Hockey Nations 2010 Review

The iPhone’s been out for awhile and there has been hockey games on the system, however none have been a full 6 on 6 game like this one. Developed by Distinctive Games this is their shot at the first full game of hockey on the app store, does it succeed as a great game? Not exactly, while the foundation of hockey is here, it lacks that special something while also suffering from problems.

The graphics are the best part of the game, when you get up close to the players, they don’t look great, but when the game is moving and you’re playing, it does the job fantastically. There’s only 1 arena, it doesn’t look great but it does the job, my only real problem with it is there’s no animation in the crowd. Menus look good, excellent in-game presentation with replays and text overlays for penalties and offsides and the such.

The sound is where it starts to fall apart. It’s not bad, it’s just pretty much non-existent. The menu music is generic guitar rock, the crowd murmurs through-out the game, only cheering for goals, nothing else. There’s no skate noises sadly, no hit noises and the only stick noise is on shots. You do hear the post when you hit it as well, but it doesn’t seem like anyone notices in the crowd.

The gameplay is a great first step. What’s there for $4 will entertain you for a good long time. I like scoring goals, playing is fun however there’s plenty of problems with it. Take that picture for example, if you ever see a goalie in this position, it’s going in the net, nothing’s going stop it. The goaltenders are bad, and I mean bad. They might as well be a brick barricade, those are as smart.

There’s 2 main modes, exhibition and tournament. Exhibition has play now, practice and shootout, while tourney has go for gold in which you have to seed a position before going into the brackets, or you can choose to skip the round robin seeding games. The faceoff is the first thing you’ll do either way, it’s a simple mini-game that a puck appears and you must touch it quickly. It does the job, nothing too fancy here, but faceoffs have never been a focus of hockey video games. The shootouts also has a similar mini-game for the goalie side of things, but either way that mode isn’t great, like I said the goalies are bad and it’s pretty much impossible to not stop the puck.

The controls are simple, you have an on-screen movement stick and 3 buttons. One will always be boost which you have a stamina meter for, and the other 2 will depend on the situation. On offense you have shoot and pass, both of which you can hold to perform stronger and on defense you have poke-check and body-check. You have very little control over the shots though, sometimes you’re left with a wide open net only to shoot it right on the goalie.

The first time you’ll play this, you might think the AI overall is cheap and does stuff you cannot. For example it catches up to you very quickly and takes the puck away fast as well. Their passes also seem awfully accurate when compared to yours. But as you play you’ll noticed you have similar skills. The hitting pretty much floats you to your closest opponent without wasting any stamina and then once you’re there, you can poke-check the puck away quite easily.

The rules are also another place this title needs work. The offsides work when you pass the puck, however if you skate it into the zone with a delayed offside, nothing happens. The icings are also wrong, they only call them when the team that dumps the puck in, touches it up. Another thing when I had a delayed penalty, I was able to touch the puck and and roam around, which shouldn’t happen. Also the opposing team scored while I had a delayed penalty, which would normally cancel out the infraction, but that didn’t happen.

Anyways it’s a great game when you consider that it’s on your phone. Comparing it to a console game brings nothing and it’s about time we get this! It can only get better from here, not only am I looking forward for 2011’s version, but Distinctive have already announced plans to update this year’s title with improvements and additions. I would easily suggest this to anyone looking for a hockey game for their phone. You can get it on the app store page.