NHL 2K Preview

Hand hockey.

NHL 2K is back, on mobile, reviving the franchise after a lengthy hiatus from 2K Games. As a breezy downloadable mobile game it optimizes the gameplay for simple touch controls or a virtual controller with fake touch-thumbsticks and buttons. I found both of these control schemes to be simple and intuitive, though an off-touch of the screen might send the puck flying forward without a team member to pass it to. 

I should relate, as I previewed this game, that I told the people from 2K that I knew nothing about hockey (or sports at all, really). So to me, when they told me the game would have weekly roster updates and stats for the teams, it was a bit like hearing someone make an important argumentative distinction in Japanese, of which my grasp is relegated to asking where the toilets are.

In any case, I found the game to be surprisingly fun. I learned that off-sides is pretty much the same as it is in soccer, and hockey is one of the few sports where you can actually move around behind the goal. For a mobile game, NHL 2K has a visually solid look, with a isometric top-down approach to the game that works great for vertical devices like phones and tablets.

While the controls were simple, that didn't mean that the game lacked in skill or precision. It was extremely satisfying to check an opponent, or steal the puck and dash back up the rink for a quick shot on goal. 

In addition to the My Career mode—newly added to the game—it also features the 3-on-3 mini-rink game, and other modes like NHL Winter Classic, Shootout, and Free Skate. It's MFi-controller compliant if you want to push some actual buttons and thumbsticks, and you can use iCloud (on iOS devices) to transfer save states from one Apple device to another (and the game purchase is tied to the account, not the device). 

NHL 2K retails for $7.99 on iOS and Android devices. The controls are intuitive, it has updating rosters to keep it current with the sport as the season progresses, and career and casual pick-up modes, giving it a lot of content for the price.