Review: NHL 2K6 - 360

Not much of a facelift to grace the next-gen machine


Good: Gameplay, "Crease Control", online leagues

Bad: Graphics, shallow Skybox mode

Does it feel "next-gen": Not really

NHL2K6 from Visual Concepts, Kush Games, and 2K Sports is somewhat of a quagmire. It has the great gameplay of NHL2K6 from the Xbox and PS2 versions of the game, but it seems like the player models were given a few extra polygons and the ice a new shiny coat, but the rest remains exactly the same.

For people needing to get their next-gen NHL Hockey fix, this is it for now. The player models do look better in close-up cutscenes in-between plays, like before face-offs and during fights and such, but a lot of the players still do not look like their real-life counterparts, or even that much better than their Xbox or PS2 counterparts, either. The only players you'll probably be able to recognize just by looking at them are Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, and Marty Turco, and that's only if he doesn't have his goalie's mask on.


Other than that, everyone doesn't seem to really look that much different from their Xbox or PS2 counterparts. The ice on the rink does look better on the Xbox 360, but it mainly just looks shinier, and you can see banners that are hanging from the rafters in many of the arenas reflecting in the ice, along with the players whenever they are skating around on it and it's relatively smooth.

Aside from the graphics, there really is not much that has changed from the Xbox and PS2 versions of NHL 2K6. All of the game modes found in those versions are in the 360 version, including the Skybox, single season, franchise, and the party games that were a hoot on the other versions. The Skybox, while cool, is pretty much like a watered-down version of The Crib from NBA 2K6.


NHL2K6 for the Xbox 360 does differentiate itself from the earlier versions of the game gameplay-wise with the new Marty Turco-inspired "Crease control" system. Basically, Crease Control lets you control the goalie while the other team has the puck, but you get a view from directly behind the goal. This basically allows you to see everything that the goalie really would, so if there is a player in-between the goalie and the puck, the goalie won't be able to see the puck, and neither will you.

The coolest thing about Crease Control is that whenever the other team shoots the puck at you while in Crease Control, the action goes into a sort of "bullet-time" while the shot comes towards the goal, in an attempt to try to let the player feel what it's like to be a goalie in the NHL, but without the cat-like reflexes. Basically, once the action is slowed down, you'll see a red circle form in the net, which indicates where the shot is going. You then use the right thumbstick to try to move another circle to overlap the red circle. If you successfully do so, then you'll block the shot. If you don't, the other team gets a biscuit in the basket. One of the little things that makes Crease Control even better is if you can't see the shot when it's coming at you, or if you have the goalie looking the wrong way during the shot, it makes it harder to find the red circle, or harder to move your circle, respectively. Crease Control is fun to use, but unfortunately, you'll want to play the entire game with it, which you just can't do, sadly.


One of the other items carried directly over from the earlier versions of NHL 2K6 is the commentary and sound design. Pretty much everything here is the exact same as it was in the PS2 and Xbox versions. The duo from Hockey Night in Canada does a terrific job up in the commentator's box, but they do repeat themselves every now and then, and it can get a bit annoying. The music in the game is also fairly decent, with a mixture of rock and alternative, and of course, you can use your own music instead of the included songs if you so desire. On the ice, hits sound painful, pucks ping off of the nets, and just really does a nice job of capturing the "feel" of attending an NHL hockey game live.

With all of that being said, NHL 2K6 for Xbox 360 just seems to be rushed. It has all of the game modes of the other versions, but it just doesn't really have a next-gen feel to it. Hopefully they'll be able to fix that with next year's version, and refine Crease Control even further. One of my biggest complaints about hockey games, and this has gone on for quite a few years now, is that there aren't any really good camera angles to play a hockey game with. You cannot use a press-view camera because the sides of the rink block your view of the puck and the action when the puck gets into the close corners of the rink, and the overhead view is just way too far away to really see all of the finer details of the sport.

While it's not a bad hockey game by any stretch of the imagination, NHL 2K6 just leaves much to be desired from a hockey fan that wants a true next-gen experience. You're almost better off just getting the Xbox version of NHL 2K6 and waiting for NHL 2K7 on Xbox 360.

Graphics: D

Sound: B-

First Play: B

Last Play: B

Gameplay: A-

Overall: 72% C-


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