NHL 2K11 review: iPhone edition

Allow me to preface this review by putting everything in context. NHL 2K11 costs $1.99 for the iPhone, which is less than the typical cup of coffee from Starbucks. Comparatively, many of the EA sports games cost $6.99+. There is also a Lite version of the game, which is free, if you’re hard up for cash. No matter what flaws the game may have, it’s still a bargain.

In the past, we have seen air hockey and bubble hockey games available for the iPhone but 2K11 is the first NHL game released by a major developer. As such, it makes a decent but somewhat unremarkable debut. The play is smooth for the most part but the interface is clunky and the graphics are noticeably pixelated in the cut scenes. In short, this 2K game could not hold a candle to EA’s sports titles.

There is a major bug in the initial release of the game. When play is whistled dead, you are presented with the option to change lines. I found that, sometimes, the current line would come off of the ice for the change but play would start without you. The puck would drop and the opposing team would head on a breakaway while your new line was still slowly shuffling to the now vacant face off circle.

A challenge that faces developers of future hockey games is to find a way to provide more detail of the goalie’s movements while on an offensive attack. Scoring on this game is still quite primitive. I could nitpick and complain about the outdated rosters (which I assume will be corrected in the next update) or wish that EA would jump into the arena but, for the time being, I’m honestly content with the game.

As an older gamer who grew up with Intellivision and Atari, I have never shaken the instinct that pressing harder does equals moving faster. During gameplay, my thumb continually slid up the left side of the screen, blocking my view. This is not a bug with the game so much as a drawback of the medium and I can’t help but wonder if other people have the same problem.

By default, 2K11 is the best NHL game for the iPhone and, despite its flaws, is a fun game to play. At the modest price of $1.99, it is a worthwhile purchase too.