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NHL 2K6 Xbox 360

Published by 2K Sports
Developed by Visual Concepts
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

NHL 2K6, an introduction.

The NHL 2K series (formerly branded as the ESPN NHL 2K series) is arguably the best ice hockey game series there has been. We've reviewed a few versions for both the Xbox and PlayStation 2 and it's fair to say that they've been better than the competition for some while now. It's great news then that the series has arrived on the Xbox 360 so early and with the promise of better graphics to compliment the excellent game play it could just prove to be a match made in heaven for ice hockey fans.

What's the game about?

NHL 2K6 for the Xbox 360 is practically the same game we reviewed on the PlayStation 2 earlier this year. 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, Mini-Rink, Pond Hockey, and Xbox Live (which supports ranked, unranked, season and tournament play). 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 or an Xbox Live 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 right analogue stick down which brings up 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 (which has actually been improved for the Xbox 360 version) amongst other things. It's worth noting that you can enable or disable any of these new features if you don't like them. 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?

Those expecting the game to be a fairly different product to the NHL 2K6 that appeared on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 last year will be disappointed as it's virtually identical. Whilst this isn't necessarily a problem, it may come as a disappointment if you already own a version of NHL 2K6. The graphical upgrade really isn't as big as you might expect (especially on a non-HDTV) and with a heftier price tag than the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions it might be difficult to recommend over those versions.

How does it look?

There's no denying that NHL 2K6 looks better on the Xbox 360 that it does on the Xbox or PlayStation 2. However the differences are not as great as you might expect. Naturally when using a HD display the increased resolution gives the impression that the game looks quite a bit better but when playing the game on a standard TV set you'll notice that apart from the slightly better player models and the more impressive looking ice there's little difference. When the camera zooms in on the audience or when you see spectators walking around before a game you'll see that the same character models from the other console versions have been used which is disappointing.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

NHL 2K6 is exactly the same on the Xbox 360 as it was on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 in regards to its support for deaf gamers. 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, such as all the information in Franchise mode and the tutorial text instructions that show you how to use the new features, are given in text.

Final thoughts.

Although we've pointed out a few disappointments we have with NHL 2K6 there is no denying that it's a great ice hockey game. The modes on offer are impressive and the AI just plays a superb game when played on the higher difficulty settings. In fact if you are an ice hockey fan that owns an Xbox 360 and you don't have a PlayStation 2 or Xbox then this is an easy choice. However if you do own an Xbox or PlayStation 2 then the choice is a little more difficult because for around £10-£15 less you can pick up either of those console versions and they are essentially the same game and whilst they are graphically inferior it's not by much at all. With either version though, you simply can't go wrong if you're looking for the best ice hockey game currently on offer.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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NHL 2K6 for the Xbox 360 is basically the same experience it was on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox which means it's an excellent ice hockey game. However, it's not for those who already own a version of the game on another system.