''Last year, EA changed the face of hockey video games with the release of NHL 08. With its innovative control scheme, gorgeous visuals and incredibly realistic hockey action, it made every other hockey game ever released seem cartoonish and silly by comparison. NHL 09 takes over where the last game left off, utilizing the same control scheme and hockey mechanics, and raising the bar in terms of presentation, and in doing so, easily claims the title as the best hockey game available for any system. It might even be the best sports game ever.
If you played NHL 08, picking up the controls for this year's version shouldn't take more than a minute. Movement is still mapped to the left stick, passing, to the right bumper, and the right stick (or "Skill Stick") acts as your hockey stick, letting you deke, body check, poke check and shoot. The face buttons are still rarely used, but the "A" button now lifts your opponent's stick to prevent one-timers. Basically, the game plays almost exactly the same as it did last year, and that's a good thing. The scheme is so perfectly tuned to the game of hockey that you'll wonder how we got by with face buttons all those years. Other than the new functionality of the "A" button, the only real changes are that the "Y" button now hooks your opponent instead of slashing them (though it still slashes after the whistle, thankfully), and that you now have greater range and control with your poke check. Fighting has been revamped completely, making for a more wide open affair. It's decidedly different than in last year's effort, but to call it better would be a misstatement. It's not better, it's not worse, it's just different. For those who haven't played the series in a few years, and don't want to learn a new control scheme, the face button-based controls from NHL 94 are available as well.''