Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 6 Plus
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
It's time to drop the puck on a new season of NHL hockey, and 2K Games looks eager to get in on the action. After a three year absence from the App Store, the newly renamed NHL 2K not only looks to shed the yearly postfix from its title, but also to redefine hockey simulation on the platform. Can it live up to the expectations of fans or has the time off proven to be fruitless?
Sometimes it's reassuring when, after a long time away, a franchise returns in virtually the same form that it last left. Such is the case with NHL 2K. The game has been given a new coat of paint and a framerate boost, but at its core the main on-ice mechanics are relatively unchanged from three years ago. Unfortunately that leaves the game with just as many pros as it does cons.
The classic control scheme has been in need of a revamp for quite some time, but it is virtually identical to previous iterations. Simple concepts like the face-off action button being mapped to the same space as the slap shot button will lead to constant errant shots, post face-off victory. Fortunately the newer touch-based control scheme helps to make the process of controlling players on the ice far more streamlined, but it still lacks the precision of controlling an individual player that most would prefer.
One fantastic new addition to NHL 2K is the “My Career” mode. In this mode the player gets to create their own unpolished avatar and help shape them into the league’s star of the future. Each game plays out from the perspective of just that single player. As the player’s line gets more shifts on the ice, the opportunity to contribute to the success of the team increases. Through positive in-game events progression points are earned, which can be used to improve the stats of the digital doppelganger.
Far and away, this is the most gratifying feature that the entire game has to offer. Plus, the relative small time commitment necessary to quickly burn through a game or two also has its perks. It is easy to lose track of time while trying to create a phenom, the likes of which the NHL has never seen. Hopefully other franchises are taking notes, because 2K Sports has created the template for what a career mode should be on mobile.
Aside from the aforementioned standout, NHL 2K is still a relative retread of previous outings in the series. However, given the limited competition in the genre and the title’s overall competence in most areas, this is a fairly straightforward recommendation. That said, it's still far from the level of advancement that would be expected from a series that's been on hiatus since the iPhone 4 was groundbreaking technology. Hopefully next season will do more to justify the game’s premium price tag.