|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|
Theres 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. Its not the most compelling gaming experience youll ever have, and its 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.
Also, we were impressed with the games online multiplayer. Theres much more lag than wed like, and the quick matches can take a few minutes to set up, but when so many Wii games lack online functionality entirely, its 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 isnt much of a departure from previous entries in the series, but its 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. Theres even pond and mini-rink hockey. Sure, these features are basically just a roster update away from NHL 2K10, but those who havent 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 wont 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 games 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 theyre 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 dont have much of a choice; EAs NHL 11 isnt slated to appear on Nintendos 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?
CCC Freelance Writer