Justin Lee On October 14, 2005 at 10:47 am

Hockey is back this season and I’m ready to sit down with some snacks! Frankly I didn’t buy any of the "05" hockey games since there wasn’t a season because of the strike. This makes me extra excited that 2K Sports sent me a copy of NHL 2K6 for the Playstation 2 to review.

Without going into much detail about how EA likes to buy up sports licenses so there is no competition (*cough* NFL), and EA taking over the ESPN license didn’t help 2K Sports who had the license down pat in my opinion! However, with this huge mess of things it looks like 2K Sports has still got it for NHL 2K6.

Let’s start off with the new features of NHL 2K6. Don’t you hate it when you pass the puck left and it ends up flying forward and you get icing? No problem with the new ProControl feature: Simply push in the Right Analog (R3) and each player on the screen will have an icon. You can perform some pretty crazy passes with the ProControl feature that is just impossible in other hockey games. I just wish the icons were a little bigger, but hey I need a bigger TV than 28 inches ok?

You can also take control of the goalie, but without a 3rd person view it is pretty hard to make saves, a fun feature to make a save with the analog stick but I think I’ll stick with my regular players.

Since the ESPN license is gone, 2K Sports headed to Canada to get Bob Cole and Harry Neale. I hear these guys all the time watching real NHL games on TV, but for some odd reason they sound like puppets reading off a script most of the time. The colourful commentary works, but the in game announcements need work. Perhaps it would had been better to just use audio from a real game instead of trying to make them read off a script. There was also an occasional "game pause" during some loading of audio, which was slightly annoying…I thought it was our Playstation 2 so I swapped it over to another unit and it still did the same "pause" loading some audio.

Another nifty feature is using the D pad to engage the On the Fly Coaching, you can quickly crash the net or even call back players for defence when you know you are in trouble. Speaking of defence, don’t you hate it when you accidentally drag a defenseman too far out? No problem, most of the time the computer AI will try its best to get back into position.

The game mechanics are still sharp as ever, it really feels like you are playing hockey. Rebounds are realistic; you can feel the rush of a breakaway or even a bone crunching check!

Is it just me or does 2K Sports load up the game to the teeth with unique features? This has been a long time annoyance of console hockey games…WHY THE HECK CAN’T I SKATE BACKWARDS? In this year, they make it right! You can now finally skate backwards without having to turn around when on defence! I also love the deke feature, you hold down a button and use the analog stick to deke the goalie out so he has no clue if you are going left or right.

All game modes you come to love are still here, Quick Game, Exhibition, Mini Games and Franchise mode: which for some odd reason is not in the Canadian manual we got?! I guess 2K Sports assumes Canadian’s have hockey blood running through our veins (well, we kind of do) and we can manage a team from drafting, trading entire season of hockey. The Mini Games have a few new additions and is a blast to play with 4 players, think of it as a party game but with pucks…quite fun even for non hockey fans!

Multiplayer action is great with up to 8 players with two multi-taps on the Playstation 2 so you can really have a head to head game. Online play is also a blast! You can check out leader boards, download the latest NHL Roster to keep your game up to date and of course you can play other people across North America. The voice chat feature eliminates the need to use the wonky on screen keyboard but you meet some pretty crazy people online.

There are lobbies you can chat in or a Quick Match option where you can specify a Rank or even Host Feedback (I hate people who disconnect when losing!). The lobbies are sorted into Beginner, Advanced games or try out the Skills room (a.k.a. Mini Games). Friend’s lists are great feature to find and keep track of your buddies. Don’t get the audio mute button to quiet that kid shouting as his mom for chocolate milk through his Playstation 2 headset.

One really odd thing is the horrible online interface; while some parts of the menus are straight from the offline game…some are totally made from scratch with horrible button presses. An example of the awful online menu is when you get a Challenge from another player to play a game, you have no clue how to accept the game! There is this strange icon on the top of the Challenge…in the end you finally figure out from all the shouting in the text chat window or your headset that you must "push downward" on the right analog stick. Now with all the buttons on the darn Playstation 2 controller, couldn’t they make it SELECT or R1…sheesh!

We had no problems with our test setup using a home router to use NHL 2K6 on our DSL connection, there wasn’t much lag. There was some lag using the analog modem however, so always check the ping of the person in the lobby before accepting a game.

Overall 2K Sports does it again, proving that they have the right formula for hockey. Solid gameplay, indept Franchise mode, amazing new features, good online play and an amazing LOW price of $19.99 U.S. or $29.99 Canadian makes NHL 2K6 the best hockey game of the year.

Buy NHL 2K6 for the PS2 at
Buy it at EB


2K Sports reminds me how hockey games should “feel”, not clunky at all…real smooth.


Still looks good, but needs an update in the engine.


The Canadian commentators do a fair job, but frankly get rid of the script and get some real in game hockey audio. They aren’t actors after all.


Comments are closed.