NHL 2K11 Review

By Dana Vinson - Posted Sep 14, 2010

2K took a big chance this year and put all its hockey eggs in one basket: the Nintendo Wii. Casual hockey fans will find 2K11 an enjoyable experience, while those looking for a more serious hockey sim should probably look elsewhere.

The Pros
  • Good looking Wii graphics
  • Classic Controller schemes work well on the ice
  • Fun collection of casual mini-games on the side
The Cons
  • Motion controls aren't always responsive
  • AI can be slow at times
  • Online play is there, but lackluster

NHL 2K11 Review:

The Wii has a reputation--right or wrong--of being a more casual console, so it's interesting that 2K decided to ditch the 360 and PS3 versions of their popular NHL 2K series and instead, focus solely on the Wii. It was a gutsy move and a smart one, unfortunately, it produced mixed results. While the game looks great (for a non-HD title) and the gameplay feels authentic, the MotionPlus controls don't always deliver.

Let's Take To The Ice

Right off the bat, NHL 2K11 is graphically impressive. For being a game that teeters between trying to be a realistic hockey sim and a light hearted look at the sport of hockey, it tows the line well. Despite the lack of high definition graphics, NHL 2K11 does a good job of rendering player likenesses and arenas. It really helps to give the game an sense of authenticity it might otherwise lack.

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Hat Tricks

That attention to detail is also evident in the control scheme, but it shines more with the Classic Controller than the WiiMote. When you decide to make a sports sim on the Wii, the biggest draw is going to be the motion controls. Unfortunately in NHL 2K11, the motion controls (even with Wii MotionPlus) aren't always as responsive as you'd like them to be.

The controls require a great amount of precision, because there are so many unique moves you can do with your WiiMote; however, the motions are all very similar. Many times, you'll find yourself taking a slapshot when you meant to pass, or your player will mindlessly skate around as you frantically shake the WiiMote trying to remember how to perform a certain move. You'll end up saying, "how did I do that?!" again and again, while attempting to recapture glory that came with an indistinguishable flick of your wrist. The one thing that does work well with the WiiMote is one-to-one dekeing, but shooting is frustrating enough to make you want to put a hole in your TV.

The AI doesn't always help the situation either. The defense is often slow to respond and opposing goalies are like brick walls ... until you figure out that your best chance is making quick circles around the goal until your player decides to shoot.

This frustration disappears, however, when you use a Classic Controller. With three control schemes to choose from, you have the luxury of picking the one that fits your style of play the best. Without having to worry about controlling your spastic motions, you can focus on improving your hockey game and actually trying to win. The game mechanics work very well with the dual-stick Classic and, after playing with the Classic Controller, your WiiMote will probably collect a bit of dust.

The Flying V Made of Miis

NHL 2K11 also comes with a fun assortment of mini-games for those who aren't down for a full scale hockey experience. The most notable is the new Road to the Cup mode, where you face-off against other Miis in random hockey-related challenges. The mode has everything from skill challenges to trivia questions, presented in a fun party game atmosphere. Where the motion controls fail to impress in the regular games, in this more relaxed environment, they are fun and new.

While Road to the Cup mode is enjoyable, the online enabled play is hampered by the infrastructure of the Wii. Even on a great internet connection, the lag is often enough to make you want to turn off your Wi-Fi. It's a shame, but NHL 2K11 is enjoyed the most with other friends if they're all in the same room.


He Shoots...He Scores!

NHL 2K11 is a solid offering on the Wii for both casual hockey fans and devoted enthusiasts. Although it will probably appeal more to younger fans, NHL 2K11 offers a happy medium between something totally cartoonish and the  hardcore hockey sim. If you're looking for hockey on the Wii, NHL 2K11 is a good bet. Everyone can enjoy Road to the Cup mode and with the Classic Controller, the on-ice gameplay is solid; however, if you want the most realistic hockey experience available, you're going to need another option.


Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?