NHL 2K11 First Look

Wii contender or fill-in until NHL 2K12? We get our first look at 2K Sports' Wii-only hockey game.

There was a question as to whether 2K Sports would be bringing out an NHL game in 2010 at all. The long-running NHL 2K series has been struggling from a sales and critical reception standpoint on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and lagging behind its direct competitor at EA. NHL 2K11 isn't dead, however; it's just a Wii exclusive. 2K Sports announced the year-long hiatus of the 360 and PS3 versions of the NHL series earlier this year as it revamped the game, presumably for NHL 2K12. Yesterday, on the show floor of E3, we got a look at the Wii-only NHL 2K11 to see what 2K puck fans will have to tide them over before the series returns to the 360 and PS3.

As with 2K Sports' other big game--NBA 2K11--we didn't get a chance to play NHL 2K11 for ourselves. We did hear about the upgrades to the Wii MotionPlus controls (which producers are dubbing "Wii MotionPlus 2.0") and that it promises more one-to-one motion between player movement and onscreen stick control than ever before. Standard movements will be easy enough to pull off, but 2K is also promising the ability to pull off more advanced moves like poke checks, stick lifts, juggles, and even holding the puck on the end of the stick in midair. We saw the latter in motion during a one-versus-one practice session--it looked cool enough but we doubt there's much room for this kind of flair in a full six-on-six match.

From a presentation standpoint, NHL 2K11 will feature a more vibrant color palette with improved lighting in stadiums, touched-up player models, and improved jerseys and sticks. Speaking of lumber, broken sticks are in NHL 2K11. We didn't see any in our demo, but producers said players will skate to the bench to retrieve a new stick.

Love them or hate them, minigames have been a part of the NHL 2K series for years now. In NHL 2K11, minigames have been organized into a new mode known as Road to the Cup. Built off the superskills events from previous games, Road to the Cup has you traveling through NHL cities, trying to gain fans as you complete in a number of skills minigames. These minigames run from standard "hardest shot" competitions (where you swing the Wii Remote to take the shot, naturally) to more esoteric games, like a skating game where your goal is to avoid yellow barrels that are moving at random all over the ice. Each time your player is hit by a barrel, you lose a life and the last man standing is the winner. Winning a game will earn you fans on your Road to the Cup and the first player to reach 1,000 fans in the mode is declared the overall winner.

2K Sports producers pointed out that this is the third year of development for NHL 2K on the Wii, a point in the annual game cycle where developers typically really find their stride with a series. It remains to be seen whether or not NHL 2K11 will be an improved effort over last year's game or merely a bridge to whatever comes next from 2K Sports on the 360 and PS3, but we'll be keeping an eye on the game up to its release later this year.

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Discussion

17 comments
TrueGamer135
TrueGamer135

This game is going to be amazing because 2k is focused only on the wii for this. The motion plus is gonna be good too with this because youl be able to do the motion of the wrist shots.

DannyTS
DannyTS

I can't wait to punch out Crosby with OVEEEEEE!!!!! GO CAPS!!!!

Tri-Enforcer
Tri-Enforcer

I found 2K10 very difficult to control. Good thing it was only a rental. Also, it didn't help that I'm not much of a hockey fan. However, I really did approach 2K10 with an open and enthusiastic mind (from all the positive praise). The controls were just too difficult for me to get into it.

xshadowzz
xshadowzz

@Pete5506 Because they are like totally good at it?

remixbaby44
remixbaby44

wow...broken sticks. a totally mind blowing addition. all kidding aside, i might finally get a wii hockey game if this gets at least decent reviews.

voldo25
voldo25

same here...ive been playing since 2k2 on dreamcast but i made the switch when nhl 08 came out. EA has been killing them but thats what happenes when you release crap. sorry 2k but your sports games have been pretty bad ever since ea purchased the nfl licence, with the exception of NBA but that game also had many glitches and frame rate problems.

Hank1974
Hank1974

If anyone really believes 2K is going back to next-gen you might be eligible to be the Montreal Canadiens general manager. They're never coming back to next-gen, and if EA kills them with their Wii game, 2K is done making hockey games.

Spartan9797
Spartan9797

my guess is that they are focusing on this wii only version because they are overhauling their xbox/ps versions. starting from ground up or so because they know that EA has had their number in the last few years in the NHL franchise. I used to play only 2k since 2k2, but starting with nhl08, i've been playin the EA games. 2k needs to match the visuals and features of EA. I look forward to 2012 and the battle of hockey sims again

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

pathetic...NHL 11 all the way and even NHL 12 will be better...and the next year, and the next......

jeffv547
jeffv547

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

FlareKnights
FlareKnights

Wow pretty much 2K has thrown in the towel in the hockey area. Maybe they can do something just focusing on the Wii. Still think the best think they did was push EA to do a better job with their hockey games. Hopefully they do come back with some games for the PS3 and 360 at some point since without any competition EA will probably get lazy again.

salsaboy11
salsaboy11

i'm so picking this up over EA's i mean its like ea didn't try hard enough. no online no franchise? i mean come on -.-. i think there game is targeted to young children. and after seeing nhl 2k11 trailer it just made me fall in love. i mean 2k obviously has the more realistic game for wii. EA is just trying to steal there sales while not putting in all the effort

therealDJNEO
therealDJNEO

I hope their comeback with NHL 2K12 4 nextgen will B BIG

Barry_Okanagan
Barry_Okanagan

Nhl 2k series was by far the most fun gameplay hockey games. I'm still playing Nhl 2k8 because the game feel way more realistic than Ea. I mean Ea's got the graphic...But that's all...

Eclipse_ShinRa
Eclipse_ShinRa

2k needs to MLB too EA. I won't diss there NHL because I never played it but I didn't hear good things, lol.

xblane
xblane

It does sound like EA's Slapshot is going to come out and do a better job in the first year

Pete5506
Pete5506

Why is 2k still making hockey games?