Slippery when frozen.
Zamboni racing! Hurry and smooth that ice! We got a couple teams trying to play hockey and that rink better shine. 60 seconds… GO! Yes, a zamboni challenge. One example of many time-killing mini-games that are brought to you on behalf of NHL 2K11.
[image1]A Wii exclusive this year, the latest hockey title from 2K Sports will have you swinging your Wii-mote through a variety of exercises that test your skating, shooting, and overall ice-related skills. In fact, the mini-games can be fun, like the short rink; here, two forwards and a goalie face off against two forwards and a goalie in a tiny rink. This creates an air hockey effect with the puck snapping off the walls at a breakneck pace and immediate goal opportunities for high scoring games.
Also available is zamboni racing, but the main event is Road to the Cup, where you take your Mii through a series of hockey-related challenges. All of these mini-games can be a lot of fun when played with another person and you do not feel like spending a lot of time on a video game.
Oh, yeah… you can play NHL hockey, too. All the teams and players are there, and you can play solo or join an online league to show the world your dominance. The gameplay, however, can be frustrating. I all too often relied on button shooting to make an accurate shot, which is disappointing considering the draw of the motion based Wii-mote. Sure, the skating and movement of the player models are smooth and the interaction of the players seem natural, but the shooting and passing are clunky and inconsistent. The frustration that mounted took the fun out of trying to play realistic, hardcore hockey with my favorite teams and players.
[image2]These same setbacks do not kill the joy of the mini-games, as they seem to be geared for instant fun, and are thus the saving grace of NHL 2K11. Everyone can get together for a little Short Rink or a Zamboni race, and you do not have to know who Sid Crosby is to enjoy it. On the flip side, hockey fiends who crave pro simulation and only the most accurate agility rankings for their fourth-line defensemen will be disappointed and frustrated.
The menu can be irritating as well. There is no clear method of navigation and more than once I exited a game when I meant to look at the settings. Oops. Fairly minor, but you would think a menu would be fairly easy to organize at this point of video game development.
Commendable try from Visual Concepts, but NHL 2K11 falls short of their other quality titles. Maybe a good zamboni race can be fun while waiting for a real hockey game on TV to start, but NHL 2K11 will not be my end-all, be-all hockey title this year.