NHL 2K11 on the iPhone and iPod Touch is a sports game that delivers a high caliber of play on the go, with graphics that don’t disappoint and often an A.I. that will have you cursing and your blood pressure rising. This is great for those who enjoy a challenge, there’s something to be said about an A.I. that can push you to better yourself and it really makes each goal that much sweeter.
Although the game presents a simple couple of game modes; Quick Game, Free Skate, Shootout mode, as well as Season mode, the quality level of the game overall is high. There are decent controls considering the platform the title is on, a standard analog stick found on consoles is replaced by a virtual one responding to touch notions. While it is accurate, it is also not the most accurate thing I’ve ever put my hands on. It handles about as good as any title I’ve experienced on the iOS, though I’m not sure if that’s saying much. The swap player and pass buttons work decently but sometimes will not respond properly either.
If you can get past the controls though the game itself is pretty solid. It’s hockey, and the only thing really missing is the ability to punch people in the face. There is checking, all the rules are intact, especially in season mode, and there is a good amount of challenge to get a puck past the goalie. In season mode the typical amenities we’ve grown used to from the sports genre are there, including the option to simulate matches through the schedule and only play the ones you care about. In shootout mode you will find a great way to test your goal-scoring capabilities. Each team sends one player at the opposite team’s goal and vice versa and all goals are kept track of to determine the winner.
The game’s graphics are good, this is one of its strong points. Fully 3D players and rink will be easy on the eyes even on the small screen of the iPod Touch. You never have to take a guess at what is going on. The passing and shooting work as you’d expect, which is a good thing. Free Skate allows for some practice without the pressure, but you can just as easily jump into a Season and do well. The options given for Game Modes include four skill levels, Amateur, Rookie, Pro, and All-Star. There are 2 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute, or 20 minute periods depending on your preference, and penalties can be turned on and off. Offsides and Icing have a few options as well to tinker with, including the NHL or International rule set as options. The game clock can run accelerated or in real-time and the game speed can be changed in a similar way.
Overall, this title is exactly what you’d expect all around from a NHL title. Nothing more, nothing less. Does it need more innovation? Probably not, it’s a hockey game meant to simulate the sport and it does just that. But there just isn’t very much that stands out and would make the non-sport gamer want to pick this up. If you love NHL games, don’t hesitate, but if you don’t then you might want to wait for something more extensive and less basic.