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Old 11-30-2005, 05:27 AM   #1
bapenguin
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[360] - NHL2k6 Review

NHL2k6 Review
Platform: Xbox 360
By: Nicholas ďbapenguinĒ Puleo

After missing a full year of NHL Action, hockey is back and better than everÖI think. At least, thatís probably what the NHL would want me to say. Hockey is back, and itís very different this year with a bunch of rule changes. Gone is the way of tie games and in its place are shootouts. The game has opened up with more scoring chances and higher scoring games.

NHL2k6 on the Xbox 360 is one of the first hockey games to fully utilize all the rules and changes of the NHL. The problem with the Xbox and PS2 hockey games from both EA and 2k had to do with the limited time developers had to implement all the rules. With the rules being finalized sometime around May or June, this gave developers 2-3 months tops to implement those changes. AI routines would have to be adjusted accordingly and it just never seemed to click.

NHL2k6 fixes a lot of the problems that plagued its little brother Xbox version. Players are now fully aware of how to play a game with no red line. Referees call icing much more realistically, and hooking and grabbing is almost automatically a penalty. Goalies know their roles, and line changes function properly.

Graphics:
The graphics of the game at times are really well done. At other times, you can tell the game took the Xbox version as a base and simply tacked on layers of graphical goodness. While player models seem improved and show more detail from the default playing view, the close-up view of players is somewhat disappointing. A lot of player faces have lost their accuracy and there is a weird lighting glitch in which the uniforms have a white highlight instead of a shadow on them. It almost makes them appear to glow, especially on darker colored uniforms. I also ran into a glitch where a player on my team didnít have a helmet on; or at least, his helmet was invisible. You could still see his chin straps just fine, but you could also see his hair.

The ice surface is downright perfect as skates leaves trails in the ice. The entire arena subtly reflects off the surface, things like scrolling marquees and jumbotrons can be seen in the reflection. It really is the best looking and most realistic ice to date. The glass around the surface now reflects the players as well, and helmets and visors reflect images and light more realistically. Overall the reflections are a nice touch, and really add to the realism.

Sound:
While the commentary itself isnít changed much, if at all, the on ice audio seems to be of higher quality. The crowd packs more punch and goal horns will rattle the walls of your living room on a nice 5.1 surround sound system. Overall it seems to be a better mixed 5.1 system than on the original Xbox version.

The music selection hasnít changed, but custom soundtracks are still in place. You are able to import your music from the hard drive or a PC (and probably Mp3 player, though I didnít try this) via play lists which is a nice feature. This is different than the dashboard overlay custom soundtracks as you can choose specific tracks for specific events. There is a glitch where sometimes the music doesnít stop for the event and continues to play until another event is triggered.

Gameplay:
The game plays nearly identical to the previous version with a few tweaks and bug fixes as well as an entirely new feature.

The annoying line change bug is gone from the previous versions and you can change lines with ease at the correct times. The game doesnít get stuck before a cut scene while you wait for the ref to take a puck to the face-off circle like before. Itís nice to see these 2 annoying bugs fixed.

One thing I really like that they changed is the ability to map the coaching controls and line changes back to the more traditional settings. Before you had to hold the left trigger and press the d-pad to make a line change, while the d-pad alone would be for coaching control. Now 2k6 gives you the option to choose which you would like to use the left trigger for. The gameplay has also been tweaked up to reduce the hitting a bit, and the game speeds have been adjusted here and there to give an overall better feel out of the box.

New to 2k6 is Crease Control which gives you more control over your goalie and making saves. Basically the way it works is you click in the right analog stick and your goalie gets this Eye of Sauron type thing. You maneuver the cone to look at the puck at all times. When a player shoots, you are given a little icon to show where the puck is coming, and you have to move a target over this to save the shot. If your cone was red when the shot was taken, your chances of saving the shot are much smaller than if it was green. It really is a neat feature overall and I found it a lot of fun to be the goalie on the power play. The problem with this feature is it really breaks the flow of the game. Itís not a required thing to use though, so no harm done.

I tried a few games online, the gameplay seemed a bit laggy. Itís hit or miss and itís really ashame because a hockey game really needs speed and flow with no lag. I donít understand what the issue is here because Iíve yet to run into another Xbox 360 title that has this kind of stutter/lag. The original title on Xbox has the same issue and itís ashame they didnít try to improve their network code at all.

Conclusion:
Overall NHL2k6 is sort of disappointing. After seeing what 2k Sports did with the NBA game, NHL just didnít look next-gen enough for me. And while a lot of bugs were fixed for the 360 version, a few new bugs were introduced. Donít get me wrong, NHL 2k6 is still a solid hockey title. But when you consider the Xbox version can be had for 1/3 the cost; itís kind of hard to justify the $60 purchase for so few upgrades. Hereís hoping to 2k7!

Good:
- Still the best hockey game out there
- Best looking ice to date
- Lots of Bug fixes

Bad:
- Graphics not all that
- New bugs

Ugly:
- $60 bucks for what?
- Not next-gen enough

Verdict:
3 out of 5 EvilEyes
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Old 11-30-2005, 06:24 AM   #2
bjornbarspingvinen
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reports I heard were that the AI was alot better and the "flow" was amazing.
Anyhow, I gladly pay 60$ for the best version of the best hockeygame, but I am a hockeyfreak
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Old 11-30-2005, 07:46 AM   #3
benson
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I think the AI is better, but I need to move up to Hall of Fame difficulty now. Last night, I won a game 9-4 on All Star (in my franchise with the Wild) with the hitting slider moved up for me and the cpu, and the cpu's goalie skill and anticipation sliders moved up as well. On the upside, I got the goal in less than 1 minute accomplishment done.

I have to agree that some of the players do look better, but some just don't look right at all. Gaborik does not look like himself in the new version, though the Xbox version had his face. However Brian Rolston looks good in the new one. Just kind of weird. And the ice surface is incredible.
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Old 11-30-2005, 08:11 AM   #4
bapenguin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benson
On the upside, I got the goal in less than 1 minute accomplishment done.
Ugh...that one has been killing me. I royally blow at faceoffs (like 25%) and can never get up the ice to score right off the bat.

We should give online play a try benson, hopefully we'll have better luck than when I tried it...my Wings will kick your Wild's ass.
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Old 11-30-2005, 08:17 AM   #5
*Legion*
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I'm definitely getting the 360 version along with my Christmas (hopefully) Xbox 360.

As a hockey fan, just having the AI improvements is worth the money to me. Plus, I'm willing to be a little more free with my money in support of 2K's sports titles, seeing as they're superior pretty much across the board.
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Old 11-30-2005, 08:34 AM   #6
kickmybum
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Man, I got this for the PS2 last week and this has got to be the worst looking hockey game I have ever seen. Seriously, I thought I was playing Blades of Ice on Nintendo. The whole franchise/sky box and everything is awesome, but the actual hockey part looks like turd. I can't believe this game still scores higher in graphics than EA in most reviews.
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Old 11-30-2005, 08:40 AM   #7
Ted Huge
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I'd agree with pretty much everything there, bapenguin. They definitely pooched some of the head models -- imagine how disturbing it is to see Ed Belfour's head on top of Eric Lindros' jersey. Finally got around to throwing a playlist together at the dashboard, which upped my appreciation for the game. It's great to be able to send out your power play to the Imperial March.

This is the one game I'm allowing myself which has "uncooked dough" in the middle - that is, a game whose engine was lastGen, and which has been bandaged up to go to the nextGen. So far, it has been totally worth it.

Plus EA can go collectively fuck themselves, IMO
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Old 11-30-2005, 08:45 AM   #8
bjornbarspingvinen
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yeah , totally agree Ted, this game has some flaws, but still itīs an amazing hockeygame. Best I have played actually. And I have played most of them since c64
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Old 11-30-2005, 10:37 AM   #9
TheBrainKills
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My problem with most of the reviews for the 360 version is that they always compare it to the xbox version. Why would you buy the same game twice? Can you play the xbox version on the 360?
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Old 11-30-2005, 10:41 AM   #10
falcon
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Can't play the standard Xbox version in the 360 as 2Ksports didn't release a BC patch (I bet there are at least 60 reasons why )

My problem with the game is that the announcers are absolutely horrible even for a sports game. The 2kSeries was always pretty good but then they switched to this pair and they are just awful.
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Old 11-30-2005, 11:01 AM   #11
mig
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I pretty much agree with everyone's comments here on EA. After getting a little burnt out on 2k6, I popped in 2k5, and enjoyed the awesome commentary and excellent controls. I think with time we'll come to appreciate more the goalie crease control, and the "set play" you can create with the A,B,X,Y buttons.

The biggest thing the 360 version has going for it, is the ability to output at 1080i and the crisper ice/models. Sadly, the 360 is turning me into a graphics whore.

If anyone wants a decent online game of 2k6, add me to your friends list , Gamertag of "Migoh". I'll play you to the bitter end of a 10-0 match up, just to deny you the shutout
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Old 11-30-2005, 01:49 PM   #12
ColdForged
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I agree with the gist of the review. I think the AI has definitely been tweaked over the Xbox version and tweaked for the better, though it feels like perhaps the goalies were made slightly too soft. I think the graphics and, most especially, the fluidity of the game are exceptional. I too appreciated the ability to remap the on-the-fly coaching as a habitual manual line changer.

To me, this was worth the upgrade cost.
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Old 12-01-2005, 12:31 AM   #13
bjornbarspingvinen
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I donīt agree about controls, and most at 2khockey.net seems to agree that 2k6 is the masterpiece of hockey. Myself I just love the improved physics, animation (how can you go back to 2k5s "off" shooting animations?), the increased ability to play close crease, shots can be released on contact (delay in 2k5 on rebounds), and the more realistic momentum in 2k6 is just amazing! Many people have trouble with the more realistic turn radius of 2k6 (at default), but either play it more to get used to it (itīs better) or simply do this :
turn down the ice friction slider, and voila you have the old 2k5 skate feel. But most people wouldnīt go back to that setting after getting used to 2k6s. And the goalies of 2k6 are just amazing, atlast a game that have goalies like the goalies of hitz pro (collison and behaviour).

About PBP, the 2k5 announcers were great, but now I actually like the famous canadians in 2k6. The are more stale than the Us ones, but they seem to have alot of more credibility. Anyhow I like all of them. I could rant more how good this game is for a hockeyfan like me... but I have to work now
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Old 12-01-2005, 04:17 AM   #14
Morratut
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I loved a NHL game on the megadrive. Had plenty of fun with it with friends, i think you could fight in it also.

If I liked that would you recommend this? Or is it a hockey sim?
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