Whipped into shape, but not stardom
You've heard of pitchers in baseball or linemen in football who show up to training camp too fat - usually they get benched or put on a brutal regimen until their overpaid butts can cut it. That's exactly what went down with the hockey game NHL 2K6. The PS2 and Xbox versions that came out in September suffered from all kinds of problems, but the Xbox 360 version (a launch title) makes a solid return to form and even - get this, EA - adds a dazzling, innovative new feature.
If you played the Xbox or PS2 versions, you'll notice right away that Visual Concepts responded quickly to the feedback. Wraparound goals are no longer money shots, skating has been tightened down, and the AI plays better defense. All of these small tweaks have a huge impact on the ice, restoring the sense of authenticity and realism. A roster of other strong returning features backs that up, including icon passing, useful quick-coaching options, and a sturdy franchise mode.
Even more impressively (especially if you've played a scaled-down EA Sports 360 game), this version of NHL 2K6 adds an innovative and downright fun new feature: playing goalie. In "crease control," you sweep a cone of vision around the ice from a behind-the-goalie view, tracking the puck. When a shot comes in, time slows, and you line up two targets to make the save or flick the stick for a desperation attempt if you're out of position. It's a lot of fun and often a welcome change of pace.