Console hockey on your iPhone

2K Sports NHL 2K11 brings console-like hockey gameplay to your touch screen and manages to pull it off well with only a few minor annoyances.

2K Sports NHL 2K11 brings console-like hockey gameplay to your touch screen and manages to pull it off well, with only a few minor annoyances. If you've played console hockey games, you'll feel right at home; pick from any of the NHL licensed teams (with all your favorite players) and hit the ice for an Exhibition game, play an entire 82 game season, or you can practice in the Free skate and Shootout modes. There is no multiplayer option in NHL 2K11 (Wi-Fi or otherwise), but hopefully that's slated for later versions.

The control system consists of an onscreen joystick on the left and buttons for passing, shooting, checking, and turbo boost on the right. For the most part, it works well for controlling your players, making quick passes, and getting around the ice, but it can feel a bit muddy in fast break situations and shootouts (it's hard to replace a console controller for precision). At the same time, NHL 2K11 for iPhone shares a lot of the depth of console versions, letting you sub in any player, adjust strategy, switch your matchups, trade with other teams, check for available free agents, and much more. You also can browse individual and team stats (including shot charts and penalty summaries) as you progress through an 82 (or 41) game season.

With great gameplay, and tons of extra content, NHL 2K11 is easily the best hockey game for iPhone on many fronts, but it has a couple of annoyances. The graphics are mostly smooth during normal gameplay across several available camera modes, but suffers during replays where the camera is close to the action. Perhaps the trade-off of having all these options and content means the player graphics take a hit, but it seems like it could be better. Also, If you like making manual line changes while playing, the interface is not ideal. After tapping to select your line, there is no confirmation it has been selected. For us, this sometimes caused us to hit a line selection repeatedly, sometimes resulting in switching lines right before the puck dropped to the ice. Problems like these could probably be worked out in later versions, so we hope 2K Sports is on top of some of the less-than-ideal details in the game.

Overall, 2K Sports NHL 2K11 is an excellent way to get your hockey fix on the iPhone, providing fun and challenging gameplay and all the big hits and satisfying slap shots you could want. Though the game has its issues, it's a must-have for any hockey fan.

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