You might wonder why I’m talking about a game that’s over 3 years old and that I paid all of 6 bucks for. Well it still annoys me when sports games get stuff wrong. This game just hits a lot of points that will eventually push anyone playing it over the edge. I’ve found I can only play 2-3 games in a sitting due to the frustration. But I must finish things so that Dipietro can win a half dozen awards along with the Stanley Cup, and that Mike Comrie can be in the race for the Hart Trophy.
So what to start with? Expect to almost never score unless there is an awful goalie in net, and most starting goalies are rated too highly. This is another game that almost totally relies on your ability to convert one timers to actually score. The dings of hitting posts in 30+ shot games will start to haunt your dreams. To make matters even worse, when you get higher up on the difficulty, the computer becomes an expert at breaking up any passes in their defensive zone. Oh and it also gets really good at clearing the crease with some questionable interference level hits. So the few times the puck does reach where you are aiming, expect the puck to go through the space that used to contain the player.
To top it off, on higher levels the AI has quite the amazing ability to use three players to pin you in the zone, while your players have an amazing inability to get open. It gets even more fun when the AI breaks out, as the AI will eternally skate right up the middle, outskating your defensemen who are skating backwards. So your defense will proceed to turn around, but have no momentum, giving the AI a breakaway on nearly every turnover. You know how I mentioned that on the higher difficulty the AI is good at intercepting passes and clearing the crease? Expect the opposite from your AI defensemen.
You can also just about throw the ratings out the window. 2K seems to have decided that difficulty should mean a change of speed. As an example, on the Islanders my two fastest players are Milan Hejduk and Miroslav Satan. Yet as soon as I upped the difficulty, it’s impossible for those two to out skate ANYONE. I can pound on the speedburst button and maybe, maybe I’ll beat someone for long enough that they won’t stickpoke the puck away at maximum reach when I run out of steam. Also on offense, to get anything going you have to screw with the AI by stopping, doing a circle and then looking for someone open. Stopping causes the AI’s momentum to carry them forward for another step or two, and since your players are going to be slow, they’ll be open for a split second.
The hitting system is another joke. I can play as Bruno Gervais and destroy people, as long as I’ve got a head of steam going. Sure I’ve seen smaller guys bounce off bigger guys, but usually only when they don’t have a head of steam. There’s almost no reason to stick poke when its far easier to knock someone off the puck. What not to expect is some actual forechecking from your teammates. The second the puck is on the stick of an opposing player, your players will give up the zone without a fight. So if you amazingly manage to intercept the puck or take it back, expect to get beat down in a 4 on 1 situation as your players slowly make their way back to the zone.
I shouldn’t have the game on the second highest difficulty, have injuries to 4 of my top 6 forwards and still be winning 90% of the time. At one point my top line was Hejduk-Park-Hunter. Just to give you an idea of how many injuries that is, Richard Park is my 4th line center, and Petteri Nokelainen (who had 16 points in 60 AHL games in 07 which the ratings are based on) was my 2nd line center and 2nd PP Center with the callup from Bridgeport. If you remember Nokelainen at all, you know he should be nowhere near the NHL. Although he didn’t do it well, he still was good enough to be able to cover Crosby.
I am so sick and tired of sports games cheating in order to increase the difficulty. That’s one of the main reasons I am ranting about a near 3 year old game. I remember playing games of Madden in which I ground and pounded it for 3 quarters, had complete control of the game and a 14-0 lead. Suddenly everything would start going wrong and no matter how many people I threw into coverage, the AI would complete every pass. No matter how many blitzes I threw at the AI it always got the ball away just in time. It’s the same complaint here, difficulty shouldn’t mean having to cheat the system and that’s the biggest sin NHL 2K8 commits.
Also I should mention this is from me playing the PS2 version of the game.