Reviewed by Tinnanski
Oct. 5th 2005

Introduction:Last years hockey games felt a little weird considering NHL hockey was off the tube. Now that the fever is back, NHL 2K6 sweetness is that much sweeter. The game is on and as we take a look at EA Sports main rival 2K.

The Game:ESPN's NHL games have made a good impact in the last few years its been on the market. Last years hockey NHL 2K5 was well rounded great experience and I had little doubt that they couldn't pull it off again. Now under 2K Sports label we have 2K6 which hasn't lost it's stride with the loss of ESPN. For a low budget price they have done it again while keeping the standards running high for the 2K series.

NHL 2K6 was quick to add the new NHL rules that have been implemented for this years hockey season. This means the popular overtime shootout is included along with the removal of the two-line pass. It really shouldn't come as a surprise since 2K6 always leans towards a sim like experience rather then crazy high speed action. If you like your hockey a little more wild you can edit the settings and bump the speed up as high as you wish. I found the game was balanced well except that I had to jump the difficultly up from it's default setting.

NHL 2K6 has a bunch of new features which fit perfectly within the game. One of the best additional features is "Pro Control". Pro Control lets the player make quick passes to any player on the team helping you to keep that puck moving. Think of it as your little helper on those offensive drives and time killing powerplays. They way it works is by simply clicking on the right thumbstick and then picking the corresponding button to pass to, one timers have never been so much fun. The Pro Control feature really makes the game a bit easier for new players which is great considering it's already tailored for the hardcore, but I'm sure everyone will be using it. The second new feature which as important as Pro Control is "On-The-Fly Coaching" where you can easily direct the team by a simple click of the D-Pad. There are both offensive and defensive coaching delegations to each direction on the pad so you can optimize your on ice strategies.

The other new features that have been added include the "Enforcer System", "Maximum Goaltending" and "Team Chemistry" The enforcer system rewards team mates with a physical bonus to intimidate the opposing team. These players are indicated with a giant"E" icon under their feet, it's impossible to miss. If you keep on the team with the enforcer the E icon will start to shrink meaning there is too much attention on the enforcer and his influence is wreaking. All you need to do is back off for a while until the heat lowers. Enforcers have the best hits in the game, so hit them hard when you have the enforcer on the ice. Team Chemistry works in a similar fashion, if your line up has a high chemistry rating this will get a little boost to their overall stats. You can mess around with the team chemistry rating when you develop your lines, or let the game sort them for you. This is an interesting feature although I really couldn't tell how much it actually helped my players. Finally the Maximum Goaltending gives more control with the goalie by using the right analog stick you can help him to make quick saves. This feature is the one that thrilled me least and that's not because it's not an innovative feature, its just because I'm usually in too much of a panic to acutely consternate on the goal tending... forget trying to hit my controller to help him out, he should just save the goals.

The one major negative complaint I have about 2K6 is a long standing problem I have had with the franchise mode. This needs to be overhauled and upgraded with more features. I just gets too boring with not enough rewards for the player to accomplish. Sure they have the unlockable teams, jerseys and other small trinkets but its just not enough. It seems more time has been spent on multiplayer modes which is great, unless you do most of your hockey gaming alone. It's just a little grip I have which seems to be passed off once I get into the action on the ice. Other then that the gameplay is as smooth as silk and it just continues to get better for the 2K series.

Graphics & Sound: The graphics and presentation would have to the weakest aspect of NHL 2K6. The animations and players look slightly better then last game, but over all it's a little weak when you compare it to the flash of EA. The games interface is the biggest downer even though it's about the game and not the menu's look, it could of used a little life. It's hockey, it looks like hockey and this is kind of good enough, but hopefully on the upcoming Xbox 360 version they spice spice it up and improve the presentation and graphics so they have less jaggies on the big screen.

The play by play commentary is from the great Hockey Night In Canada team of Bob Cole and Harry Neale. These two have some nice chemistry and it shows as they call the plays and add little comments about the players and teams. It was surprised that half way through my season I wasn't even sick of these two. I think it's a great addition and it seems that 2K can hold its own even without the ESPN licience. The sound effects otherwise are done good in 2K Sound that was developed with the help of Dolby Digital. You get used to hearing this because it's advertised in every game. The only suggestion I could make is add a little more bass to the hits, besides that it's a winner.

Mojo:I love hockey and I think it loves me back! NHL 2K6 is a great hockey game although not perfect, the mojo still is present. Most of the mojo comes from the solid gameplay and the cool features which keep the series moving forward. I think 2K Sports did a great job but we still need some zing, and maybe some bling? Lets get the revamped 2K6 to play more dirty and line up the 360 for the crosscheck.

Lowdown:NHL 2K6 lives even without ESPN and stands tall becoming another great addition to the 2K6 series. NHL 2K6 isn't totally overhauled which is great. It has been nicely tweaked with a few new features that makes it worthy of a yearly upgrade. Hockey fans pick up 2K6, Who doesn't love a quality game at a low price.

Gameplay: 8.5, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 8. Final: 8/10


  • Pro Control - Play like the pros with our revolutionary icon-based passing system. All-new combo passing and shooting controls let you queue up give-and-go attacks, tic-tac-toe passing, puck cycling, behind the net plays and more!
  • On-The-Fly Coaching - Play your style of hockey at both ends of the ice by calling team strategy during the action. Crash the net, screen the goalie and pinch defensemen on offense. Then, counter the attack by clearing the crease, clearing the zone, or setting up a break out for an offensive rush.
  • Enforcer System - Throw opponents off their game by bringing out your checking line. Now, bigger and more aggressive players weigh into the outcome of a game as much as your leading goal scorers, as physical play will lower opponents' performance ratings.
  • Maximum Goaltending - Take matters into your own hands by swapping into the cage and utilizing your right analog stick to make quick, intuitive saves when it counts the most.
  • PureMotion Animations - Hundreds of new NHL-caliber animations to feast your eyes on including spectacular saves in goal by Marty Turco.
  • Franchise Perfection - An unsurpassed franchise experience hinges a team's success on your ability to schedule workouts, scrimmages and manage team chemistry.
  • Gold Standard Presentation - Immerse yourself in the impeccable presentation system with all-new commentary featuring Bob Cole and Harry Neale, broadcast standard overlays, innovative camera angles, new cut-scenes and more.
  • The Online Experience - 2K Sports continues to lead the online gaming revolution as NHL® 2K6 brings you seamless online play and the most comprehensive online feature set anywhere including completely online stat tracking, buddy lists management, and online leagues.

2K Sports
Visual Concepts
Sep 2005