Icebreaker Hockey (99 cents) hit the iTunes App Store recently, adding another sport to the challenging 3D tilt-to-control sports arcade franchise from developer NaturalMotion. Now you'll be able to take to the ice and work your way around defenders until it's your turn to take a shot on the goal.
Many iOS gamers will remember Backbreaker Football, one of the early great iPhone games at the iTunes App Store. Taking advantage of the iPhone's accelerometer, Backbreaker Football let you tilt and touch buttons to maneuver a football player downfield to score a touchdown. Later, Backbreaker Football 2: Vengeance expanded on the original, adding obstacles to jump over and a new game mode that let you play as a defender. The genre was such a hit that there have even been copycat games from other developers, like Bonecruncher Soccer, which uses many of the same concepts, but lets you dribble a soccer ball downfield to try to take a shot on the goal.
Icebreaker Hockey, from NaturalMotion, now lets you tilt to control a hockey player as you guide a puck down the ice past defenders. This game shares many of the same concepts as the earlier versions, but offers enough variation to keep it exciting--especially for hockey fans. As in the earlier games, you start by picking from unlicensed teams that have remarkably similar colors to NHL teams. You also can put your name on the jersey and choose a number.
Immediately upon starting the game, we were extremely impressed with the opening visuals on the iPhone 4 Retina Display as the camera panned around the arena showing a laser light show and almost true-to-life reflections on the ice. The control scheme is much like the Backbreaker games: you tilt to turn your skater, and each side of the screen there are buttons for spin and juke dodges. You also get a button for turbo boost and, if you simply touch the screen, it makes your skater come to a hard stop--great for making a defender miss when he tries to hit you from the side. Once you get close to the goal, your player will wind up to shoot a slap shot into the goal.
As in the other games in this genre, scoring a point is not really the goal of the game; Icebreaker Hockey is about the route and moves it takes to get to the goal. Along with trying to stay out of the way of multiple defenders, you'll want to skate over bonus areas to add to your overall score. We found that mapping out a route as the game gives you a preview of the round was the best method for scoring the most points.
Icebreaker Hockey comes with tons of gameplay across two modes. In Challenge mode you'll face 50 waves of action across 10 progressively more difficult challenges. Endurance mode takes it one step further, letting you face increasingly challenging waves to see just how far you can go.
Overall, Icebreaker Hockey is definitely a worthy addition to the franchise, offering plenty of fun and variation to keep you coming back for more. Online leader boards and in-game achievements only add to the fun.