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2K Sports Xbox 360 Preview

Yesterday I met with 2K Sports and they showed me Amped 3, NBA 2K6, and NHL 2K6.

Amped 3 is a snowboarding lifestyle game. They boast that it is the most realistic snowboarding experience. I'm an avid boarder and I would actually argue that nothing even comes close to a realistic snowboarding experience so who cares. You create and fully customize a character. There are tons of options for body type, jacket, gloves, etc. There are over 400 licensed items in the game. Instead of a menu to choose what to do you can board over to different sections of the mountain and accomplish the objectives there to earn "awesomeness". The soundtrack is fully customizable and includes over 300 songs. The load screens are very creative and will entertain gamers while they wait, at least the first few times. Some of the cut scenes are hysterical. There's a feature called Park Builder that lets you lay down objects and create your own courses.

NHL 2K6 is probably the best looking hockey game I've ever seen (and the only next gen one I've seen). First, 2K Sports assured me that they addressed some of the bugs that have been bothering me in the Xbox version. They say that you can no longer score by shooting the puck through the back of the net. They also say that they've addressed some of the commentary errors, like showing a stat and then discussing the wrong stat (screen says 6 hits and announcers and that's his 3rd hit". But to be realistic there will always be bugs in games. This game has all the features of the current gen version plus Crease Control, a feature added by Marty Turco. Crease Control establishes a cone of vision around the goalie and centered on the puck. This lets you figure out how to block shots. The coolest thing that I saw was the way the ice is textured. Skaters leave trails in the ice and the surface has different properties of reflectivity based on its condition and whether there is something written under it or not. The crowd reacts to big hits along the boards, and the glass reflects so there's an awful lot to look at. Players' clothing is using a cloth physics system that has the clothing bunch, sway, and wrinkle as the players move.

NBK 2K6 is 2K Sports' latest salvo in the battle for console basketball dominance. The player models are extremely detailed down to muscles, veins, facial hair, and tattoos. Their faces are very good. Some players make you think the real player is on screen (like Shaq the cover athlete). The reflections off the wood are almost as cool as the reflections off the ice in NHL 2K6 and again the cloth physics is in full display. Players sweat more and more as the game goes on and they start to get shiny. The neck musculature is so realistic that I started just watching the way a player's head and neck moved. There's this VIP feature, where your profile and the resulting AI can be saved and then your opponents can play against your VIP to practice for playing against you.

If you'd like to view the slideshow click here.

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