game away! Maybe one day I'll get the Motion Plus attachment and pick this game back up where I left off, but that will be no time soon . . .