NHL 2K11 Review
NHL 2K11 box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Visual Concepts 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: 2K Sports 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug. 24, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

There’s also a new game mode called Road to the Cup. Fittingly for the Wii, this mode comprises a variety of minigames you can play when your casual-gamer friends visit. Using your Miis, you do things like answer trivia questions, play shootouts, and navigate mazes on the ice. It’s not the most compelling gaming experience you’ll ever have, and it’s quite boring when played single-player, but a group of kids, or a group of adults at a party, could find it amusing in short bursts.

NHL 2K11 screenshot

Also, we were impressed with the game’s online multiplayer. There’s much more lag than we’d like, and the quick matches can take a few minutes to set up, but when so many Wii games lack online functionality entirely, it’s nice to be able to battle friends and random people long-distance. The game supports Wii Speak, and with the Team Up feature, you can even play games entirely without AI players.

Aside from all that, the game isn’t much of a departure from previous entries in the series, but it’s worth noting just how much content there is. You can play seasons and playoffs, build franchises, fight through the Winter Classic (Bruins vs. Flyers), and play in online leagues. For beginners, in addition to the tutorial, there are several preset difficulty levels, as well as the ability to tweak various facets of the difficulty (such as skating speed) manually. There’s even pond and mini-rink hockey. Sure, these features are basically just a roster update away from NHL 2K10, but those who haven’t played the series in a while will appreciate the wide range of options.

Obviously, in making NHL 2K11 a Wii exclusive, the developers sacrificed a bit in the graphics department. The visuals make good use of what the Wii has to offer, with top-notch animations and some great character models, but there won’t be any of the near-photorealistic imagery you might have seen on Xbox 360 or PS3. We hope that next year, with Kinect and Move on the market, the developers can combine this game’s motion controls with more believable visuals.

The sound, meanwhile, is quite good, with announcers who sound completely natural and some modern rock tracks from groups including Three Doors Down, Alice in Chains, and Wolfmother (run through an effect to make them sound like they’re being played in a stadium, of course).


Though they did include some minigames, the developers obviously intended NHL 2K11 to be that rarest of creatures: a third-party Wii game for dedicated players. With a few reservations, we have to say they pretty much hit the mark. Those who buy NHL 2K11 should be under no illusion that the new controls are easy to learn, but by adding MotionPlus to an already solid franchise, 2K created a video game unlike any other.

Does it beat the competition? Once again, hockey fans who own a Wii console and no others don’t have much of a choice; EA’s NHL 11 isn’t slated to appear on Nintendo’s machine. Multiplatform gamers, however, must make a hard decision: would they rather stick to the familiar interface and high-quality graphics of NHL 11, or give a challenging, but ultimately rewarding, new setup a chance?

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

They’re good for the Wii, but one can’t help but think about what gamers are missing out on by this being a Wii exclusive.
Unfortunately, the improved MotionPlus controls don’t make the game more accessible, but they do give it a sense of realism.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
NHL 2K11 has realistic-sounding announcers and good modern rock tracks.

Play Value
Once you get a hang of the new controls, there’s a ton of content here, though most of it is taken directly from the franchise’s previous installments.

Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Increased control on Wii MotionPlus: Maximize your skills with the Wii Console’s trademark motion controls. Have more control of your stick with real-time puck handling, dekes, poke checks, and even juggling moves.
  • Authentic gameplay: New broken sticks, more responsive skating, improved A.I., and more add to the most authentic hockey experience on Wii.
  • Road to the Cup: This interactive multiplayer mode pits Mii characters head to head in mini-games, trivia challenges, and skills competitions. Does your Mii have what it takes to hoist the Stanley Cup?
  • Soundtrack: Rock the rink with Alice in Chains, Wolfmother, The Bravery, Rise Against, 3 Doors Down, New Found Glory, OneRepublic, and more.
  • Enhanced graphics: Improved player models, freshly lit and redesigned arenas, and highly detailed jerseys and equipment bring to life the best looking Wii hockey game to date.

  • Screenshots / Images
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