NHL 2K11

Slipping On The Ice
by Matthew Kato on Aug 26, 2010 at 05:00 AM
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Rating: Everyone 10+
Reviewed on: Wii

There used to be a time when I liked the 2K hockey series over EA’s franchise, and that was because I liked the way the skating felt. It was tight and responsive, even if the games themselves were more arcade-like. How I long for those days after playing NHL 2K11.

Perhaps my biggest gripe with NHL 2K11 is simply in how the skating feels. Too often your players will slide around wildly, pulling themselves out of position and exposing the team to a breakaway. Likewise, I think players pay too big a penalty for failed pokechecks and stick lifts and because of it they get caught in molasses on defense. These sound like small gripes, but they add up to an on-ice experience where I was never really confident in my players’ positioning.

This frustration was further fueled by the inconsistent shots generated by the Wii remote. Although the limited selection of manual dekes was responsive (there are also auto-dekes), too often I would crank back and jam forward on a shot that never came to pass. The result is that I too often had to rely on button-based one-timers, which negates the need for the Wii remote entirely. I also thought the detection between the puck and players’ sticks was inconsistent, as were the penalties called. Sometimes you’d get a ticky-tack penalty, and other times you could bowl someone over with no interference call.

This whole situation is really too bad, because developer Visual Concepts has gone out of its way to make the game a full-fledged release, complete with a franchise mode and the new, more casual Road to the Cup mode, which lets you use your Miis in various minigames. But no matter what the trappings, if you don’t get the core gameplay right, then you’re just living on borrowed time.

Random minigames are the name of the game in Road to the Cup mode

Broken sticks are a cool new element

NHL 2K11

The Wii NHL scene is getting competitive, and this is 2K developer's Visual Concepts second crack at it. How will fare against EA's new NHL Wii product?

Game Informer's Review System
Concept Try to give both casual and hardcore fans a taste of hockey action through different modes
Graphics It doesn’t look awesome, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by a couple of the player faces
Sound The commentary is good, complete with references to whether you’ve already been in the box
Playability I missed too many shots because the controller (with WiiMotion Plus) didn’t read my shot for some reason
Entertainment This game is too inconsistent and generally frustrating to be fun to play – even though it’s got some good ideas
Replay Moderately High