2K Sports' E3 presentation debuting NHL 2K9 began with a strange message: "We want to bring the fun back to hockey games." That seems strange, considering that last year's IGN Sports Game of the Year was, in fact, a fun hockey game -- NHL 09. Despite getting an 8.5 on 360 and an 8.0 on PS3 last year from IGN, NHL 2K8 was perceived to be a failure by 2K Sports, who virtually said as such in their presentation.
The result is a game that's been brought back in-house and built from the ground up. The question of whether "hockey video games needed to change gears" is up for debate, as is the issue of whether NHL 2K9 delivers on that promise.