Has anyone played this yet? The reviews I am seeing on Operation Sports - Madden 09 - NCAA Football 09 - FIFA 09 – Tiger Woods PGA Tour – NBA 2K9 seem to be positive.
Seems like the old argument between eye candy and gameplay. Many are comparing it to 2k3 with a next gen upgrade which is a good thing.
Yes, the spirit of the game is still there. Thats kinda tough to pull off with a complete rebuild in less than one year but they did it.
It is much better than the demo, which was seriously depressing. The demo was from a two month old build and thank goodness the players look better than they did in the demo.
You will not find Koivu with a 99 toughness or Brashear with a better wrist shot than Briere in this title, you can tell that someone was watching the NHL last year and the player's stats do reflect their real life counterparts in most cases. You can also edit players and they have a nice range of equipment available, which is nice as I like to make all the Kings prospects with their correct gear.
For those who look beyond graphics and glitz, the game holds some surprises that hold true to the spirit of the sport. If you take at a run at a team's star player, it is a FACT that sometime, somewhere you WILL answer for that, the AI will put out the other teams tough guys, and a showdown will ensue.
The fighting engine is the BEST ever in a Hockey game, 2K went to Ken Belanger, Chris N. and others, who showed them how important balance is to fighting, and their engine reflects this. Even more impressive to me is that I have never seen the same fight twice, there are a bunch of different outcomes, the guy may turtle to the ice and get beat on, he might be knocked down and get up woozy, etc.
When I started taking a ton of hits at the opposing team, Brashear answered the bell, and the AI had him out a few shifts later and he came right after me. Each game has it's own story and different outcomes where you can point to this or that as the play that changed the game.
The AI has been tuned up this year, when I go back to my points (I like taking point shots), my D-men are there, (not EVERY time which would be cheesy) but they are there as they would be in the real NHL. This was not the case in last year's game. The AI is not perfect by any means, I have had 3 AI players come after me on more than one occasion, but this is not frequent enough to be an issue in my games, if a team is playing zone defense they do stick to their zones. The animations are much better and more varied this year, a couple saves by goaltenders have caused jaws to drop from those watching.
The Male/Female audience is even better this time out, have seen a guy chatting on his cellphone and varied responses to on-the-ice situations, and the players have new goal celebrations.
I really don't care about the advertised stuff like playoff beards and zamboni games, I need a Hockey game that captures the emotional highs and lows on the ice, the roughness that can change a game, and a lot of sliders to change the playing to as close to NHL as possible. On the sliders, when you go online the sliders are more limited, we finally found that going to team play allowed more options available, and we have yet to find a way to do manual line changes online.
Online has been available everytime we tried, with few lag issues (knock wood) and several glitch goals have been eradicated in this year's edition.
The franchise mode features the waiver system, trades, contracts, salary caps, and as usual a couple simmed seasons produced no bugs or franchise ending glitches. Free Agency is fun as you have to make your offers and wait on responses, but you can add incentives and sign players for up to 15 years if you don't upset them first by making offers that are too low. The main bug I found so far is that noone on the free agent list can be above a 79 overall in the franchise. You can still start your franchise with the above 79 ratings already signed to the teams you want them on, you just can't do it after you start your franchise, until the free agency period after your first season, all the above 79's showed up again.
They already have done a roster update, and Boyle is on the Kings along with Purcell, am having a great time with those guys, and as always the game will be supported by patches and frequent roster updates.
The controller options are back in the game from last year. Unfortunately, some early reviews gave the wrong layout names and people put it away without trying it due to control issues. They also said the game had problems with speed, while the SPEED option in the main menu was untouched, there are three options there, and have heard no complaints from people who used those speeds.
The puck physics are great, Skating not as clumsy as last year with skaters doing crossovers, etc, including the 4 officials on the ice.
Definitely worth a rental if you can get past the 1st year build of this engine and the control sets, there's an intriguing game that catches the "Spirit" of Hockey under there.