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Because there's nothing to do in August

Being that August is basically the biggest beating of the year for hockey fans, I thought I'd let people know that there's a demo of the other NHL video game NHL 2K9 (I feel bad for the Christmas shopping moms of hockey gamers: could there be two titles that are more similar???).

After playing around with it today, I'm glad that they've developed a rip-off of EA's innovative Skill Stick -- even if it was sort of a white flag. It works somewhat well, although I noticed that a lot of times I tried to shoot it would lock up until I could score a goal. This is good, but it doesn't match that "complete control" feel.

The other factors are big minuses: the graphics are, well, awkward; the speed burst is a stupid holdover that has been left in the dust by EA's absurdly awesome skating mechanics; the faceoff controls are just terrible.

Still, you cannot really mess up hockey and there's some fun to be had. You get to play one period of Pens-Red Wings in Detroit and the only difficulty level is incredibly low. A nice distraction in a month where hockey goes to die.

But I'd be shocked in NHL '09 doesn't absolutely blow it out of the water.