NHL 2K is a series of hockey games by 2K Sports for the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the Wii. Its main competitor is EA Sports' NHL video games. The game is officially licensed from the National Hockey League and NHL Players Association.
The NHL 2K series first appeared on the Dreamcast on February 9, 2000 as part of an exclusive lineup of Sega Sports titles. Its success led to it becoming one of the few Sega All Stars titles. A year later the developers did not release NHL 2K1, and instead took a break, following up with NHL 2K2; the last game ever released for the Dreamcast in North America.
Multi-platform and new license
NHL 2K3 was released on the Xbox, PlayStation2, and Nintendo GameCube. It was the first in the series to feature a franchise mode, and the Xbox version was the first online console hockey game. It had many improvements over its predecessor, although players complained that goalies were too hard to score on. Even so, with this title the NHL 2K series was starting to form its own identity as a more 'simulation-like' style of game, as opposed to EA's more 'arcade-like' style. It addressed some issues like scoring, and presentation, and was acknowledged as an exceptional sports title. Even with the lockout looming, video game fans didn't have to worry about the series being put on hiatus, as ESPN NHL 2K5 was released on August 30, 2004. Because Sega had signed a deal with Take-Two Interactive in which Global Star Software (Take-Two's low-price unit) distributed and co-published all titles in Sega's ESPN franchise, ESPN NHL 2K5 was priced at US$19.99 the day it shipped—versus the typical new-release price of US$49.99. This earned it a wide audience among more casual hockey fans on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. However, EA soon signed an agreement with ESPN to become the sole licensee of ESPN's brand in sports games on all platforms.
NHL 2K6 and beyond
Nevertheless, NHL 2K6 was soon released, again at US$19.99, with a new deeper franchise mode, as well as other new extras (such as Bob Cole and Harry Neale providing commentary). With the Xbox 360 coming out, NHL 2K6 was released as a launch title, with a new 'goalie control' feature. NHL 2K7's new features consist of all new animations, mainly geared towards skating, and 'Cinemotion' which is designed to capture the intensity of hockey through close up angles and orchestral music.
NHL 2K8 was released in September 2007. The game features an all new face-off system which includes tie-ups, warnings, jostling, and penalties. The game also includes a new goaltending engine with improved goalies that react according to the situation. Goalies will challenge the puck carrier when appropriate, perform spectacular butterfly saves, and guard the post. Other mini features include variable attendance, better graphics, a new skating engine, authentic player equipment, and more. Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators was on the cover.
NHL 2K9 was released in September 2008. Columbus Blue Jackets' captain Rick Nash is the cover athlete. NHL 2K9 was released on the Wii console in addition to the PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This makes it the first NHL licensed game on the Wii.
NHL 2K10 was released on September 15, 2009 with Washington Capitals left winger Alexander Ovechkin on the 10th Anniversary cover. It was released to lukewarm reviews on next gen consoles, but very solid scores on the much improved Wii version, which now sported online play, Mii Integration, and Wii Motion Plus.
NHL 2K11 will be released on September 7, 2010. This time, the game will be only available on the Nintendo Wii. On March 3rd, 2010 CEO Ben Feder explained "We have decided to reevaluate our NHL strategy and will only be releasing NHL 2K11 for the Wii in fiscal year 2010. We want to become a stronger competitor in this category and taking a year off on PS3 and Xbox 360, while focusing on making the best possible game for Wii, should allow us to accomplish that goal." On March 8, 2010, it was revealed Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler will be the cover athlete for the upcoming game.
|Title||Release date||Console(s)||Cover Athlete|
|NHL 2K||February 9, 2000||Dreamcast||Brendan Shanahan|
|NHL 2K2||February 14, 2002||Dreamcast||Chris Drury|
|NHL 2K3||November 19, 2002||PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube||Jeremy Roenick|
|ESPN NHL Hockey||September 9, 2003||PlayStation 2, Xbox||Jeremy Roenick|
|ESPN NHL 2K5||August 30, 2004||PlayStation 2, Xbox||Martin St. Louis|
|NHL 2K6||September 6, 2005||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Xbox||USA: Marty Turco, Europe/Canada: Mats Sundin|
|NHL 2K7||September 12, 2006||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation 3||Joe Thornton|
|NHL 2K8||September 11, 2007||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3||Jason Spezza|
|NHL 2K9||September 9, 2008||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii||Rick Nash|
|NHL 2K10||September 15, 2009||Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii||Alexander Ovechkin|
|NHL 2K11||August 24, 2010||Wii||Ryan Kesler|