ESPN NHL Hockey is the latest addition in Sega’s NHL 2K series of games that just happens to add an ESPN license to the graphics and title.
As in the previous version (NHL 2K3), you can once again perform checks into the benches, pin opponents on the boards, and design penalty killing and power-play strategies.
ESPN NHL Hockey adds a revamped franchise mode. This year’s franchise mode includes an e-mail system that sends you notices about team injuries, current playoff statuses, and trade deadlines. Even simple words of encouragement are emailed from the team owner.
The skybox mode acts as a hub for the game’s unlockables, stat tracking, and other random features. There are two new gameplay modes in this year’s game: skills and mini-games. Skills mode is a re-creation of the exhibition competitions held during the NHL All-Star weekend. You find a number of different competitions, including the hardest-shot competition, a shoot-out relay, a puck-control challenge, a fastest-skater competition, and a shooting-accuracy challenge. The roster of mini-games include pond hockey, mini-rink, shootout, and super-speed hockey.
ESPN NHL Hockey has plenty of unlockables, including classic jerseys, teams, and goalie masks. There are even a couple of unlockable mini-games.