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NHL 2K6 PlayStation 2

Published by 2K Sports
Developed by Kush Games
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

NHL 2K6, an introduction.

NHL 2K6 is the latest in one of the best ice hockey game series there has been. In previous years we've been very impressed with the standard of the games which has surpassed all other ice hockey games on the market. This year of course there is no ESPN branding, so the presentation is different to some degree but essentially it still plays a great game of ice hockey.

What's the game about?

There's a lot of content here for Ice Hockey fans ranging from a Quick Game to a full blown Franchise mode that can take up months of your time. The modes on offer include Quick Game, Hit the Ice, Party Mode, Season, Playoffs, Franchise, Tournament, Dream Team, Skills and Online. There are also some extra mini-games in the Extras menu. Suffice to say then the game is chock-full of content and whether you want an in-depth single-player experience, a quick mini-game with up to 3 friends (using the Multitap of course) or an online game, NHL 2K6 pretty much has you covered.

What's good about the game?

NHL 2K6, like previous titles in the series, plays a superb game of ice hockey and is one of the best ice hockey games on the market. This year the developers have included new features and some of these are actually very useful. The new Pro Control involves pressing the R3 button which brings the controller icons next to your players. You can press the relevant button to pass to a player of your choice or double tap a button to make that player perform a one-timer, amongst other things. The Pro Control system really works well and adds to the overall experience. The directional pad can now be used to coach on the fly for both offensive and defensive tactics. Other new features include team chemistry (which is basically another way of saying whether individuals get along or not) for both the line creations and player relations with your staff in Franchise mode, enforcers (who are marked with an icon) and manual goaltending amongst other things. You'll have to have certain options enabled to use some of these features though. Like in previous versions, NHL 2K6 allows you to have simple or advanced controls (by enabling or disabling certain advanced features). The benefit of all this is that you can either give yourself an arcade-like ice hockey experience or go for an in-depth simulation experience, which makes the game suitable for newcomers and ice hockey veterans alike.

What's not so good about the game?

Probably the biggest disappointment with NHL 2K6 is that the US price tag of $20 manages to translate as £29.99 (around $52) so in effect we in Europe are paying twice as much which is kind of annoying. It's also £10 more than last year's game was on release.  Not all of the new additions to the game were worthwhile. The manual goaltending for instance will be ignored by most. On the whole though most of the new additions work well and are effective so there is little to complain about.

How does it look?

Naturally with the ESPN branding no longer here, there has been some alteration to the presentation of the game. However, the game hasn't really suffered, although some aspects do seem a little bland this year because of this but NHL 2K6 looks as good as any other ice hockey game on the console. The menu system that has been used does feel a little cluttered but it's hardly problematic. The player models haven't really changed since last years game but they still look good. The frame rate is generally fine although it does drop a little at times (as have all previous versions on the PlayStation 2). Load times can seem quite long at times but they are probably around the average for a PlayStation 2 game.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The game commentary isn't subtitled in NHL 2K6 but aside from that, deaf gamers will not have any problems. During a game you're notified as to why a face-off has been given. The words 'puck frozen' or 'offside' will appear under the score on the top left of the screen. There aren't any captions for the referee's whistle and sirens that signify the end of a period, but this doesn't really cause any problems. Possession breakdowns are also shown in text. Outside of the matches, there are no problems as all information is given in text.

Final thoughts.

The ESPN branding may have gone elsewhere but the great game play is still here and some of the new features only serve to make this another great ice hockey game. Some of the new features don't really have much of an impact on the game and it's a shame that this year's version is more expensive than last year's version (although that was rather cheap at just £19.99). Still if you want the best ice hockey experience on the PlayStation 2, NHL 2K6 is the game to go for.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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NHL 2K6 is the latest in a great ice hockey game series and fans of the series will not be disappointed. The new Pro Controls work well although some of the other new features are not so successful.