NHL 2K Mobile Review

Posted December 12th, 2014 at 11:00 am


by Brendan Wilhide
The NHL season is moving along at full speed now and with the colder weather comes even more desire to play some games. Hockey fans with iOS and Android devices received a new version of NHL 2K this season but, like a preseason darling which has stumbled out of the gates, this year’s game offers little to excite past 2K fans and is even disappointing enough that those who blindly spend $8 on it may be turned off from even considering future releases. 

NHL 2K on mobile includes a number of modes including MyCareer, turn-based multiplayer, and even a “mini rink” 3 vs 3 arcade mode. While 2K offers variety in those modes the gameplay itself is a tremendous let-down. The players in NHL 2K all “feel” the same when you control them. There’s no difference between a hulking power forward like Milan Lucic and a speedster like Steven Stamkos. There’s nothing differentiating players from one another on the ice except for their names and dominant hands.

The gameplay does represent hockey well though in some respects with a fair job done in capturing the frantic pace of the NHL. Despite that you may as well feel you’re not only battling the other team but the controls and in-game physics engine all at the same time. It is possible to play a competitive game of hockey once you learn the ins-and-outs of the control system. In fact the arcade 3 vs 3 mode is probably the most enjoyable part of NHL 2K. There’s some irony present in an arcade mode being perhaps the best part of a supposed hockey sim.

Mobile devices have gained considerable graphical power over the last few years yet NHL 2K’s visuals are completely underwhelming. The player models are blocky which is especially apparent during the limited in-game cut scenes. Why even bother to show players leaving the bench at the end of a period if their sticks just float in the air near their gloves rather than sitting properly gloves? Why go to the trouble of having cut scenes at all if they just highlight the flaws? If a cut scene seems superfluous that’s because it is – the real trouble lies with the gameplay experience simply not being up to par.

The ice surface itself is bland and even outdated as it omits the behind-the-net trapezoids which have been on NHL ice surfaces since 2005. This omission affects gameplay actually since goalies are now free to play the puck behind the net without fear of a delay of game penalty. At the very least an officially licensed NHL game should reflect the NHL rules at the time of its release mobile game or not. Expectations should even be higher than that for a game that charges $8 out of the gate rather than try and entice people to play it through free-to-play. A premium price should only be for a premium game.

Sports game franchises like NBA 2K, FIFA, and Madden have been available on mobile for years now. These big name titles have improved little by little over the years in terms of gameplay, graphics, and their basic value. Hockey fans may buy NHL 2K hoping for something similar but ultimately would be best to save their money for something better.

NHL 2K is available on iOS through iTunes and Android through Google Play for $8. Thanks to Brendan Wilhide for taking the time to review the game.