Excerpt: 2K Sports has reigned as champions of the virtual ice ever since Electronic Arts’ NHL franchise dropped the puck, so to speak, back in 2003. With NHL 07, however, EA opened a lot of people’s eyes, including yours truly, with the introduction of its innovative Skill Stick control system. All of a sudden the gap between the two competing franchises narrowed considerably, aided by an uninspired outing from NHL 2K7.
Excerpt: The NHL 2K series has built a reputation as the true fan's version of the game, featuring gameplay aimed at providing a realistic rendering of the sport. As you can imagine, this has earned the series a pretty loyal following, so it's a bit surprising at first to find that some of the biggest changes with this year's game are the new control scheme and superstar moves. Is this the end of NHL 2K's realistic brand of hockey?
Summary: Hockey fans will own both games anyway, right? I'd recommend picking this one up after NHL 08, as it's different enough to warrant the purchase, but sitting solidly in second place behind EA's juggernaut. I'm really hoping 2K9 is a revamp for the series - particularly the controls. It doesn't really matter if you have a far deeper gameplay pool to draw from, give us something we can work with to plumb those depths or that goes to waste.
Conclusion: Where the game does exceed is in its visuals and audio. The graphics are definitely a significant step forward from 2K7 and the player animations, particularly the superstar moves, are exceptional. The fluid animation and finely detailed players and jerseys make for a hockey game that’s easy on the eye. Player faces too are very well done. A visual aspect that does disappoint would be that of the menus, though functional enough, they simply aren't pleasant to view.