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iPhone  header logo

NHL 2K11

For: iPhone

Firm and frosty

Product: NHL 2K11 | Developer: 2K China | Publisher: 2K Sports | Format: iPhone | Genre: Sports | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0.2
NHL 2K11 iPhone, thumbnail 1
NHL 2K11 is like a big block of ice. It's solid, but spend some time snuggling up to it and it starts melting.

The fundamentals are firm - thanks to years of refinement on consoles - and it possesses a simplicity that makes for easy-going gameplay. Yet, the lack of multiplayer, absence of touch-controlled player switching, and outdated rosters melt away that cool first impression.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck

What makes NHL 2K11 work is the combination of responsive controls and fluid gameplay. You feel the momentum of the players as they skate on the ice and sense the power behind the puck as the goalie stops a shot with a thud.

It feels right, and so picking it up for a quick match is easy. Troubles only appear when you sink more time in the rink.

Season mode tops a shortlist of modes including Free Skate, which allows you to practise skills without the pressure of points and penalties, and a penalty Shootout mode. You can also jump into a Quick Game for immediate action.

The absence of multiplayer is conspicuous and limits the game's long-term prospects. Without even Bluetooth or local wi-fi support, NHL 2K11 fails to check a critical box.

The front office

Fortunately, Season mode is robust enough to satisfy your single-player cravings. 2K Games has generously provided multiple save slots for the playing of several different seasons, something unique among iPhone sports games (other games need to start doing this).

Complementing the action on the ice are front office features including player trades, free agent signing, injuries, and roster management.

The latter is curiously outdated. NHL 2K11 uses rosters from the 2009-10 post-season, rather than the updated 2010-11 pre-season roster. Summer trades and signed free agents aren't reflected in the game.

Of greater concern are omissions in the game mechanics, namely the manner by which you switch players during a game.

Figure skating in a war zone

The controls rely on virtual buttons situated in the lower-right corner opposite a decently responsive analogue stick in the left. Switching players requires tapping a button - you're unable to do so by directly tapping a player. It's an annoyance because you often have to cycle through a couple of players before settling on the desired one.

I also didn't feel as though speed boost, which is triggered via a lightning-icon button, was substantial enough to have much of an impact on play.

Passing could stand to be tightened up, too, as many lateral passes go incomplete because the game always wants you to pass forward. To be fair, the rare exception doesn't eclipse the passing mechanic's general success.

Ultimately, there's more right than wrong with NHL 2K11 and it deserves much credit for nailing the feel of the game. In the end it establishes the benchmark - albeit not a high one - for hockey on iPhone and iPod touch.
NHL 2K11
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 27 August 2010
NHL 2K11 has the fundamentals of a good hockey game without the features and polish of a great one
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