By Joseph Phung
Score: 6.5 out of 10
Reviewed on: Nintendo Wii
Although 2K Sports announced they would not be making a hockey game this year for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, they did release NHL 2K11 on the Nintendo Wii. After playing through it, 2K Sports should have shelved the game completely this year as it’s not that much different from the previous game.
Score with ease
NHL 2K11 definitely caters to those who like arcade-style hockey where you can skate up and down the rink at quick speeds, perform highlight-worthy dekes and score plenty of goals. While it may not be a simulation experience, the game can be fun and frustrating at the same time especially with its motion controls.
Executing a one-on-one deke is satisfying and can be accomplished by pressing down on the d-pad and making a left-to-right motion with the controller. To shoot the puck, you simply make an upward motion, but sometimes the motion doesn’t register, which can be annoying especially when you have a golden opportunity to put one in the net.
Adding to the arcade-style experience is how players have the ability to lift the puck on their stick and carry it in the air. Players can take it one step further and juggle the puck up and down to create some shots out of it. While this advance move does look cool when executed, it feels kind of silly to have in the game.
Sticks can now break when taking a shot or if you get slashed. Having broken sticks is more of a visual effect than anything else as teammates won’t pass their stick to you whenever this happens.
Scott Niedermayer didn’t retire after all
There are quite a few game modes available to play in NHL 2K11, but most gamers will spend their time in the game’s Franchise Mode, which puts you in control of your favorite team to try and win as many Stanley Cups as possible. All the great options from last year are here like being able to replace any current team with your own custom team and having the ability to change who plays in what division.
The problem with this mode is that it’s exactly the same as last year’s game. Even the schedules haven’t changed as every team follows the 2009-10 schedule. Adding to the frustration are the default rosters, which are outdated as they’re only current to the end of last season. So, you’ll see retired players like Scott Niedermayer remain on the Ducks and traded players like Kris Versteeg still on the Blackhawks roster. It’s stuff like this that makes you believe the team at 2K Sports didn’t put much effort into the game.
Play it with others
A new mode added into NHL 2K11 is the Road To The Cup, which has you play through various mini-games across the country in order to gain as many fans as possible. There are quite a few mini-games available, but only a handful of them are fun like the trivia game where players answer various hockey-related questions and the one-on-one shootout game, in which you attempt to score against the goalie. Up to four players can participate in the Road To The Cup and it’s much better to play the mode this way as doing so alone can be boring.
Competing in online ranked matches and leagues is still available in this year’s game. However, the lag will make it so unbearable that you’ll just want to quit any online match you’re playing. 2K Sports shouldn’t be blamed for this, though, as the online infrastructure for the Wii just isn’t good.
A Step Backwards
Overall, NHL 2K11 isn’t that much different from last year’s game. It still offers plenty of modes to play through despite the fact the game play leaves a lot to be desired. If more time was spent polishing the game, NHL 2K11 had the potential to be a good hockey game for the Wii, but unfortunately it ended up being a disappointment.
Joseph Phung is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He’s also the founder of Canadiangamingdeals.com