Developer: 2K Sports
System: Nintendo Wii
ESRB rating: E 10+ for Everyone (Mild Violence)
The idea of using the Wii to play serious professional sports games should pretty much be out of everyone’s system by now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that the Wii versions of games like Madden aren’t really trying to pull off the same realistic representations that they are on systems like the PS3 and Xbox 360 anymore.
2K Sports has decided to go Wii-only for the console offering of NHL 2K11 this year, and manages to pull off a game that’s both fun and relatively realistic as Wii sports games go. However, in order for the fun to truly present itself, you have to play the game with the Wii Classic Controller.
That’s because the Wii-remote-plus-Nunchuk implementation feels half-baked. I purposely review games without reading the manual first in order to get a feel for how intuitive the controls are, and then go back and read through the directions to see what I’ve missed.
In the case of NHL 2K11, my first scoring opportunity found me making a slap shot motion with the Wii remote, only to watch a whole lot of nothing happen on the screen. The next time around, I thought I’d try a wrist shot motion. Again, nothing. I finally pulled out the manual and read the following:
Slap Shot: Hold B Button + Wii Remote UP
Wrist Shot: Flick Wii Remote UP
If you’re born and raised in Minnesota, as I was, you learn early on in life that a wrist shot is accomplished with a simple flick of the wrist to either the left or the right. A slap shot is a quick, forceful, downward swing. Neither is accomplished with an upward motion.
There are several other odd control combinations: shake the Nunchuk to deke, shake the Wii remote and Nunchuk together to body check, flick the Wii remote to poke check, etc. I played through several games using these newfangled techniques and never got the hang of it. It just felt weird.
At this point, I was discouraged.
However, when connecting the Wii Classic Controller, a whole new world emerged. “Video game hockey is FUN again!” I thought to myself. And so begins the real story of NHL 2K11, a fun hockey game on the Wii as long as you take all the arbitrary “Wii” stuff out of it.