Last week Jake Gaskill and myself had the opportunity to tour through the extremely snazzy NHL 2K11 Hockey RV of Awesomeness, where the air conditioners were working overtime to simulate a deep Canadian winter. Which actually benefitted our preview of the game because we could nearly see our breath.
We got to take a first look through the RV which 2K Sports has outfitted into a hockey lover's dream vehicle, and you can check out a ton of photographs from both inside and outside in our gallery. 2K will be crisscrossing both the United States and Canada in this sucker, bringing good tidings and NHL cheer to everyone up until the launch date on September 7. Check out the full schedule on their site and find out how you can play the game early, compete for prizes, and meet up with some hockey greats.
But you're probably wondering how this game plays, right? Like, is it even worth it to chase down this behemoth truck in order to get your fingers on the game? The short answer is: yes. For the long answer, keep reading.
We took a look at this game at E3, but we didn't get any hands-on game time. Instead we talked to an executive about the game ("It's fun!" he assured us) and looked at hockey jerseys tacked on a booth wall. Not very convincing evidence. But last week we finally got to play the game, and it surpasses the hype. I'll definitely be picking this up in September and initiating my quest to have the Dallas Stars win the Stanley Cup (again).
The game succeeds because of the two things that are staples of any gamers diet: graphics and gameplay. Graphically, the game looks very impressive for the Wii. When the stadium lights go down, the speakers start pumping, and your team logo encircles the ice via spotlights ... it feels like a real match is about to begin. 2K said their main goal with this title was to focus on the gameplay and the graphics, and they really nailed the look.
But what about the gameplay? It's solid as well. With the Wii MotionPlus attached, you can get very accurate stick control. It's not exactly 1:1 (as 2K claims), but it's pretty darn close. Hold the A button to control your stick defensively, and the B button to nail shots. This allows you to poke, deke, slap shot, wrist shot, and even juggle the puck with accuracy. It definitely improves things on the defensive side, and imagine my surprise when I broke a stick across the back of the legs of one of Jake's players. Yes, the game has broken sticks, and mine actually stayed on the ice for awhile. That's the attention to detail we want, 2K!
Jake took the Bruins to the ice while I picked the Stars, naturally, and our game remains unfinished because the RV had to drop us back off at work before either one of us could score a goal. But I consider my broken stick a moral victory, since that had to hurt. We'll spend more time with this game soon, but with sharp graphics, Wii MotionPlus, regular Wiimote, classic sideways controller mode and the Mii "Road to the Cup" minigames, NHL 2K11 is shaping up, FTW.
Now, if only they'd style that RV into a giant Zamboni ...